Disseminating project learning in contracting firms

The construction industry is highly competitive with its clients demanding continuous improvement and highly innovative construction projects that are delivered to key performance indicators such as less time, reduced costs, high quality and fewer accidents. Capturing and disseminating lessons learned is one way of fostering project learning which in turn can contribute positively to continuous improvement. This paper proposes a roadmap that can foster project learning by addressing the challenges of capturing useful lessons learned and disseminating these in an effective manner. The data collection was done in three stages. Firstly a questionnaire survey was sent to the top 122 UK construction contractors to understand current lessons learned practices; this included what the processes were, why they were used, how they were carried out, their usefulness and the perceived barriers to dissemination. Secondly, nine interviews were undertaken to gain a more detailed understanding of companies’ lessons learned practices and the challenges experienced. The interviewees consisted of individuals based in the head offices of construction contractor organisations with responsibility for lessons learned practices. These respondents therefore provided the corporate view of what the organisations did. Thirdly, three focus group interviews where held with site based project teams. This provided a comparison between the corporate views and what happened on construction sites. The roadmap proposed addresses the needs of both corporate and site teams for (1) identifying what is relevant, (2) the processes that should be adopted, (3) the content and format of lessons learned, (4) the types of repositories, (5) the dissemination mechanisms and (6) the feedback loops. Each of these stages is accompanied by checklists to provide examples of typical tools.