Forget about seagull management or the never-ending story – your project has to be closed!
Organizations characterized by a lot of project activity often finish them as soon as possible, wash their hands and rush headlong into the next job. Some just remain to eventually fade. Team members gradually disappear, move on to the next shiny new assignment, or just hang around to finish things. In both cases, they are unlikely to use valuable, formal close-out processes.
By definition, a project has a beginning and an end. It is therefore essential that each of these important milestones is well planned and managed to achieve optimal success. With the project management industry growing rapidly and with a steep learning curve, it is more important than ever to pay attention to how contracts end. Many organizations do not properly manage closings. It is usually because they do not include the process in the original plan.
Key elements of project closure
Project closure has a number of important elements. The level of detail and sophistication of each depends on the size of the organization and the complexity of the assignment.
The main actions for close-out are:
• Identify lessons learned
• View and document
• Archive records
• Recognize excellent performance
• pay out resources
Identify lessons learned
The end of an assignment is a good time to sit back and think about performance and to identify and prepare to share what has been learned.
This happens in a ‘learned session’. This could be an informal meeting of key project people or a large formal meeting, including: the project team, stakeholders (internal and external) executive management, supervisors and operations personnel.
For optimal results, the ‘lessons learned from the session’ should assume an aura of constructive feedback. The group should discuss suggestions for improvement and new ideas that were very successful in the mission. Focus on the top 5 or 10 problems. The result should be recommendations, procedures and processes that can be modified to improve the quality of future assignments. These assessments can provide practical learning opportunities for all concerned. Such a session can facilitate the official but also emotional conclusion of a project. It also provides a forum for public recognition of outstanding contributions.
Review and document
There are several documentation elements that should be covered: a Project Closure Report, Post Implementation Review Report and data archiving.
Success (in terms of results) is defined in the early stages of planning, but there are other factors to measure, including:
• Are we the first success factors achieved?
• Do stakeholders view the results in a positive light?
• Is the project well managed?
• Did team members work well together?
• Has the team understood the roles and progress on all counts?
When should you use a project closing report?
A Project Closure Report is a document that formalizes the closure of the project. It
is usually prepared by the Project Manager and presented for signature to the client or project sponsor.
Ideally, the PM should seek input from the entire project team, customers or end users and other stakeholders. The Project Closure Report enables the PM to characterize the client’s vision of the project that will survive upon completion.
What does a Project Closure Report say?
The Project Closure Report confirms that the project meets the success criteria and asks the sponsor to close the project. A Project Closure Report contains:
• A formal list of completion criteria
• Confirmation that each criterion is met
• A list of outstanding business activities, risks and problems
• A series of closing actions (eg: Deliver products / documentation, terminate suppliers, release resources)
• A formal request for project closure.
In all projects there are some tasks that cannot be completed. In order to effectively manage the closure, it is crucial to identify to whom outstanding issues should be transferred. After the activities have been completed, a post-implementation evaluation will be carried out to measure the project’s success and record the lessons learned for future projects.
What is an assessment report after implementation?
A Post Implementation Review Report documents the history of a project. It offers
an overview of the planned and actual budget and planning. It should include recommendations for other projects of comparable size and scope. The report must document the following analyzes:
• Project organization including personnel and skills
• Plan effectiveness
• Successful risk assessment and mitigation techniques
• Processes used for change control and quality management
• Techniques used for project communication
• Techniques to deal with customer expectations
• Success factors and how they were achieved
• Financial data – planned and current
• Lessons learned (from lessons learned)
• Recommendations to future project managers
Of particular interest to learning organizations are the documentation of lessons learned and risk management strategies. Lessons learned should be documented as new procedures or as comments on the realization of the project. Problems encountered by the project team should be presented candidly. Taking responsibility and responsibility for problems is critical to developing useful advice for future activities.
After project completion, all project risks can be closed, as is no longer allowed
are risks that can affect the project results. Risks must be formally closed by the project steering group, project management or sponsor.
Collect and archive project data
After delivery of the Post Implementation Review Report, the project database is archived. Building a repository of past projects serves as a reference source and training tool for project managers. Project archives can be used when estimating projects and developing statistics on the likely productivity of future teams.
Usually the following project data is archived:
1. Post Implementation Assessment Report
2. Project plan Project
3. Management control documents:
b. Relevant minutes
c. Status reports
d. Contract files
4. Technical documents
Create an electronic file of all materials used to plan, execute and evaluate the project. Maybe burn a CD to keep it in the future.
Recognition of achievement
Management experts generally agree that rewarding staff performance is an effective management tool that paves the way for future success. It is important to recognize teams and individuals who have achieved the goals or exceeded expectations.
A ‘wrap-up party’ is a fun, casual way to do this – before team members move on. Another option is to provide T-shirts, mugs or other items that commemorate the project. Other ways to recognize achievements include promoting project successes to key stakeholders or writing articles in professional journals about the project’s experience and lessons learned. In addition to recognizing personnel, chronic projects also contribute to the wider knowledge of the industry.
There are minor tasks that must be completed to physically close the project. These could include paying everyone, filling out any open documents, submitting required reports, notifying anyone to notify, throwing out the trash, and cleaning up the factory, warehouse, or workspace.
As part of opt-out, the project manager can have discussions with project staff about what they have learned and career opportunities it offers. Generally, once all t’s are crossed and i is dotted, the slate should be clear and there should be no residual remnants of old projects interfering with future activities.
Leave satisfied, well-trained and motivated
Those who do an excellent job at completing projects leave teammates motivated to get involved and do great things for future projects. A well-completed project will leave enough documentation so that anyone who wants to learn in the future, duplicate the results or build on them can do this without having to figure it out all over again.