Every project has a definite beginning and also an end. And as you know, every process in project management lifecycle has a specific objective. But unfortunately, the project closing seems to hold no aim. Because most often organizations with a lot of project activities try to finish it as quickly as possible and just move on to the next job.
This shows how they choose to leave this formal and valuable ‘project closing’ process in a hurry to continue with the next project launch.
Let’s talk about the project closing phase. Project closing phase is the last phase in the project management lifecycle that indicates the official closing of a project.
This phase list a key of activities like releasing resources, recording project documents, closing project accounts, and archiving records. Irrespective of the fact that the project is a success or failure, there are always some lessons to learn for an organization.
So, even if the project ends, the documentation of a project serves as a useful tool for finishing off the coming projects successfully.
The Importance of Project Closing
As the project management industry is seeing tremendous growth, the importance to pay due diligence on how assignments end has also become more important than ever.
However, it seems daunting to put an extra effort into something that is over. So, if you don’t close a project properly, you may invite some tough situations for you and your company.
Like clients may come up to you complaining that the things are not properly done, realizing after the project launch that some important element was missing.
Any of such problems could derail the new projects that you are working on. Follow these tips to give a thriving closing to your project.
Steps to Close the Project
1.Look back to identify the lessons learned
Project management is not just about resources and tasks, or deadlines and budget. It’s an experience during which you can learn constantly.
While you may have learnt a lot throughout the whole project, the end of the project is a great time to sit back and think about the pressure and distractions that might have taken your focus.
Arrange an informal gathering to invite your core team for constructive feedback. It should encourage honesty and document the successes and mistakes so as to build a catalogue including historical data.
The team should put suggestions for new ideas and improvement that were successful. The outcome of the meeting should include procedures, recommendations and processes that can help improve the quality of future projects.
Such kind of session provides practical learning opportunities to everyone in the team. There is a production of wealth of knowledge after any project closure.
2. Conducting Post-project Review and Documentation
Project closure and post-implementation review report are some important elements of project documentation. But, the question lies here is when to use a project closing report. Prepared by the project manager, the project closure report is presented before the client for a sign-off.
This report helps the project manager to seek input and client views of the project that remains after the project completion.
What’s inside the closure report of the project?
The closure report of the project is a confirmation to inform that all the project requirements are complete. It requests the sign-off from clients or project sponsors to close the project.
This report consists of a formal list of specific project closure criteria’s, confirmation that each requirement or criteria are met, list of business activities, issues and risks, a set of project closing actions like releasing resources, terminating suppliers and handing over deliverables), and a formal request for project closure.
What’s inside the post-implementation review report?
This review report documents the entire project history. It includes the schedule and all the records of the planned and actual budget. It also includes recommendations for projects with similar scope and size.
This report offers documentation for the following:
- The effectiveness of schedule
- The organization of project including staffing and resources
- The assessment of risks and techniques for mitigation
- The techniques used to communicate project and handle customer expectations
- The records of financial data
- The details of processes, including change control and quality management
Of particular importance for everyone in the project team is learning from lessons that are available as a new procedure or comments on achieving the project. Also, this report officially closes all the contracts with partners, vendors or other resources.
It addresses all the outstanding payments as well. It ensures the successful payment of all the commissions, invoices, bonus, fees and resources you’ve.
3. Archiving of Project Data
Archiving of project data is necessary to pull out the old records to look back on whatever knowledge you’ve gained from past projects. So, build a repository of old projects to use it as a reference source as well as a training tool for PM’s. It is also useful for developing metrics on future teams productivity. The list of data archived includes the following:
- Review reports
- Project planning report
- Management control documents like relevant meeting notes, status reports and contract files
- Technical documents
Even if you don’t access them in future, it is important to keep them as a paper trail of tasks performed on a project. As you never know when someone needs to go back over and see how the old issues were resolved.
4. Releasing resources
There are small tasks like filling required reports, finishing any outstanding paperwork and paying everybody. You’ve to release the project team, which is the crucial and formal process to set the team free for next project.
The team with a mix of experience and skills is brought together to complete a project. Based on the project, team members will work, and as each project is somewhat different from the other, the team will reflect that in its execution.
This is true for both internal and external resources. The external ones are likely more important because the contract is made with them. So, when the project is over, they are all fully paid so that they can sign off the contract and leave. While in case of internal resources, you must keep in mind that the project time is limited as well.
Thus, do not block the projects of another team by not releasing the processes after the project is over.
5. Celebrating Achievement
Recognizing staff achievement should not sound silly to you. As rewarding is an effective management technique to set the stage for success in future. So, it is important to recognize the team or individual to acknowledge the job well done.
This creates the closure of the project, which is basically the essence of this part of the project. It will develop a sense of confidence that will reflect in the later projects and continuing with the old team members.
Because when you do this, you’re making your team member feel great. While you possibly have been a hard task manager during the project, you’re giving them their due for their good job. And the next time, the team will work harder. Therefore, you should not close a project to lose the crucial resources that made your project successful.
You can hold an informal party before a team member starts to work on the next projects. Providing T-shirts, mugs, pens, or other gift items is a great way to commemorate the project. Some other ways of celebrating success include promotion of project success to key stakeholders. Or you can also write a few articles explaining your project’s experience.
Bonus Point: Take a nice break
If you can, take a nice break from work and congratulate yourself on project success. This will help set your mind fee for your next project launch.
This advice is not only for complex projects. As that’s pretty obvious to deep breather to get ready before such projects. Toss everything to clear your head and refrain yourself from a mental period at the project end.
It’s ideal if you go out and look above in the sky to inhale some of the fresh air. Give yourself time to go through the last review on loose ends from your project retrospective.
Feel the emotions on your team’s faces when you gift them a tiny cupcake designed with brand colours. Reset yourself for the next big launch and pat your back.
The Advantages of a Perfect Project Closure
The project closing process is an important step to develop suitable strategies. It is a common thing to see that the project team easily moves on to the next project after the execution phase. And this is why the project will remain incomplete and without this important process.
However, if in a complete project lifecycle, all the efforts by the team are towards the smooth and efficient closing of the project, any delay may not happen.
Like when the contract and other deliverables are signed-off by the client, it prevents project delays by the involvement of the client or customer during the entire project lifecycle.
The most important thing to understand here is that budget overruns or project delays can adversely affect the organization.
On the other hand, if the project closing is smooth, it will turn out to be cost-effective in a long-term business. The documentation of lessons learnt is also valuable to determine the potential difficulties in this process.
It also includes the development of appropriate strategies for smooth project closure. It is thereby very essential for project managers to realize the significance of project closing process.
They must formulate a list to note down all the steps and activities in the initial project stages, review it on a daily basis and then perform the timely execution.
A great job in project closing will leave the team members motivated enough to remain involved. This will make them do remarkable things in future projects. Moreover, a project with an effective conclusion will leave enough documentation associated to help anyone learn, duplicate from the results in future. This way they do not have to figure out from scratch.