How to close a project?
How to close a project? Project Manager’s involvement at the closing stage:
Many seem to think that project closing is not an important process in project management, which is however not the fact. Project closing is as important as other processes in project management. Until and unless your project has been closed with the planned procedures, it values null and void. You might have delivered the deliverables, but this does not mean your project is complete. Ignoring this process results incomplete project management at the project manager’s end. As closing a project is as important as initiating it, let’s take a look at the activities involved in the project closing stage:
Formal Sign-off from the customer:
You have delivered the deliverables (Products, Services, or Result); however it does not mean your project is over. You need to get a formal sign-off from the customer on the delivered deliverables. If it is positive from the customer’s end, it can be declared as completed projects. Just imagine a worst scenario – if the customer after receiving the deliverables say that it is not up to the mark and you need to rework on the process again, that will be incurring more cost along with rework. Another serious problem would be to regroup the project team again. Therefore, formal sign-off is very essential for finally closing projects.
Final analysis of the product scope:
You should always analyze your product scope as planned during planning stage – whether it is up to the mark or not. Note: The features of the product scope should meet 100%. Only after clarifying the same, the project should be considered as complete.
Release the resources:
After delivering the deliverables and receiving formal sign-off from the customer you must hand over the resources to the concerned department so that they can be used for other projects. You must follow the correct policies of your performing organization while releasing the resources.
Procurement or other contract closure:
If some other third party vendor or any sub contractors are working on your process that contract needs to be closed for a formal closure process. It is not ideal that you have delivered the deliverables to your customer without closing the contract with your vendors. Once they have delivered the products to you and you have delivered the same to your end customer, the contract paper should be closed. There is no meaning of that contract after acceptance of the deliverables.
Indexing of the project files:
Once the project is over and the deliverables has been handed over to the customer and the customer agreed upon it; you should compile the project files and convey the same to your entire key stakeholders. The archived files could be used in future.
Lessons learned documentation:
Again, as mentioned above, if you have received a formal sign-off from your end customer on the delivered deliverables; you need to work on documenting the lessons learned from this project which can be used as reference for future projects. Such documentation could be reused and you need not work on that documentation again and again. Under what circumstances the change request was accepted or rejected, history of the schedule control, and cost control could be assessed with the lessons learned. It serves as an important document in case of project closure. You should involve all of your stakeholders during that process.
Celebration of a party:
And finally the stage arrives where you need to arrange a get together party involving all your team members and all your stakeholders. They should feel the success they made altogether. This portion is usually ignored by many project managers but this work as a good team motivation for the entire team involved in the project. Ideally you should go for milestone parties after the end of long term projects. If possible, you should involve your end customer and third party vendors also in the celebration party to make it a huge success altogether. This defines complete closure of a project.
Pradip Dwevedi, PMP