National Project Management System Directive on Lessons Learned for Real Property Projects

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Table of contents

1. Effective date

June 20, 2016 (updated April 11, 2017)

2. Cancellation

This directive supersedes the National Project Management System (NPMS) Real Property Directive on Lessons Learned, dated August 3, 2015.

3. Authority

This directive is issued under the authority of the Director General (DG), Service Lead, Project Management, Real Property Branch (RPB), Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

4. Context

This directive is to be implemented pursuant to the PSPC Policy on the National Project Management System (106) (page available on Government of Canada network only), and in conjunction with the associated Real Property Branch policy instruments.

5. Scope

This directive applies to all individuals performing project-related activities as part of the Real Property Program that follow the National Project Management System (NPMS).

6. Purpose

The purpose of this directive is to describe the components and requirements of the National Project Management System for the approach to lessons learned for real property projects.

7. Details of the directive

7.1 Lessons-learned process

Lessons-learned activities on real property projects are an essential component of the continual improvement process. In addition to being a key element of good quality management, they also provide an opportunity to evaluate and learn from the many activities that take place throughout real property projects' life-cycles.

The level of effort required in the development and documentation of the lessons learned is directly proportionate to the project size, project complexity, and contracting requirements for the project. Some templates for documenting lessons learned are provided as annexes to this directive, and shall be used in accordance with figure 1: The minimum lessons-learned documentation requirements to be met for different project types.

These are:

The use of the Annex C—Lessons-learned report template is mandatory when a project is over $20 million, or for projects between $1 million and $20 million that have a level 3 or higher project complexity and risk assessment (PCRA). Use of the Annex C report template is also mandatory for all other government department (OGD) projects over $10 million. The level of detail provided in the lessons learned report for projects under $20 million should be proportionate to the size and complexity of the project.

Figure 1: The minimum lessons-learned documentation requirements to be met for different project types

  PSPC Project OGD Project
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
or low risk (if no PCRA) or high risk (if no PCRA)
Up to $250 K A Footnote 1 B Footnote 2 A Footnote 1
$250 K to $1 M B Footnote 2 B Footnote 2
$1 M to $10 M B Footnote 2 C Footnote 3 B Footnote 2
$10 M to $20 M B Footnote 2 C Footnote 3 C Footnote 3
 $20 M C Footnote 3 C Footnote 3

Projects that are not required to complete formal documentation on lessons learned (for example, those which are in situation “B”, with a value between $1 million and $20 million) are encouraged to hold a lessons-learned meeting as part of their close out activities, and to share recommendations with peers working on similar projects. Project lessons learned can be documented at any time during the implementation of a project. However, they shall be reviewed and documented in the Close Out phases of both the Identification and Delivery Stages of the NPMS.

The following is the step-by-step process to be followed.

7.1.1 Step 1—Document review

A. Review existing lessons learned from similar projects

At the start of a project, the Project Leader or Project Manager shall review the lessons-learned repository for similar projects to gain insight into possible issues or opportunities that may arise during the project.

The Lessons-Learned Log from all regions, and all the lessons-learned reports of national interest, are in the real property projects lessons-learned folder of GCDOCSFootnote 4, which is the standard repository for enterprise records and documents. Contact your Regional Gatekeeper for details.

The findings from the review of existing lessons-learned data are to be documented in a log (such as the Annex B—Lessons-learned log template) for reference, and to aid during the risk management process.

Additional existing lessons-learned reviews should be conducted when someone new joins a project, when a new project manager is appointed, or when a new type of work is initiated (for example, at the start of a Building Components and Connectivity installation, or at the start of masonry).

B. Prepare documentation and project plans, considering the insight gained from past lessons learned

The findings from existing lessons learned could be recorded in documents such as the preliminary project plan, the investment analysis report, and/or the project management plan.

7.1.2 Step 2—Project information gathering

A. Document issues/opportunities during project

Anytime throughout the life cycle of a project, the Project Leader or Project Manager is to document lessons learned as directed by the Regional Gatekeeper. This could be either directly into the regional Lessons-Learned Log (such as the Annex B—Lessons-learned log template), or an alternate document/format.

B. Gather input

Consult stakeholders and gather materials that will provide records of decisions, and provide details of events to support the identification of lessons learned. For example:

C. Forward lessons-learned documents to project team

At the end of the identification close out phase, and at Interim Completion of the project, the Project Leader shall forward lessons learned to the project team for review before each lessons-learned meeting. For OGD projects, the Project Manager is responsible for forwarding the lessons learned to the project team at Interim Completion of the project.

7.1.3 Step 3—Analysis (and lessons-learned meeting)

A. Review and assess information

Project staff shall analyze reference material (gathered in step B. Gather input above) to isolate any indication of issues and opportunities that arose during the project's life cycle, and categorize according to the various elements in the Annex B—Lessons-learned log template.

B. Capture the lessons learned

The aim of this step is to understand the origins of issues (positive and negative), and the related process deficiencies (if applicable). Each of the issues should be isolated and its causes discussed by holding a lessons-learned meeting at the end of the Identification and Delivery Stages of a project. Projects over $20 million shall have lessons-learned meetings at least yearly, or at the end of key milestones (i.e. end of design, end of excavation, at completion of building envelope, etc.). At this meeting, objectives can be accomplished by asking questions such as:

The lessons learned must be recorded in the Lessons-Learned Log on file within the Electronic Project Filing Structure (EPFS), which is the standard NPMS filing structure that is described in the NPMS Real Property Procedure on Document Management.

C. Identify lessons learned to be shared

Once the project team has identified which aspects of the project lessons learned should be shared with the real property community, this shall be shared with the Regional Gatekeeper in accordance with his/her instructions. The criteria for sharing are defined by the NPMS governance outside of this directive, and are expected to vary over time.

