Every project hits a few (or many) bumps along the way, but they are opportunities to learn and improve the next go around. Many teams use a “lessons learned” template.
This article spells out the benefits of using a lessons learned template, provides some example templates to get started, and shares monday.com’s interactive lessons learned template built for all kinds of professionals.
What is a lessons learned template?
During post-project review meetings, teams usually discuss the various lessons they learned throughout the project. A lessons learned document or template is often the document that captures all of this feedback.
A lessons learned template is a document or presentation that helps team members review positive and negative experiences of a completed project and identify any key learnings.
This opens up opportunities for improvement on future projects. The high-level buckets include:
This type of organization means a comprehensive summary of how people worked together, reacted to setbacks, and executed tasks.
When should you use a lessons learned template?
Naturally, use of a lessons learned template is during the fourth stage of the project life cycle, project closeout. Project closeout is the time period in which the team reviews the deliverables, as well as compares and tests their quality to the intended project outcome.
They also deliver the project and documents to the client or stakeholder. At this point you have both the time and data needed to be able to reflect and parse out important reflections and learnings.
To learn more about this phase of the project life cycle, read our blog on project closure.
3 reasons to use a lessons learned template
While we could probably list 100+ reasons, the top 3 are:
1. Avoid repeating mistakes
There’s nothing more frustrating than making the same mistakes over and over again. Unless a project manager makes a conscious effort, your team may lose out on valuable insight by not learning from their experiences.Insights gleaned from a reflective exercise are only useful if you can document and retrieve them for future projects.
A lessons learned template is an excellent tool to get the knowledge gained down on paper (virtual paper works too). Make good use of what you’ve learned and avoid the same mistakes. It also encourages knowledge sharing within your team so everyone can learn from each other.
2. Identify strengths and weaknesses
If there are aspects of your projects that always seem to take more effort than others, a lessons learned template can help. These templates often contain a section for challenges the project team experienced during the project.
It’s hard to to address a problem if you are not aware of what the challenge is! Collecting feedback from the team makes it easier to dentify common threads and pinpoint … which links in the chain are causing the setbacks.
Similarly, if there are team members or departments that always do a stellar job or get things done ahead of schedule, learn why.
A lessons learned template can identify what they are doing that the rest of the team is not. It then becomes easier to spread productive habits around the entire team.
3. Make team members feel heard
74% of employees report that they’re more effective at their job when they feel heard.
Collaborating on a lessons learned document is an excellent opportunity for your team to vocalize what they struggle with and what makes life easier. Giving your team the space to voice their opinions will make them feel heard and appreciated. This kind of company culture is more likely to boost employee morale and productivity.
What’s an example of how to use a lessons learned template?
Here is a real-life, practical example of when you could use a project lessons learned template.
You are supplying a large corporation with office furniture, including installation. You’ve planned out every detail, including stock, logistics, labor, timelines, etc.
During installation, some things go poorly — the office chairs you ordered from the supplier came in the wrong size, a delay. Once installation begins, your team works at a slower pace than anticipated.
Everything else goes according to plan, and despite the hiccups, you complete the installation a couple of weeks behind schedule. So, how do you put a lessons learned template help into action? Let’s break it down into four steps.
Step 1. Share it with the right people
First, assemble representatives from all involved parties — the labor team, management team, and stakeholders. Then, provide a copy of the following lessons learned template and ask them to fill it in honestly.
Step 2. Solicit feedback
From the labor team: You glean nobody was there to inspect the delivery of office chairs when they arrived. There was only a security guard on duty who signed off. You also learned the onsite manager arrived at least half an hour late daily.
From the drivers: You learn the vehicles were in good shape and had plenty of space to transport your goods and equipment.
From the managers: You learned the communication chain between your headquarters and the installation site was flawed.
This feedback gives you several key insights.
Step 3. Turn feedback into insights
First, your onsite manager was negligent in their time management and communication. Second, there is no qualified staff to oversee and inspect deliveries.
Third, the logistics company provides good quality vehicles (you can trust them for future projects).
monday.com makes it easy to request, record, and analyze feedback and turn this feedback into actionable improvements for future projects. So next time you’re faced with a similar project, you can access this feedback from anywhere and use it to guide your actions.
Step 4: Analyzing the lessons
Going back to the example: when considering how to do things better the next time, it’s essential to check in with the onsite manager to ensure they arrive on schedule and relay communications accurately.
So you appoint a staff member to oversee deliveries and keep the details of the logistics company for future use. You have eliminated weak links and fortified strong ones by analyzing the lessons learned.
monday.com’s lessons learned template
monday.com Work OS is a no-code/low-code platform that allows businesses of all sizes to work without limits using a variety of pre-built templates, automations, real-time insights, and other features.
We’ve created a comprehensive, highly-customizable, and interactive lessons learned template to make managing the lessons learned process quick and intuitive.
Some of the critical ways monday.com can help:
Accessible from anywhere
When asking yourself, “What could have been done better?” simply access your monday.com project lessons learned template from anywhere. Then, watch in real-time as all insights are consolidated and available for analysis and presentation.
Our template provides space for reflection, documentation, consolidation, and storage of ideas that you can retrieve later. With the wisdom of past projects readily accessible, your business is in a better position to learn and grow.
Easily collect feedback with forms
With monday.com, we don’t just give you a template (though we have many of those available). Using our Work OS, you can create a custom-made, shareable form to quickly solicit feedback from your team. Simply send the link to your form, and voila! Each response will populate directly onto the respective board for you to analyze.
Harness the power of automation
monday.com’s lessons learned template saves time and resources by automating processes that used to waste valuable hours — no more sifting through endless stacks of forms and trying to piece them together yourself.
You can sit back and watch as it categorizes, assigns, or organizes information in a presentable format from the word go. Beyond those we’ve already mentioned, there are many (many) templates to help manage workflow and complete successful projects.
Related monday.com templates
Project schedule template
The Project Schedule Template maps out the project timeline by phase. It has space to include all the necessary details like schedule, budget, resources, risks, and task status.
Action plan template
The Action Plan Template breaks down a project into actions and their subsequent details. For each step, you can assign a person responsible, a priority level, a start and end date, and any other relevant notes.
Employee review template
The Employee Review Template makes it easy when you need a standardized way to assess employee performance. It includes sections for characteristics such as initiative, group work, client relations, technical skills, attendance, and consistency.
Similar to the employee review template, the Self-Assessment Template asks employees to indicate how they view their performance. Based on this reflection, they can identify areas to improve.
Frequently asked questions
How do you create a lessons learned document?
To create a thorough lessons learned document, you need a lessons learned template. monday.com draws on years of collective workplace solutions experience to create a powerful lessons learned template. We make it simple to assess task success by guiding you through the pros, cons, and suggestions for every aspect of a completed project.
What do you write in lessons learned?
All lessons learned documents should cover the following:
- What went wrong during the project?
- What went well?
- What could have been done better?
- What valuable lessons can be taken away?
How do you introduce lessons learned?
Any insight gleaned from a lessons learned template should be documented and stored. We recommend appointing a project manager to present the lessons learned during the planning phase of your next project.
How do you share lessons learned?
Any lessons learned should be communicated with the whole company in a respectful and team-oriented way. Remember, our lessons learned template is designed to advance the interests of everyone in the business, from admin staff and technicians to senior management. Plus, it’s easy to grant and control access so you can view the lessons learned and add commentary in real-time.