A Lessons Learned Assessment Approach: The Role of Technology through User Requirements

A Lessons Learned Assessment Approach: The Role of Technology through User Requirements

Pierrette Champoux (Champoux Williams Consultants Inc., Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6453-1.ch007
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The approach taken in this chapter is to identify the role of technology to support the lessons learned (LL) process through the presentation of an organization's optimal LL assessment approach. The objective is to identify which user requirements are specifically defining the LL System (LLS) in an organizational context, rather than to list random technologies and their attributes, as is common practice. These requirements will cover the objects of interest on which lessons are gathered, the knowledge objects that support the collection approaches and analyses, the dissemination strategies that need to be implemented, the actions to be taken following the analysis and the necessary actions to exploit that knowledge. A framework is presented to support the execution of the LL assessment approach. The LL framework consists of a structure to categorize all types of information gathered during the assessment, the list of requirements, the models, and the tools.
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The aim of this chapter is to define the role of technology through the execution of an LL assessment. The role of technology is determined by the objectives and needs of the organization. However, these needs, or requirements, must be clearly identified. Therefore, this chapter is not focusing on “which technology” but instead on the procedure (LL assessment) that will naturally guide to the appropriate selection of technologies or tools.

The LL assessment approach compares and contrasts various pieces of information and technologies in the context of a specific set of problems or goal defined by an organization. This grants flexible options based on the organization’s actual needs instead of using tools regardless of their relevancy. Ultimately, the content of this chapter seeks to help readers understand and find the appropriate technological LL solution or path to fulfill their goals by identifying where they are now and where they want to be, and by providing a way to identify options on to how better to get there.

The approach taken in this chapter is based on a system development approach where user requirements – among other kinds of information – are gathered to define the LLS. This is done through the execution of an LL assessment which, based on the organization’s LL objectives, defines and structures what is required to reach them (i.e. specifications or user requirements), while taking into consideration people, objects, processes and technologies (McLaughlin, 2011).

There is a multitude of technological solutions that can be put in place to support the LL process based on how complex and automated its design is. The solution can be implemented quickly and refined gradually by taking advantage of the organization’s current information technology and by introducing new ones to support and automate missing LLS functions. This chapter presents the main building blocks of a generic LLS (functional blocks) and its related requirements (Appendix A) among which an organization can pick and choose to facilitate the definition of the LLS.

To state things in a practical way, an organization needs to define the reason why it wants to implement the LL process – what its main problem area or goal is. Afterwards, the LL assessment is to be put into action; firstly, it facilitates the understanding of what is already accomplished (through the organization’s employees, processes, technology, etc.) and of its effectiveness in achieving the desired outcome. Secondly, the LL assessment helps discover, based on a selected set of user requirements, which avenues would be most relevant according to a defined set of problems in order to attain the desired outcomes.

The advantage of this LL assessment approach is that it facilitates the analysis at all levels, therefore making it easier to develop a solution and a roadmap to implement the solution and reach the organization’s goals (in the form of a combination of procedures, processes, tools, etc.). The level of detail in the assessment depends on the extent of the resources (e.g. time, personnel, and money) that the organization would be inclined to allocate.

The LL assessment activities and the LL framework developed to support them are presented with the help of illustrative examples. Some of these examples are based on the Canadian Forces LLS that were developed between 2003 and 2006. The first version of the LLS was developed and deployed for the Army in 2004. The next version of the system deployed in 2006, the Knowledge Management System (KMS), aimed at supporting all the elements of the Canadian Forces (Air, Sea, Land and Joint) in their management and sharing of knowledge (Champoux & Costello, 2006). As a business architect, researcher and project manager, the author has lead the Canadian Forces in the development and implementation of these systems to support the LL process and the management of knowledge of different military domain within different context (e.g. task support, doctrinal, training, LL).

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