Many seem to think that project closure is not an important process in project management, but that’s not true. Closing a project is as important as other processes in Project Management. Until and unless your project has been closed with the planned procedures, it officially provides no value to the organization.
You might have delivered the deliverables, but this does not mean your project is complete. Ignoring this process results in 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.
What Is Project Closure?
The last step of a project is called project closure. Project managers use this term to indicate that a customer, stakeholder, or client has approved project deliverables for use. There must be a plan in place for continuing maintenance of the project or product.
To ensure a successful conclusion to any endeavor, a thorough assessment of the project will be conducted by its management. During this phase, the management team will participate by providing observations and comments that will be compiled in a document titled "lessons learned." This serves as a blueprint for future endeavors.
Closing a project involves more than simply clearing off all the paperwork, completing any vendor contracts, and freeing the team to work on new projects. A project's end-of-project review ensures that all of the project's goals have been completed and that any remaining concerns, such as risk, have been resolved.
What Are the Different Types of Project Closure?
There are several reasons why a project manager can decide to call it a day on a project. There are a variety of reasons why a project manager would decide to end a project. Among them are meeting a project's deadline and finishing it ahead of schedule. Projects may also be discontinued, they can continue indefinitely, or they can collapse totally.
Why Is Project Closure Important?
The culture of a team and an organization may be defined by how well a project is completed. Customers are happier and more satisfied when projects are completed on time and on budget.
A project's end results in a significant amount of learning. Future ventures will be better off as a result of this procedure. In the event that you don't correctly conclude a project, the customer will still have access to the deliverables, but you won't be able to analyze what worked and what didn't. A review of your work and learning is crucial. For each team member or company as a whole, figure out how that new knowledge may assist the group.
The process of project closure is critical since it enables you to:
Resolve Loose Ends
You've already presented project results to the customer but report internally as well. Make absolutely sure all agreements are finalized, invoiced, and finished. Verify your performance and if you met your deadlines and budgets. Relinquish physical premises, electronic gear, and resources to departments concerned. These technological features of project closure enable you to cleanly conclude the project and easily transition back to your organization's normal rhythms.
Take Stock of Your Learnings:
Openly communicate the lessons you learned over the project's life cycle. Make a point of it. It's a good idea to create a list, timeline, or other visual representation of the project's progression from its inception through its final delivery to the customer. There should be an examination of the project's budget and actual costs as part of this procedure.
Continue with a Strong Sense of Achievement:
Project closure conveys to every group member that the endeavor was worthwhile and that the task is done. Closing a project puts an end to any loose threads and allows you to evaluate the lessons learned. For the project manager, these procedures also give emotional closure.
Archive Project Learning for the Team's and Organization's Benefit:
After the project is complete, the project closure statement must be finalized and archived for future use by all concerned parties. To make a formal presentation to senior management, it's critical that team members be made aware of where the report can be found.
Phases of Closing the Project
If you've worked on a project for a long time, it's time to wrap things up. If you want to get the most out of the experience and make sure you've covered all your bases, then follow these seven steps.
Formal Customer Sign-Off
You have delivered the deliverables (products, services, or results); however, this doesn’t mean your project is over. You need to get a formal sign-off from the customer on the delivered deliverables. If the customer signs off, the project can be declared complete or Project Closure time.
For example, imagine a worst-case scenario. Let’s say the customer receives the deliverables and indicates the work isn’t up to par, and you need to do some rework—that will incur more cost. Another serious problem would be to have to regroup the project team again. Therefore, formal sign-off is essential for closing projects.
Final Product Scope Analysis
You should always analyze your product scope as planned during the 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.
Procurement or Other Contract Closure
If a third-party vendor or any subcontractors have been working on the project, those contracts need to be closed. Once they have produced deliverables, and you have delivered them to your end customer, the contracts should be closed; those contracts have no meaning after the deliverables have been accepted.
Lessons Learned Documentation
Once you’ve received the formal sign-off from your customer, you should work on documenting the lessons learned from this project which can be used as a reference for future projects. Such documentation could be reused; then you won’t need to work on that documentation again and again.
Circumstances for change requests that were 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.
Initiate a Postmortem
Managing a project isn't just about tasks, resources, money, and deadlines; it's an experience that you can always improve upon. When the project is over, it's a good moment to reflect on what you've learned without the temptation and interruptions that could have gotten in the way.
