Lancaster is motivated by a desire to win every game and, despite battling performances in all three Tests against the Springboks, his side fell short of that objective.
But with the series lost after defeats in Durban and Johannesburg, they at least ended on a positive note by claiming a creditable 14-14 draw in the final Test at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Lancaster, in his first assignment since being appointed full-time, feels he has learned much but is already plotting the way forward with a new elite performance squad to be named early next month.
Lancaster said: "It has been a fantastic opportunity to take a wider group of players and work with them.
"That has been the real benefit of the tour, getting a real understanding of the strengths and areas we need to look at to go forward.
"We should be getting to a point as a team where we are competitive and winning every game has got to be the mindset.
"We have now got a team of young players and experienced players coming through together in an environment they enjoy and the culture is strong. I think it augurs well for the future.
"But we didn't win the first two Tests and we drew the third - that ultimately means disappointment from my point of view.
"But there are a lot of positives we can take.
"In the last Test we could have used every excuse not to put in a performance but we didn't.
"We rolled our sleeves up and fought to the end. We possibly could have edged it at the end."
Lancaster has earned praise for transforming the mood of the England side over the second half of the season after the disaster of last autumn's World Cup.
Having initially been given the job in an interim capacity, he led them to an unexpected second place in the RBS 6 Nations having brought in a batch younger players.
He said: "In certain positions we have got real strength in depth.
"You can see in some cases a slight changing of the guard taking place with a new generation coming through.
"Last night (positions) 10, 12 and 13 were under-21s. Joe Marler is just 21, Alex Goode 24."
Lancaster will also now consider the make-up of his backroom staff.
Former England playmaker Mike Catt has worked with the team as backs coach during the tour and could now join forwards coach Graham Rowntree as a permanent member of the group.
Lancaster has also not ruled out bringing in an additional coach, possibly a defence specialist, and speculation continues to link Andy Farrell with a return to job he fulfilled during the Six Nations.
Lancaster said: "In terms of the coaching team, we have all been flat out from minute one.
"Mike has been fantastic while Simon Hardy and Jon Callard have contributed fully to the tour.
"We will have a good sit down and think about the composition of the coaching team going forward.
"Our next staging post is the EPS squad, which will be announced in a couple of weeks."
Lancaster's efforts have also been acknowledged by the Rugby Football Union, although chief executive Ian Ritchie has warned there is no room for complacency.
Ritchie said: "We start off from a presumption we want to win every game and we look at what happened during the tour on that basis.
"That said, I think that we achieved a lot. Yesterday's performance was a committed one, to come here and get a draw - history proves how difficult it is to come here and win.
"I think in all three games we were competitive.
"We want to do better and we will do better but there are a lot of positives to take out of the whole tour and we can look forward to the autumn series with confidence.
"To get to the third match and put in the performance we did after a tiring season was a real achievement but - make no bones about it - we want to make sure this is a platform to move on and do even better."
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