Lessons learned practices in the UK construction sector: current practice and proposed improvements

Many construction companies in the UK engage in formal and informal lessons learned practices. However, such lessons learned are not always used to the best advantage to improve future projects; there is a disjoint in the effort spent obtaining lessons learned and their dissemination and use. This paper reports on research aimed at improving lessons learned practices in construction organizations. The paper investigates the gaps in current construction contractors' practices for recording and disseminating lessons learned. A questionnaire survey of top UK construction contractors was conducted to understand current lessons learned practices; this included what the processes were, why they were used and how they were carried out. The research also investigated lessons learned content, its usefulness and the perceived barriers to dissemination. The main findings were: (1) organizations need to collectively identify the lessons needed and target those to specific audiences; (2) the content and format of the lessons learned dictate the way in which the lessons should be captured, stored and disseminated; (3) there is a gap between the tools used for obtaining lessons learned and those found to be useful; and (4) the type of lessons required changes with the context, e.g. organizational priorities and external pressures on the construction environment. The next stage of the research will be to develop these outputs to create a roadmap for the improved dissemination and use of lessons learned in construction organizations.