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A Look Back at 2022 with Some Actual Lessons Learned

Actual Lessons Learned

In a previous blog post, What Should a Lessons Learned Process Focus On?’, we concluded that a mature lessons learned process can pay huge dividends, especially for systems integrators that work on a multitude of similar projects under tight deadlines.

Navigate has been fortunate to work with hundreds of integration companies, many who have shared with us some of their most important lessons.

As we look back at 2022, we would like to share the top 5 actual lessons learned with you:


“Always document communications”

This might sound simple, but it isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, especially for a large project that may evolve over three-plus years and involve 25 different key contacts and many other stakeholders.

No matter how basic or menial the conversation may seem, be sure to document it.

If you have a phone call with a contractor, a client representative (such as a principal, teacher, a custodian), or your main contact, outline the details of the call and email it to your project contact list. This will eliminate a lot of confusion and demonstrate your willingness to do more than just handle specific tasks. Everyone involved gets a chance to review the details and you can avoid any “I thought that you said…” conversations.


“Create and confirm a clear line of communication”

Once you’re assigned a project as project manager, you must create a clear line of communication.

You must notify the primary contact of your role. Make it clear that all the preliminary work has been completed and your role as a project manager starts with the transfer of communication responsibilities. Explain that you are the person they need to be in touch with.

The salesperson has taken them through the proposal and contract process; the project coordinator has scheduled the installation and ordered the equipment. Their project is now in the installation phase and you will handle everything from that point on. Explain that you work as a team, and as their project manager, you will coordinate communications on site and within your company. Politely tell them that the technicians on site are available for general questions, but questions about pricing, equipment changes, or contracts should come to you.


“Never assume anything”

Undocumented or uncommunicated assumptions are the surest paths to trouble.

Be sure you’ve explained everything that affects the project in detail. Make a list of people who will be involved in the project, including client’s participants and other contractors. Then take the list and itemize the tasks that each person represents.

Once complete, contact everyone on your list and confirm that they understand their responsibilities and how they affect the timeline of the project. When dealing with your primary contact, review the scope of the project, the equipment being used, and confirm you have the identical vision of the project.

You must remember that the client isn’t the professional here. It could very well be the first time they’ve been in charge of this type of project. Speak in non-technical terms that they can understand. Draw a picture if necessary. Clients will make their own assumptions (you need to make sure they match yours). Remember they may have dealt with several contractors before meeting with you, discussing potential details and changes.

All of this creates plenty of opportunity for poor assumptions. Don’t make them yourself.


“Never implement new equipment without testing”

Even on smaller projects, verify that the specified equipment has been properly researched and that the system engineer fully understands it. Simple specifications may be overlooked when changing equipment in the middle of a project. This could affect assumptions that model changes wouldn’t alter the system design.

Try not to change a vendor/manufacturer once a project has been designed — it leaves too much room for error and could possibly increase the installation time.


“Keep up with your changes”

Even if the changes are internal and don’t affect charges to the client, TRACK EVERYTHING.

If you don’t document changes, the time you save initially could come back to haunt you when service is required. And you must complete the change process in order to furnish the client with accurate as-built drawings. This will affect future additions, programming changes, and ultimately the company’s bottom line.


A well-structured lessons-learned process should be viewed as a gift that keeps on giving; the lack of such as process a debilitating illness without remedies.

What about your integration company?

As you look back at 2022, what are some of your actual lessons learned?

We’d love to hear how you’re going to apply these lessons in 2023.

Please share in the comments below!

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