The formal closure of the project may seem of little importance. With all the tasks completed and the goal of the project achieved, what about a short meeting in a friendly atmosphere and mutual congratulations? For this too, it is worth planning an appropriately long meeting with the team and stakeholders. Bear in mind though, that project closure is the key moment not only because of the integration of those involved in the project.
Project closure – table of contents:
- How about dropping closure after all?
- How to close a project well
- List of tasks when closing the project
Project management can be presented as five groups of processes including:
- Initiation – defining its scope and meaning,
- Planning – establishing the scope of the project and specific goals to be achieved,
- Execution – the execution of the planned work,
- Monitoring and control – checking on an ongoing basis whether the work is going according to plan,
- Closure – the formal completion of the project.
Today we will focus on the last group of processes, namely project closure. This is a small group of tasks. However, it has quite an impact on the perception of the entire project, similar projects carried out within the same portfolio or portfolio, as well as future projects carried out for the same client. We will suggest what to pay attention to successfully close the project, complete the contract and draw the most interesting lessons for the future.
How about not doing the project closure at all?
Giving up the task of project closure seems tempting. Having achieved the goal, a smoother transition to the initiation of the next project seems better. Applying the knowledge and skills gained from recent tasks now seems simple and intuitive. However, skipping the formal project closure comes also with certain risks. Here’s why.
Deterioration of image
Deterioration of the team’s and Project Manager’s image is the first and acutely felt result of neglecting the project closure processes. An unfinished job or an unfinished project listed in the company’s system does not look good. More importantly, it lowers the credibility of the contractors, even if the client is satisfied with the results of the project. This can cause disagreements concerning future projects or less favorable terms of cooperation.
Duplication of work
Lack of proper documentation of the completed project goal means that other members of the organization will not learn about it. In other words, they won’t know the solutions developed in our project. And they may start implementing a very similar project sometime from now, instead of building on what they already have.
The Project Manager’s tasks performed in the project closure phase include creating documentation describing the expected benefits of the project. These may include, commercial applications as well as internal or customer implementations.
Without completing this formality, even a very successful project result can become “orphaned” (the orphan product). This can happen if it is not properly communicated to the specialists involved in customer outreach, sales and marketing. As a result, it simply will not appear on the market despite all chances of success.
Completion of a project carried out for a client involves the finalization of the contract, during which all necessary documents must be prepared and signed on time. Therefore, unfinished processes involve a real risk of formal deficiencies that are costly for the company.
It is for these reasons that it is advisable to use the final stage of the project to finish all the things. So that you can boast about the activities that have been buttoned up to the last button.
How to close a project well
Good project completion should include three areas:
- Technical completion of the project – to make sure that the goal of the project was achieved and all tasks completed,
- Learning – to take stock of what was done well and reflect on what went wrong, both in tasks performed and project management,
- Cooperation and motivation – to recognize the contribution of each team member to the work done and to celebrate the success of the project.
List of tasks when closing the project
To start celebrating success as smoothly as possible, it is best to create a list of final tasks and plan its implementation according to the chosen methodology. Although each project has its specifics, the following tasks should be on the list:
- Ensure that the project outcome meets the strategically most important, and preferably all, criteria listed in the project document.
- Check whether the project result exhausts the scope of implementation.
- Prepare project documentation and make it available to all stakeholders.
- Verify if all users of the project result can apply it and have access to the documentation.
- Review contracts with clients and team members to see that all requirements are met.
- Ensure that you have documentation of acceptance of all results by the client or other authorized stakeholders.
- Hold a meeting or meetings to finalize contracts.
- Prepare a document with feedback for the future on project management.
- Together with the team, prepare a document on the rules of cooperation in the team and the problems to solve before starting the next project.
- Archive all project materials.
- Hold a meeting to end the project.
Each task on the above list needs refining according to the requirements of our project and stakeholders. However, to successfully go through the steps to close the project, it is good to stick to the general list and amend it with every project.
A completed project requires a formal conclusion, but also lessons learned and time to celebrate success with the team. Making sure that the goal as well as objectives have been met and that the client is satisfied with the results are the most important steps a Project Manager must take. However, it is not worth neglecting to prepare accessible documentation and make it available to the right people. It is the latter that can determine the future fate of our project – even if everything seems clear now.
The most important questions
Is a post-mortem meeting mandatory in the project completion phase?
During a post-mortem meeting, team members share their reflections on project implementation and give each other feedback. It is not necessary to organize such a meeting, but it can greatly improve both relations within the team and its effectiveness during the implementation of future projects.
Getting started with project management:
- What is a project?
- What is project management?
- How to manage projects?
- Project management methods
- Types of projects
- 4 examples of projects
- Prioritization of projects
- Areas of project activity
- Definition of success in project management
- Why use project management software?
- How to choose the best project management software?
- Overview of project management software
- Project life cycle
- What is the project vision for?
- Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
- Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
- The domain of planning in project management
- What is a project schedule and what is it for?
- How to use milestones in a project?
- Project execution
- How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
- Importance of project closure
- Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
- 4P of management: project, product, program and portfolio
- Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
- Most useful project manager skills
- How to become a project manager?
- 5 books every project manager should read
- How to set up a project team?
- Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
- How to lead a team during hybrid work?