Past projects are a great source of information when you prepare for a new project or bid for a new project.
Many companies have no easy way to find the details of projects they have done in the past. Some may have a list of project titles, but often it is not easy to know what they were about. They don’t have an easy to find past projects register.
In some companies I have worked for in the past, individual people (or sometimes teams) keep their own list of projects they have done in the past. This is their own list, and is not easily or actively shared with others. Those people may be quite successful in their preparation for new projects or bids, but that is only using their own past experience. It does not make use of the experience of those around them or the company as a whole.
People new to the company or industry find it difficult to make use of the experience of those around them or of the company as a whole.
If the company does not share project information well internally, it is much less efficient than it could be.
Your company needs a register or list of past and present projects, or at the very least, your project office needs one.
This should at least list the following:
- Name of the project
- Project manager
- Approximate start and finish dates
- A brief description
- Link to the project documents
- Key words to help searches
This list should be searchable from a database. When starting a new bid or project, a team member could search for a key words, client, or industry that they need some advice on, or that they need examples from. They should be able to easily find the relevant projects and the name of the project manager or another contact person.
Ideally, each completed project should have a summary of what it was about, aims, achievements, costs and other relevant information. It should also identify where the project documents are stored.
A good searchable database that is available to everyone in the company can save a lot of time in preparing bids or setting up new projects. If the searcher is able to identify very similar projects, they can save a lot of time in setting up standard documents. They may also be able to use some of the designs or construction methods again. It can also help identify resources (staff) that could be used on the project.
- Without this, a lot of time is wasted, and costs can increase.
- With a good system in place to make past project information available, companies can reduce costs, increase efficiency, improve the bid win rate, and complete projects more successfully.
- It can also reduce the stress and workload on project managers.
Make sure all project managers are aware of this system, and are trained in its use. It should not be complicated. A good system should be easy enough to use that no training is needed.
Also make sure all projects record their information into this system when they are completed. Without doing so, the system becomes useless.
Make sure your company has a good system for storing and listing past projects. It must be easy to use and be available to all staff. It must also provide all the key information that future projects need.
Doing so can improve project performance and ultimately profits.