7.1.4 Step 4—Share lessons learned

A. Review lessons learned for completeness

The Regional Gatekeeper shall review new lessons learned for completeness, correctness and relevance. If documents are not complete, the Gatekeeper is to send them back to the Project Leader/Project Manager for revision.

B. Create/update the regional log

Completed and reviewed lessons learned must be entered into the regional Lessons-Learned Log and posted in the appropriate location in GCDOCSFootnote 4. Regional Gatekeepers can have project staff enter lessons learned directly into the regional log, or may use other means to collect information from project staff.

There shall be only one cumulative Lessons-Learned Log per region for all projects. The regional Lessons-Learned Log should be updated in the GCDOCSFootnote 4 location once a month (unless there are no new lessons learned within a month, in which case the Lessons-Learned Log must be updated within a month of any new lessons learned).

Project Managers and/or Project Leaders are encouraged to disseminate the results of lessons learned with the purpose of discussing what could have been done or what could be done to prevent future recurrence (if negative) through various mechanisms, including: posting lessons learned in a common meeting area for project teams, discussions on lessons learned during monthly staff meetings, holding Lunch and Learn sessions, etc.

This step is intended to provide an opportunity to gather suggestions for improvement of processes and practices. The suggestions provided do not have to be specific to the project, but can be raised as general suggestions. Lessons learned can then be disseminated to project teams across the country through the NPMS Newsletters and training.

7.1.5 Step 5—Feedback and improvement actions

A. Evaluate lessons learned for trends

Regional Gatekeepers shall evaluate lessons learned and discuss with the other Regional and National Gatekeepers to identify trends and action plans to address trends.

B. Recommend improvements

Regional Gatekeepers shall recommend improvements through the appropriate networks regionally and with the other Regional and National Gatekeepers. They may also recommend improvements to this directive or any other process.

C. Monitor actions

Regional Gatekeepers shall monitor and report to the national Gatekeeper on the progress of the actions undertaken to implement the improvements and changes at the regional level.

7.2 When to conduct lessons learned

Specific outputs required for lessons learned are detailed by NPMS phase below. It is encouraged to use a Lessons-Learned Log such as the one found in Annex B—Lessons-learned log template throughout the project to document issues and lessons learned as they occur.

7.2.1 Identification close out phase

Completion of the identification close out phase requires a documentation of lessons learned. Lessons learned can be included in the Identification close out document, or in an external document which shall be referenced in the Identification close out document. Based on the lessons-learned process matrix in Figure 1: The minimum lessons-learned documentation requirements to be met for different project types, external documents shall be either the Annex B—Lessons-learned log template, or the Annex C—Lessons-learned report template. When using Annex B—Lessons-learned log template, the project-specific lessons learned should be filtered from the regional Lessons-Learned Log.

7.2.2 Delivery close out phase

Completion of the Delivery Close Out phase requires a documentation of lessons learned. Lessons learned are required at the completion of the project, and are identified in the Close out document, which provides a separate section for capturing lessons learned, or in an external document which shall be referenced in the close out document, as described in section 7.2.1 Delivery close out phase.

Final lessons-learned meetings are to be carried out prior to or immediately following the issuance of the Certificate of Completion / Final Certificate of Completion of Lessees Improvement.

8. Responsibilities

The Project Leader is responsible for:

In the absence of a PSPC Project Leader, the PSPC Project Manager would typically take on this role (this is applicable to OGD projects).

The Project Manager is responsible for:

The National Gatekeeper is responsible for:

The senior management of Professional and Technical Service Management Sector is to assign the National Gatekeeper role to a person, a committee, or any organizational entity appropriate for fulfilling the role.

The Regional Gatekeeper is responsible for:

In each region, the Regional Director of Professional and Technical Services is to assign the Regional Gatekeeper role to a person, a group of people, a committee, or any organizational entity appropriate for fulfilling the role.

For the Parliamentary Precinct Branch, the Major Crown Projects Sector and the NCA Portfolio Management Sector, the appropriate Director General, or Director, is to make the assignment.

Every project team member is responsible for:

9. Definitions

Continual improvement process:
The NPMS Continual Improvement Process is a process by which improvements are made to the NPMS, on an ongoing basis, that establishes a quality management system for the project management framework. Changes can be initiated through the continual improvement team.
NPMS continual improvement team:
A team with representatives from every region that provides a continual improvement framework of custodianship and sustainability for the management of change activities within the NPMS. It acts as a central authority for the development, review, coordination of approval, and dissemination of information related to the NPMS and the quality of its documentation.
NPMS Newsletter:
A newsletter to all staff managing real property projects; it provides NPMS news and updates, tips, and other relevant information.
Project complexity and risk assessment (PCRA):
A Treasury Board assessment tool that rates the level of risk and complexity of individual projects across four levels by evaluating criteria in each of the following project knowledge areas: project characteristics, strategic management, contract or procurement characteristics, human resources, business, project management integration, engineering or technical components. Projects rated equal to or lower than our departmental delegation as established by the Organizational Project Management Capacity Assessment (OPMCA) are within PSPC's mandate to approve. Treasury Board Ministers have the right to require any project, even if its PCRA is within PSPC's assessed departmental capacity, to be submitted to Treasury Board for project approval.
Real property projects:
These include all real property asset acquisitions or improvements, including entering into a lease, fit-up of accommodation space, and construction, renovation and remediation of a built-work (building, bridge, dam, road, etc.) or Crown-owned land.

10. References

Treasury Board publications

Public Works and Government Services publications

11. Attachments

12. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this directive to

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