6th Edition PMBOK® Guide–Process 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge: Outputs


Today I am concluding my series of posts are this process by talking about the outputs of the process.    When looking at the outputs, don’t just look at what the output is, but look at where it is going–outputs of one process become the inputs to another process, and it is helpful to know what process that output is going to feed into.

4.4.3  Manage Project Knowledge:  Outputs

4.4.3.1 Lessons Learned Register

Well, this is the whole focal point of the process, to create this project document.   In the past (i.e., in the 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide, this document was created at the end of a project, and the insights gained were meant to help project managers who are in charge of similar projects in the future.   But in agile project management methodologies such as Scrum, the discussion of lessons learned is not done at the end of the project, but at the end of each sprint or iteration (it is part of what is called a Sprint Retrospective).   The benefits of this lessons learned discussion now benefited not just some future project, but the current project itself.    PMI thought that this benefit should be realized in the more traditional or waterfall project management methodologies as well, so the process 4.4 Manage Project Knowledge was added in the 6th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide.

Okay, what kind of things are in a lessons learned register?

  • Challenges or problems faced by the project team
  • Realized risks and opportunities, that is, risks that actually occurred and became issues, and what the risk response was that dealt with them

Who creates the lessons learned register?   The members of the project team, because it is their experience on the project that creates the raw material for the lessons learned.

This document is created early in the project and is updated periodically.   The lessons can be captured in the written document called the lessons learned register, but there are additional ways of capturing knowledge gained, such as audios (podcasts), videos (e.g. YouTube), etc.

At the end of the project, the lessons learned on a project are transferred to the organizational process asset called the lessons learned register (see paragraph 4.4.3.3 below)

4.4.3.2  Project Management Plan Updates

The lessons learned on a project usually have to do not with the product of the project, but the process of doing the project.   However, one of the lessons that can be learned on a project is that the original project management plan is unrealistic given new information or new conditions that occur on a project.   In that case, one of the project management plan components may need to be updated (after the change request is approved through the process 4.6 Perform Integrated Change Request).

4.4.3.3 Organizational Process Assets Updates

The new knowledge created on a project and codified in the lessons learned register can be transferred to the organization as a whole through the organizational process asset known as the lessons learned repository.    It is possible that an idea for a new procedure is created as a result of one of these lessons learned, and the project then serve as a “pilot” for that procedure.

This is important, because it is important to have projects serve as incubators for change within the organization.  At the discussion had at the Project Management Institute’s Executive Council, where I was the director in 2016-2017, centered around this theme, and one of the members of the council said that sometimes there would be a great breakthrough created on a project due to the creative collaboration that existed on the project team.   The members of the team would leave the project in an evangelical mood trying to convince others to use this breakthrough on their project.   However, if the organization at large did not have a way to incubate these new ideas, then as he put it “the corporate antibodies” would attack the new idea and make sure it never got implemented outside of that project.    The antibodies he referred to were people who liked the status quo and who were therefore resistant to change.   But if management can create an atmosphere conducive to change, and create structures in place to encourage change (such as the creation of a lessons learned repository), then the organization will permanently benefit by the results created on temporary projects.

Now, the next process takes us from the Executing process group to the Monitoring and Controlling process group with the process 4.5 Monitor and Control Project Work.

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