Ayonda Dent

Presentation: Lessons Learned to Prevent the PM Insanity

Abstract: Lessons Learned are one of the most valuable sources of intellectual property for any organization, but often one of the most underutilized. Although traditionally held at the completion of a project, lessons learned may be identified at any point during the project’s life cycle.

The concept of lessons learned has been adopted at the Census Bureau and other organizations as a formal process, but often times it is simply a check off box during project close-out. There is no common standard for lessons learned to be used to form guidelines and best practices, or a knowledge management system at the enterprise level. In many cases, lessons from past projects are seldom reviewed by project managers at the onset of recurring or similar projects. Programs then continue to do the same thing and expect different results, which is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. This leads to a waste in time, resources, and reduction in quality.

Over the course of nine years of facilitating lessons learned sessions, I have noticed that no matter the technical area or group, there is a pattern of the same root causes of project failures or less than favorable project outcomes. This research will examine qualitative data captured during these sessions conducted across the Census Bureau. It will focus on the root causes of issues that project managers and team participants faced during the project life cycle and the derived solutions they agreed upon to keep the problems from recurring in the future.

PMI Talent Triangle: Technical Project Management

Biography: Ayonda Dent has worked at the Census Bureau since 2002. She started her career as a Mathematical Statistician, but in 2011 her love for project management led her to the role as a project management facilitator and consultant serving all Census Bureau directorates.

In this role, she led teams in building project schedules, requirements gathering, process improvement, lessons learned and other project management efforts. She also guided leadership teams in developing strategic plans and effective agendas for management off-sites. She then went to work in the enterprise project management office where she was responsible for establishing and providing program and project management policy and guidance to the Census Bureau.

Ms. Dent currently serves as the chief of the Program Management Branch in the American Community Service office where she manages the program and project management for the division.

Ayonda earned her Master’s Degree in Statistics with a minor in Policy Analysis from the American University and Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics from Elizabeth City State University. She has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management and a Business Analysis citation from George Washington University.