Lessons Learned Template for Software Development Projects

Ever notice that you keep making the same mistakes in your Software Development projects? One way to improve the development process is to created a Lessons Learned Template, preferably in Microsoft Word, and use this to share the lessons you learned during the Software Development LifeCycle.

Why Capture Lessons Learned?

You learn from your mistakes, right?

At the end of every project, arrange for your team to meet with your customers to discuss what went well and what could have been done better.

The purpose is to:

  • Gain a better understanding of what went wrong
  • How process could be improved
  • Where communications broke down
  • What issues arose during the SDLC
  • Who deserves credit for going the extra yard

After the meeting, capture the information in the Microsoft Word templates and share it with the team so others have an opportunity to learn from this experience and get the kudos they deserve.

Lessons Learned Template Format

Document what worked well and what could have been improved:

Identify the following:

  • Project Name:
  • Project Manager:
  • Meeting Date:
  • Attendees:

Then look at all the key areas during the design, development and testing phases:

  • Project Plans – identify what worked well and areas for improvement in the project management lifecycle
  • Work Plan –identify any mistakes in the work plan and gaps that were overlooked
  • Business Requirements – identify what was missed or not captured correctly when writing the business requirements
  • Design Phase – discuss how well this worked and where it could be improved
  • Development – outline what techniques worked best and where issues arose
  • Test – identify gaps in the testing strategy and how the linkages to the software department could be improved
  • Implementation – discuss how the process worked and how to improve this phase of the development lifecycle
  • Project Management – identify areas where risks, issues and contingencies were captured and how the team could have been managed better
  • Communication – identify how to develop a better communication plan that meets client expectations. You can also look at developing better report writing methodologies.
  • Quality – identify how to improve the quality of the deliverables
  • Risk – identify how to reduce risks and how to track these across all development phases
  • Team Characteristics – identify who in the team performed above expectations and where the team could improve
  • Other Comments – identify other areas that need to be shared with all parties in the development process, such as teamwork, professionalism, work relationships, responsiveness, etc.

Do Lessons Learned Work?

None of this works unless the information you capture is useful, accurate and balanced. The point of the Lessons Learned document (especially when documenting Software Development Projects) is not to blame your staff or to criticize your development team but to share insights that they may have overlooked during the project.

And to ensure that you don’t make the same mistake again 🙂

Pic: duncan