Participate in an open discussion on what worked and what didn't. Insist on being truthful. The catalog you're creating by recording the project's failures and triumphs will serve as a repository for historical information. It's possible to go back and review previous material to see if there are any patterns.
Projects don't exist in a vacuum; they're a part of a larger system, the details of which may change over time, but the underlying principles stay constant. Any project that comes to an end generates a plethora of information.
Do All the Paperwork
There are a lot of documents generated by projects. Stakeholders will need to sign off and approve these papers. The only way to prove that these forms have been completed legally is to get them all signed. Your contracting partners and suppliers, as well as other resources, should all be terminated at this point in time.
All overdue payments must be addressed as part of this process. You want to make absolutely sure that all of your bills, commissions, fees, bonuses, etc., are paid. Calculate each and every expense related to the endeavor.
Release Your Resources
When you've put together the project team, it's time to let them go. As a result, they are free to move on to the next job. Projects benefit from having teams with diverse backgrounds and expertise. This means that the team members you would like to work with are influenced by the type of project you're working on and how unique it is.
This applies to both internal and external resources. For example, you may have signed with a third party for a certain period of time. After it's finished, make sure they're all paid up so they may go. But internal resources persist, so bear in mind that their tenure on the project is finite and that you may be impeding other team's initiatives if you don't release them.
Because you may learn from past initiatives, it's important to have frequent meetings with your team and review the progress you've made. Because of inadequate organization and administration, whatever information you obtain will be gone if you don't really have an archive from which to extract previous documents. Don't throw away all of your hard work in creating thorough project documentation.
Before a project comes to an end, make a backup of all the papers, notes, and information associated with it. Although if you never look at it, it's important to retain a record of your work for the benefit of others in the company. Even your successors might be included in this group. Remembering how something was handled in the past may come in handy at some point in the future. Think of it like stockpiling food for the winter months.
Commemorate Your Success
If it seems ridiculous to you, you are not carrying out your responsibilities. There's nothing crazy about paying your employees for a job successfully done to show your appreciation. In addition to providing closure, which is the purpose of this step of the report, it also develops a sprout that will blossom in coming projects when you collaborate with individuals of the former team.
What Are Project Closure Activities?
Closing off a project means putting the finishing touches on your work while maintaining a professional demeanor. Celebrating successes and devising new strategies are also on the list.
Following the phases, several choices are available for project closure:
- Make sure all loose ends are tied up, and lessons learned are revisited throughout team meetings. As a group, you've been putting in the effort to generate high-quality output. In order to wrap out your project in a straightforward and effective way, you've returned together as a team.
- Organize meetings with team members one-on-one in order to discover areas of growth and development for each member.
- Conduct an audit of all vendor contracts and human resource-related responsibilities to verify that all obligations are met, and everyone is compensated.
- Team meetings should be held to discuss the project's learning arc and the entire learning outcomes that help the organization and future project teams.
- Organize a meeting between the project manager and the project's higher-up to officially conclude the project. During this meeting, individuals on the team may present their individual contributions and skills.
- Provide clear directions on how to communicate back and delegate duties for closing up loose ends to others.
- Invite your employees to a party to celebrate their achievements and thank them for their hard work. In keeping with the values of your company and your coworkers, be sure you have a good time. Each team member, as well as the superiors in the surrounding departments or divisions, should be recognized for their efforts.
- This report should include content from each step of the project, beginning with the project's inception and ending with its conclusion. It's crucial to incorporate team feedback when the project manager is writing this report.
Project Closure Best Practices
All of the pieces of the puzzle must fit together in order for a project to be completed successfully. In this crucial phase of any project, don't be afraid to draw on your finest technical knowledge and human-centered, joyous personality!
Here's a list of excellent practices for project closure:
Interactivity Should Be the Primary Focus
Now is your time to establish an inclusive project environment that brings the best in every team member. Don't forget to acknowledge the value of each individual's contribution to the project's overall success. No matter whether you're working on a project's technical or cognitive stages or its human-centered closures, including every member of the team reinforces their responsibilities and guarantees the project has a purpose from start to end.
Keep Your Eyes Wide Open
Finalizing the project requires professionalism, but not rigidity or just ticking boxes. Ensure that the team is comfortable discussing and contributing to each step of the project's closure. When working on a group project, it's essential to keep the lines of communication open and allow everyone to participate in the manner that they are most comfortable. Remembering why you're doing this is critical, particularly when you're going over what worked and what the team thinks could be improved, especially throughout the learning period. To put it another way, it's not about you. To reinforce and create for the future is the objective.
