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Last updated on 2/11/21

Close a Project

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Imagine if you thought a project was closed, disassembled the team, moved on to the next project, and then suddenly discovered that some key stakeholders were not satisfied and wanted extra work to be done! This would be a catastrophe! :waw:

When projects end, resources and team members are reallocated. However, it is important that they are not shifted before the project is truly over. The project manager makes sure that a project is not declared completed unless there is a clear consensus among all stakeholders as to what represents project success and how it can be measured.

Only when all of the necessary tasks are completed can you be sure that closing a project is appropriate. This is why projects tend to have a formal closure step and it is a step that is vital to get right.

Normally the project manager asks the key decision-makers, as well as 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.

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Projects have a fixed start and end date. Once the work on the project is complete, the deliverables need to be handed over to the customer.

Any information relating to passwords, system access, or any 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 have been successfully handed over.

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In order to learn from any lessons and not repeat mistakes in the future, it is a good idea to reflect on what was learned during the course of the project. These lessons will be valuable when embarking on future projects.

In order to generate a list of lessons learned, the project manager can:

  • Conduct a survey among team members.

  • Keep a diary of lessons learned during the project (this is often called a Lessons Log). 

  • Review data on actual time spent on tasks and compare to estimates.

  • Review data on actual money spent and compare to original budget.

  • Conduct a post-mortem in-person with the project team where everyone discusses what worked well and what did not work so well.

  • Review any change requests and how they were handled. 

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This is a report on the overall performance of the project. It is an important document for senior stakeholders who may not have kept a close track of the project 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 in relation to the baseline expectations that were set at the beginning of the project.

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

  • In a way that met customer expectations

As well as these factors, the project manager will reference the original business case. Did this 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 and will thank the team members and acknowledge their individual efforts.

Summary

  • Closing a project is important because this ensures:

    • No tasks are outstanding.

    • Formal acceptance by the customer.

    • Lessons that can be learned are documented.

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

    • Achievements of team members can be recognized.

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

    • Deliverables are handed-over to the client.

    • A lessons learned document is created.

    • An end-of-project document is written.

Additional Resources

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement