Everybody talks about it, not everyone does it. We pay more than lip service to the concept of learning lessons on the job.
Applying lessons and knowledge transfer is an important part of any project. However, too often it does not command the priority it needs, is left until the end of the project when the team has demobilised and is focussed elsewhere, or done is in a way that confines it just to that project and the people involved. Although a project is a unique undertaking, projects in our industry are often repeatable and generic in nature with minor elements that make them unique. Therefore, lessons can and should be transferred between projects and even across organisations.
For a drilling contractor, completing Special Periodic Surveys (SPS) or rig modifications are repeatable projects with unique elements. For a field operator, planning and executing a development well or hiring a rig to execute that well is a repeatable project with unique elements.
Project phases are often drawn in a circular repeatable process and referenced as a ‘lifecycle’. Knowledge and lessons should be transferred from each phase of the project and from one project to another within an organization. It’s not just the lessons that are captured that are important but how that knowledge and those learnings are acted upon.
If left to the end of the project, then the capture, analysis and integration of lessons learned loses focus as the project team is often focussed on closing down administrative aspects or mobilizing onto the next project. Of course the team or the individuals take those lessons with them but the maturity of the organization is not developing, high level lessons are not being transferred and other projects are not benefiting from them.
When projects change phases and a lessons learned approach is taken, it presents another opportunity to transfer knowledge to other projects that are entering similar phases or that are due to go through it in the future. We recently worked with a major oil company client where we facilitated knowledge transfer not just through the move from Engineering into Construction within that project but onto another similar project about to enter the Engineering phase and into the other projects in that client that were in Concept and Design
Applied effectively, a robust approach to transferring knowledge and lessons learned between projects can make a big difference to the success of projects and the delivery of goals and business benefits. For more details on our approach to transferring knowledge and lessons learned on projects visit our website at