All projects should document their lessons learned. A ‘lessons learned’ log gathers all information that may be useful to other projects.

Although it’s important to gather any mistakes or issues, why they happened, and how they might have been avoided, you should also include things that went well and unanticipated benefits too. It’s just as important to remember what worked well and do that again, as it is to avoid the things that didn’t work.

When to start the log

Don’t wait until the end of the project to start to fill in the lessons learned; it’s difficult to remember everything you’ve encountered at the end of a project. As busy as you might be during the project, it’s much easier in the long run to note the lessons learned at the time. It doesn’t have to be a large amount of work, if the log is created at the start, it can take just a minute or two to make a quick update on the log there and then, and you can always tidy it up later on.

Project closure report

Following completion of a strategic project, the Project Manager will be required to complete a Project Closure Report, which must include the lessons learned. It should then be submitted to the Project Governance Office via who will arrange for the report to be considered at the relevant sub-group of PCG.

What to include

  • Methods used to estimate, plan, manage and control the project and how effective/efficient they were.
  • Recommendations for future projects to either take up, or avoid, ways of working.
  • Measurement of how much effort was required to produce the various products or process changes.
  • Delivery of the project against the agreed schedule, and if there were any changes to this, why they occurred.
  • Delivery of the project against the budget.
  • How effective the project governance structure and project team were, and if there were any ways they could have been organised differently.
  • The impact events had on the project in terms of cost, timescale and/or quality.
  • Any personnel related impact (e.g. on morale).
  • Approach to project planning.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the project communications.

Where to get information

The risk and issues log will be extremely valuable when completing your lessons learnt log. Review the risk and issues that you have identified and the mitigation you have put in place, think about what you would have done differently or what worked particularly well.

Using the project meetings as an opportunity to discuss what could have been done differently, or why things have occurred is useful. Also reviewing any meeting and action notes as a prompt as to when/why things happened and the approach taken to manage them.

Asking for feedback from your stakeholders, other members of your project team and even your end user group is also a good technique to use.

Lessons learned log

  • Give each ‘lesson learned’ a unique ID number, e.g. LL01, LL02.
  • Provide a short description of the lesson learned.
  • The impact on the project in terms of costs, timescale and/or quality.
  • The lesson learned, what you would change or do differently.
  • Who raised or owned the particular lesson (useful in case further clarification is needed or a future project needs advice on this issue).


  1. ID
  2. Issue
  3. Impact
  4. Lesson
  5. Raised by
  6. Action agreed (at project closure)

The log can be held in any format, such as a table, and Smartsheet templates are also available.

Action agreed (at project closure)

This should be left blank until the project closure meeting, where the committee (the relevant sub-group of PCG) may recommend any follow up action.

  • The project board or steering group should review the recommendation from the committee and the actions should be entered in this section.
  • Each action should have a responsible person identified, and a timeframe if relevant.
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