At the end of any project, a final report must be presented. This means that every project must have an official conclusion. The drafting of the project final report is the moment in which it is officially communicated that the project has come to an end and that the funds and resources will no longer be needed for it.
The workforce will then be returned to the respective departments and the contracts with the suppliers will be concluded.
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This is a phase that cannot be omitted or reported informally, but must be formalized in a document that:
- Attests what the project team delivered.
- Provides an evaluation of the project in terms of quality of work.
- Evaluates the budget and program performance.
What should a project final report include?
A project final report must necessarily include:
- A description of the process with which the project was approved and the reason why it started.
- A summary of the project execution with the specification if the project has achieved its goals.
- Details on the project budget performance.
- A list of factors that influenced the project results.
- If possible, a description of the financial impact or other benefits that the project will provide on the organization.
- Annexes containing summaries of important project documents, such as the scope document, the project plan, the test results and the final approval / acceptance.
Why is a project final report required?
If the project involves work for an external customer, the preparation of a project final report is generally required by contract. This is enough to show how necessary this report is at the end of a project.
However, even when a final report is not specifically requested, internal and external stakeholders are probably expecting one. Therefore, it is always better to deliver a project final report as soon as possible after completion of the work.
The final report will serve several purposes, including:
- Inform stakeholders that they may not have been actively involved during all the phases of the project, that the project is complete and how it went.
- Inform the other departments or organizations involved that the project has come to an end and that no additional resources or materials will be required. This allows the availability of resources for other projects.
- Document any deviations from the planned budget or program, along with explanations as to why the variances occurred. This can help in the future to draw up a more accurate project plan when it comes to managing similar projects.
- Recognize the efforts of the employees who worked on the project, especially those who contributed more than expected. This type of formal recognition can do much to increase people’s morale and maintain their commitment to the organization.
How to carry out the project evaluation and prepare the final report
Evaluation is a useful tool for stakeholders who have financially or technically supported the project. It means, in fact, assessing whether the project has met its purposes or not.
Evaluation is also important for the project manager in order to reflect on what happened during the course of the project and to learn how to better organize projects in the future.
The evaluation can actually be conducted only once, ie at the end of the project, or several times during the project. It can, for example, be useful when a milestone is reached or in the middle of the project life cycle.
Regular review of activities during the project
At the end of each activity, a partial evaluation of its development is made. It is possible to include an evaluation on the completion of the activity in time and on budget compliance. If there was a delay, it is necessary to write the reason and explain how it was possible to limit the negative impact on the project. If the budget had not been sufficient, it is necessary to explain how the situation has been addressed and how this has affected the project in general. At the end of the project, all the partial reviews will be examined and collected to write a complete and detailed final report.
Interviews with participants
The interview with the participants is one of the fundamental steps for the drafting of the project final report. The project manager speaks directly with each participant in order to assess his level of satisfaction, the impact of the project in his working life and his commitment to the project. It is also very useful to collect possible ideas on how to further develop the project or how to design future similar projects.
Surveys and questionnaires
These allow you to collect a set of data that can produce statistical information. For example, it is possible to view the level of satisfaction of the participants through easy-to-read visual graphs that can be included even in the project final report.
The characteristics of a project final report
Regardless of the chosen project evaluation method, there are some qualities that a final report should absolutely possess:
1) Clarity. The report is a short document that can inform the reader about the main points of interest. It is unlikely that the entire development of the project will be told in such a report. As a rule, it is necessary to remember that the goal is to present how the project was successful and select the relevant information accordingly.
2) Structure. Reports must have a clear structure that will be used as a model. Moreover, they should clearly identify the targets set for the specific time period and demonstrate how they were achieved or not. In the event that something has not gone as planned, the report should provide clear information to understand what has happened and how the organization has addressed the problem.
3) Lessons learned. A good project final report always has a section dedicated to a critical evaluation of the project as a whole. This part is important because it indicates what the organization has learned and communicates how in the future it is possible to develop further projects drawing on what has been learned.
Since there is no way of knowing who could read the project final report and for which purpose, this report should include enough information to be understandable even by those unfamiliar with the project. Whoever reads it must be able to understand the purpose, execution and final result of the project without being overloaded with too much information.
It is obvious that a Project Management Software greatly facilitates the drafting of a project final report. The possibility of sharing documents with all the members of the team and with the stakeholders allows to take into account the individual states of progress of the project and all activities or obstacles that have been met along the way.