Readers of my new book Lessons Learned:  Taking Project Management to a New Level in a Continuous Process Improvement Framework will know that I present a Framework for identifying, capturing, documenting, and sharing “actionable” project lessons learned with the organization, and incorporating them in the project process.

Along with this Framework, I have presented a number of courses on this subject through, CMCS (Collaboration Management and Control Solutions) in Dubai, and through my own consulting firm, MBPE LLC.Walk on the wild side
Creative Commons License photo credit: Maëlle Caborderie

In a course that I conducted in Dubai in 2012 with participants from several engineering companies and an airline, there were a number of potential candidate for a project lesson learned that we discussed as a group.  In one case, as the group discussed the details, several participants commented that they did not believe that the candidate qualified as a project lessons learned.  Instead, the scenario that we were discussing pointed to the fact that the project organization in question did not have sound Engineering Practices in place upon which to build their project management process.  As we discussed it further, the entire group agreed.

This led to a discussion about having Good Project Management Practices in place as a foundation for the project process.  Many practices are developed in-house or they rely on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), or they adopt some methodology that may or may not be suited to their business.

Recently I found an excellent book which presents a very sound, business practice approach to the underlying project process which forms the foundation for PMO and project work.  Daniel Epstein and Rich Maltzman have just published a book entitled Project Workflow Management:  A Business Process Approach by JRoss Publishing.

This book has an excellent Foreword by Harold Kerzner whom we all recognize as the “Dean” of project management practice worldwide.  Kerzner discusses the search over many years for a good foundation process and practice for PMO and Project work.  The Workflow presented by Epstein and Maltzman is exactly what we have been looking for.

The Project Workflow elements that Epstein and Maltzman have offered us provide a good starting point for “actionable” process improvements by any organization based on specific business contexts.  This is extremely important when setting up a PMO or a project group so that you will be able to move forward with “capabilities” defined in the Workflow from the beginning.

I would highly endorse my blog readers to consider Project Workflow Management as a reference text when defining a foundation project management process for your project group.  I firmly believe this is the “finesse” we have been seeking individually in our project groups for many years.

For those readers who may still be skeptical of what a foundational practice might provide, there is an analogy that bears consideration.

Suppose you have a great pair of shoes that is both comfortable and allows you flexibility to engage in many activities that require ease of body movement.  Now, suppose one day you wear a different pair of shoes that makes some movements more difficult and you notice these uncomfortable situations as the day goes on.  Your activities might be a little more difficult with the second pair of shoes.  You might be more “tentative” in your choice of activities and your overall performance suffers.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a great foundational pair of shoes everyday so that movements are effortless?  That is what a good sound, business practice in project management provides: flexibility and performance with little or no thought or effort.  And the feedback from stakeholders, customers, auditors and anyone else is easier to incorporate in your project process if you have a good foundation.

So, move on to my Framework for developing “actionable” project lessons learned.  You will be very pleased with continuous process improvement results you achieve and it will be enhanced if you incorporate the Workflow which Epstein and Maltzman have given us.

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