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Last updated on 1/27/23

Close a Project

Imagine if you thought a project was closed, discharged the team, moved on to the next project, and then suddenly discovered that some key stakeholders were unsatisfied and wanted extra work to be done. That would be a catastrophe!

After a project ends, resources and team members are reallocated. However, they must not be shifted before the project is truly over. It is the project manager’s responsibility to validate all deliverables with the stakeholders and get them approved and accepted.

Only then can the project formally be closed and the team discharged. This is why projects tend to have a formal (and vital) closure step.

The closing phase, fourth from the left, is highlighted in the project management lifecycle.
The closing phase

Typically, the project manager asks the key decision-makers and the project sponsor for permission to close a project by sharing its status. After receiving approval, the project is wound down, and temporary team members are released to work on other projects.

Here are a few important elements to any project closure:

  1. Performing a client handover of all deliverables.

  2. Creating a ”lessons learned” document.

  3. Writing an ”end-of-project” document. 

Client Handover

Projects have a fixed start and end date. Once the work is complete, the accepted (and signed off) deliverables must be given to the client.

Any information regarding passwords, system access, or physical artifacts should be handed over as part of the closing phase.

This phase may require moving a system or website from one environment to another. When a migration like this is performed, the customer must ensure that all deliverables work as required post-migration and should formally sign off that deliverables were received.

Lessons Learned

To learn from past experiences and avoid repeating mistakes, it is a good idea to reflect on what was learned during the project. These lessons learned will be valuable when embarking on future projects.

To generate a list of lessons learned, the project manager can:

  • Keep a lessons learned log throughout the project lifecycle.

  • Organize a project retrospective meeting with the team to discuss what worked well and what did not.

  • Survey team members.

  • Go over the lessons learned from the lessons log and add possible new ones.

  • Review data on actual time spent on tasks compared to estimates.

  • Review data on actual money spent compared to the original budget.

  • Review any change requests and how they were handled. 

End of Project Report

The end-of-project report is a report on the overall performance of the project. It is an essential document for senior stakeholders who may not have kept close track during its execution but need to know the final status of the project.

The project manager will use information from the business case, project charter, and project plan to see how the project performed concerning the baseline expectations set at the beginning.

In particular, the end-of-project report will state whether or not the project was delivered:

  • On-time

  • Within budget

  • With full scope (all expected features)

  • With an expected level of quality

  • Meeting client expectations

In addition to these items, the project manager will reference the original business case. Did the project deliver the outcomes that the business case set out to achieve?

The end-of-project report will declare the project a success or a failure, thank the team members, and acknowledge their individual efforts.

Let’s Recap!

  • Closing a project is important because it ensures:

    • There are no outstanding tasks.

    • The client formally accepted the deliverables.

    • Learned lessons are documented.

    • Team members can be released to work on other projects.

    • Achievements of team members are recognized.

  • The project manager should ensure that the following tasks are part of closing a project:

    • Deliverables are handed over to the client.

    • Retrieve the formal and written acceptance and sign-off of the deliverables.

    • A lesson learned document is created.

    • An end-of-project document is written.         

We are at the end of our project management fundamentals journey, and now it’s time for one final quiz.

Remember, the true achievement will come when you apply these new skills to drive the success of your projects. You are going to be great!

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Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement