Closing a project is not like turning off a computer. After having apparently finished a project, there is still a lot to do and, even if it does not seem, many things can go wrong.
So much time and effort is made in the planning of a project, but often it is forgotten that the end of a project is just as demanding and important.
Once the final products have been delivered, it does not mean that the project is complete. Ignoring the project closure process results in incomplete project management.
These are the goals to be achieved by closing a project:
- Delivery of the final product
- Meet all the requirements of the contract
- Transfer the project to the customer
- Review the project in its success stories and shortcomings
- Guarantee all contracted and received products and services
- Notify suppliers of project completion
- Complete the final report
The 4 steps (+1) for the closure of a project
Below we will describe 4 steps (+ 1) that a PM must take in order to properly close a project. Even skipping just one of them would give a sense of incompleteness such that the manager’s reputation could even be questioned.
1. Organize the post-project
The management of a project does not only concern the activities and resources, the budget and the deadlines, but it is an experience from which one can constantly learn.
Having a meeting with the project team to receive feedback on what worked and what didn’t and encouraging honesty, is a positive practice from which the project manager can have many advantages. In addition to the human relationship that can be established between the members of the Team, thanks to the documentation of the errors and the successes of the project, it is possible to create a catalog that offers historical data and information that can be consulted when planning new projects. Each project closure represents a new knowledge produced.
2. Write a complete documentation at the end of the project
Each project generates a lot of documents that must be signed and approved by the stakeholders. This includes the closure of all contracts that have been entered into with internal partners or suppliers or other possible resources. This also includes the closing of all outstanding payments such as invoices, commissions, bonuses, etc.
3. Release the resources once the project is closed
Putting together a team for the project is a formal and crucial process, but releasing it is just as important. Each team is brought together for the mix of skills and experiences that their members bring to a project. It will be the type of project that will then determine the choice of the team members. Each project will be reflected in the team hired to execute it. This applies to both internal as well as external resources.
In the case of external resources, the closure process may seem more obvious. The contract with them expires and it must be ensured that the resources are paid according to the agreements.
In the case of internal resources instead, which often remain within the same organization, it is necessary to remember that even their time for the project is limited. Once the project is finished, these internal resources could be directed to another project. Therefore, not releasing internal resources in time could lead to difficulties and problems in the case of other projects.
4. Archive project documents
Every old project brings with it the so called lessons learned. However, if you do not have an archive where to find old records, any knowledge acquired is lost due to bad organization and documentation management. If you work hard to get a successful project and its related documentation, then it is essential not to lose it.
Before closing a project, it is important to archive all the documents and all the data that could be useful. Even if you do not directly access it, you need to keep track of the work done for other people in the organization. You never know when someone might be interested in going back in time to find out how an old problem has been solved.
5. Celebrate success at the end of the project
There is nothing stupid about rewarding and celebrating the project team to recognize a successful job. This underlines the closure of the project, but also plants a seed that can flourish in later projects when there will be an opportunity to work together again. When a job well done is underlined and acknowledged, the morale of the team and of the people are being built. This creates a bond of loyalty between project managers and teams. In the future, these resources will be ready to work even harder in other projects.
As you now know, project closure is an important step in any project, simple or complex.
The closure of the project is an educational experience in which many aspects of project management are learned with respect to what was done during the execution of the project.
It is therefore necessary to resist the temptation to immediately start a new project, but concentrate on completing the formal closure process.
Efficient project closure creates value for all project stakeholders, project managers included.