Make Room for the Best Team Member's Performances
The greatest way to close a project is over a long period of time. Everything may be wrapped up in a week or a few days. Each project's final phase should be separated from the previous one by a period of emotional serenity. Each team member should give new thoughts that are neither hasty nor confusing by doing this step before the meeting. If your team is more productive in the morning, consider scheduling project closing stages on a weekly basis at different times of the day.
Realize the Importance of Inclusiveness
It's important to make sure that remote team members get the same level of attention and participation as those who work in the same place. In addition, you've undoubtedly discovered that each member of the squad has a unique style. By noting how certain members of the team may not be conscious that they start to favor talks or compete for focus, while others may prefer to defer, you may provide a place for everyone as equally as possible.
Purposeful and Well-Defined Communication
Clear communication is essential to ensuring the successful completion of the project and all of its stages. Ensure everyone on the team understands what the final stage is, how it's so essential, and how it will be achieved throughout the course of each phase. Write out a summary of the project closing objectives and the steps you've taken to reach them. Because you've communicated effectively and respectfully throughout the project, you've been able to unite the team and gain their support. To guarantee the greatest potential results for the team, you, and the company, project closing necessitates the same level of care and consideration.
Give Team Members Responsibilities for the Final Steps
Project management does not obligate you to complete all project closing tasks. By their very nature, teams are cooperative. Keep the project's strong collaborative spirit alive during the project's final phases of completion: Assign responsibilities, enlist the help of team members to maintain tabs on the progress of the project, and take a step back by allowing others to encourage the dialogue of the project's end. To the very end, there are various methods to empower your team.
Achieve Organizational Success By Creating a Strong Base
When a project has a terrific crew, the work gets done swiftly and effortlessly. If other teams are having difficulties working together, it may be because of technical issues that are beyond their control. Projects at various stages of development may have both characteristics. You should always remind the team of why you're there and what you've accomplished, and also how project closure may assist, foresee and perhaps avert future problems. The method may assist secure the long-term prosperity of the firm and the happiness of its customers.
Rejoice in the Chance to Recognize and Promote Outstanding Performance
As a leading voice in their own right, a helpful project manager has the ear of every team member's supervisor. Communicate with colleagues and upper management on what you've learned about each member of the team and how their work has influenced the project outcome(s). It's possible that the supervisor suggested that individual for the assignment since they already knew about his or her abilities. The input will be appreciated by proactive managers, who will use it to identify methods to enhance their own abilities. As a result, you've improved the situation for employees, departments, and the company as a whole. To encourage future involvement in high-quality projects, you've also included a morale boost.
Avoid Concentrating on the Project Manager
When a project comes to an end, it's a chance for everyone to shine, not just the project manager. The excellent and the bad should be shared, with the goal of making things better the next time in mind. There should be no doubt that the project manager has the final say, but the greatest project managers do it in an approachable and transparent manner that keeps the emphasis on what has been learned, what methods have been used, and why the information is significant.
Project Closure Checklist
To ensure that your project is correctly closed, use this checklist as a guide.
- In order to have a clear picture of your project's scope, review your project scope document.
- Stakeholders must have approved and signed off on all deliverables before you go further.
- All other project documentation, such as contractual arrangements with suppliers and other contractors, must be authorized by the relevant party.
- Documents must be processed and paid for after they have been officially off on by all parties involved in the project.
- All papers, including final project reports, should be gathered together and archived as historical data for future use.
- For future projects, it's important to record and identify any errors that were made throughout the duration of the project, as well as any comments from stakeholders.
- A changeover support person should be assigned to oversee the project's conclusion when it has been completed.
- Your team and any other project staff, as well as any gear or site rentals, may be released or reassigned.
- Management software is a must-have if you've never used one before since it aids in not just a project's life cycle but also the procedure of ending it.
- Make sure to rejoice with your team at the end of the project. They put in the time and effort and deserve to be recognized and given a break till the next job begins.
As you now know, project closure is an important step in any project. Simplilearn offers multiple project management training courses and learning paths that can help aspiring project managers get the education they need—not only to pass exams like the PMP certification but also real-world knowledge useful for any project management career.
Here's Simplilearn's video on Introduction to PMP® Certification Training. Hope you find it beneficial.