How to close a project?
The Project Manager’s involvement at the closing stage
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.
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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:
Formal customer sign-off
You have delivered the deliverables (products, services, or result); 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.
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 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, the project manager must hand over the resources to their respective departments so that they can be sourced for other projects. Be sure to follow the correct policies of your performing organization while releasing the resources.
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.
Indexing of the project files:
Once the project is over, the deliverables have been handed over to the customer, and the customer signs off, you should compile the project files and convey them to your entire list of key stakeholders. The archived files could be used in the future.
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 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.
Finally, the stage arrives where you need to arrange a celebration involving all your team members and all your stakeholders. They should feel the success they made together as a team. This stage is usually ignored by many project managers—and yet it is excellent to improve the morale for the entire team involved in the project.
Ideally, you should try for milestone parties after the end of long-term projects. If possible, you should involve your end customer and third-party vendors as well, to make it a huge success altogether. A celebration definitely indicates complete, successful closure of a project.
As you now know, project closure is an important step in any project.
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