The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned: 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned

2nd Edition

By Willis H. Thomas

Productivity Press

214 pages | 24 B/W Illus.

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For some organizations, Lessons Learned (LL) is an informal process of discussing and recording project experiences during the closure phase. For others, LL is a formal process that occurs at the end of each phase of a project. Regardless of when they are performed, if you are a project team member, chances are you will soon be required to present an evaluation of your project using Lessons Learned.

Presenting new information that updates the award-winning first edition,The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned, Second Edition supplies practical guidance on conducting project Lessons Learned. The first edition won the Project Management Institute's (PMI®) David I. Cleland Project Management Literature Award. Following in the footsteps of its popular predecessor, this second edition provides an easy-to-follow, systematic approach to conducting Lessons Learned on a project.

  • Updated to align with the PMBOK® Guide, Fifth Edition
  • Includes three new chapters—PRINCE2®, Agile Retrospectives, and Knowledge Transfer— in response to information requests from readers of the first edition from around the world
  • Enhanced with valuable new resources in the Project Evaluation Resource Kit (PERK) found on the free CD included in the back of the book, including a fully functional MS Access Lessons Learned Database

The research in this book is based on four years of doctoral dissertation research and is supported by renowned experts in the field of evaluation. The concepts covered are applicable to all types of organizations that implement projects and need to conduct Lessons Learned.

Providing tools and techniques for active engagement, the text is founded on the principles of conducting project evaluations as recommended by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession, and PRINCE2® (Project in Controlled Environments version 2), a major governing body of project management.

Simplifying and formalizing the methodology of conducting LL in projects, the contents of this book will help organizations, large and small, more effectively implement processes and systems to support effective LL. The text is supported by a Project Evaluation Resource Kit (PERK), which is found in CD format at the back of the book.

Table of Contents

An Overview of Project Management

What Is a Project?

Why Project Management?

Project Management Process Groups

Project Management Knowledge Areas

Boundaries of Project Management

Who Is a Project Manager?

Programs versus Portfolios

What Is Lessons Learned?

Who Is a Lessons Learned Project Team Member?

What Project Knowledge Is Required?

What Competencies Are Essential?

Team Development Process

Organizational Structures

Organizational Cultures

Who Are Project Stakeholders?

Working with Project Stakeholders

Use the STYLE Framework to Discover Stakeholder Style

Use the TYPE Grid to Classify Stakeholders

Resolving Stakeholder Neutral Opinions

Project Management Office

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter

Suggested Reading

Foundations of Evaluation

Origins of Evaluation

Lessons Learned in Project Management

Classifications of Evaluation

Is Project Evaluation Complex?

What Is Component Evaluation?

What Is Outcome Evaluation?

Lessons Learned Is Project Learning

How Can Lessons Learned Be Used?

Is Intraproject Learning Feasible?

What Investment Is Required to Conduct Lessons Learned?

What Is Appreciative Inquiry?

Descriptive versus Evaluative Knowledge

Tacit, Explicit, and Embedded Knowledge

Determining Competence and Defining Competencies

What Is the DIKUD Continuum?

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading

The Lessons Learned Process

The Need to Evaluate Projects

Lessons and the Adult Learning Theory

Individual, Group, and Organizational Learning

Journaling to Capture Learning

Determining Needs and Wants

Lessons Learned Process











Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading

Lessons Learned Support Systems and Repositories

What Is a Lessons Learned Support System?

Why Use a Lessons Learned Support System?

What Is a Lessons Learned Repository?

Computer-Based Repositories versus Paper-Based Systems

Digital versus Electronic

Features of a Computer-Based Repository

Functions of an Electronic Repository

Benefits of an Electronic Repository

Records Management

Knowledge Management

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter

Suggested Reading

Best Practices and Benchmarking

Communities of Interest

Communities of Development

Communities of Practice

What Are Best Practices?

What Is Benchmarking?

Comparative versus Competitive Analysis

Choosing a Measurement Approach

Good Business Practices and Bulletins

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading

Case Studies


Case Studies



Center for Army Lessons Learned

Eli Lilly

Hurricane Katrina

Kentucky Transportation System



Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems

University of Massachusetts

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading

Lessons Learned Scenarios in Real Life

Scenario Analysis


Customer Relationship Management



Facilities Management



Professional Association Management



Developing Role Plays Based on Scenarios

Advanced Role Playing

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter

Suggested Reading

Capacity Building through Evaluation

What Is Capacity Building?

High-Quality Lessons Learned

Approaches to Conducting Evaluations

Popularized Evaluation Models

Research Methods

Measurement Practices

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter

Suggested Reading

Project Evaluation Management

Project Evaluation Management

Project Evaluation Plan

Evaluation Reporting

Good Documentation Practices versus Documentation Quality Standards

Visualization and Presentation

Project Management Network Diagrams


Gantt Charts

PEM as a New Knowledge Area?

Collaborative Evaluation

Microevaluation versus Macroevaluation

Key Evaluation Checklist

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading

Agile Retrospectives

What Are Agile Retrospectives?

A Brief History of Agile Project Management

Important Agile Project Management Retrospective Concepts to Understand

Newly Identified Resources for Agile Project Management and Retrospectives

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


PRINCE2: Lessons Log and Lessons Report

What Is PRINCE2?

Using the Lessons Log in PRINCE2

Using the Lessons Report in PRINCE2

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Knowledge Transfer

What Is Knowledge Transfer?

How Is Knowledge Management Related to Knowledge Transfer?

Who Is Responsible for Knowledge Transfer?

Where Should Knowledge Be Transferred?

When Should Knowledge Transfer Occur?

Why Is Protecting Knowledge Transfer Important?

Which Barriers to Knowledge Transfer Should Be Addressed?

Plus/Minus/Delta (+/–/Δ)

What are Pluses?

What are Minuses?

What are Deltas?

Lessons That Apply to This Chapter


Suggested Reading



Terms and Definitions


Knowledge Management

Lessons Learned

Project Management

Records Management

Research Methods

Measurement Practices

Supply Chain Management

Visualization and Presentation

Concluding Thoughts


About the Author

Willis H. Thomas, PhD, PMP, CPT, has been involved in training and development, organizational effectiveness, and quality operations in the pharmaceutical, telecommunications, and information technology industries. As an employee, he has worked for large companies such as Xerox, Ameritech, Brinks, and Pfizer. As a consultant, he has serviced companies across many different industries around the globe, specifically in the areas of project management and evaluation.

He maintains a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) and a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT) certification from the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI).

Willis is the author of a book published in November of 2011 entitled The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned, New York, NY: Productivity Press. His book was recognized as Best of the Best publications by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in October of 2012 and received the coveted Cleland award at the PMI Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada, on October 20, 2012. He is also the author of The Basics of Achieving Professional Certification: Enhancing Your Credentials, published in November of 2013. In this book, ASTD was recognized as a best practice.

He has been a guest speaker for numerous educational institutions (i.e., Western Michigan University and University of South Florida) and professional associations (i.e., AEA, ASTD, PMI, APICS, and IVT). He has authored a variety of articles on project management and evaluation in recognized journals and publications. In the area of project management, he has taught many courses worldwide for the International Institute for Learning.

Willis holds a PhD in Evaluation from Western Michigan University. The title of his dissertation was "A Metaevaluation of Lessons Learned Repositories: Evaluative Knowledge Management Practices in Project Management." In line with his extensive research, he has developed a comprehensive website on project management that focuses specifically on lessons learned at <>.

Current Professional Memberships: AEA, APICS, ASTD, PMI, and ISPI

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Project Management