Remember These Five Items When Closing Your Project

A project life cycle incorporates everything from the planning phases to the closing activities that complete the work. Projects are temporary, meaning they have specific end dates slated for completion, whether you're developing a software program, customizing a product for a client or developing a new product. Project closure activities ensure the product you created meets project requirements. The project closure period also allows you to review the successes and shortcomings for future reference.

Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Remember These Five Items When Closing Your Project":

Just as it is important to formally kick off a project, it is also important to successfully close the project. The value of having a planned project termination is in leveraging all of the information and experience gathered throughout the project. This is true whether the project was a success or not.

When the project schedule is created, think about the activities that need to be performed to gracefully close the project. These activities include:

  1. Hold end-of-project review meeting. A meeting should be held with the project team, sponsor and appropriate stakeholders to formally conclude the project. This meeting will include a recap of the project, documenting things that went right and things that went wrong, strengths and weaknesses of the project and project management processes, and the remaining steps required to terminate the project. If your organization has a way to publish or leverage these key learnings, they should be sent to the appropriate group.
  2. Declare success or failure. Sometimes it is obvious the project was completely successful and in other cases the project is a total failure. However, in many cases, there are mixed results. For instance, the major deliverables may have been completed, but the project was over budget. Or, the project team delivered on time and within budget, but the solution only met 80% of the business requirements. The project team should first rate itself on how successful they were, and then take the recommendation to the sponsor for validation.
  3. Transition the solution to operations (if applicable). If the solution will exist outside of the project, it should be transitioned to the appropriate operations organization. The transition includes knowledge transfer to the operations team, completion and turnover of all documentation, turnover of the list of remaining work, etc.
  4. Turn over project files (if applicable). Determine which project and project management materials accumulated during the project should be turned over to the operations team. Some of the project material may be deleted or destroyed, backed-up, archived, etc. Those files and documents needed by the operations organization should be turned over to them to store in the appropriate long-term library or folders.
  5. Reassign the remaining project team. Any remaining team members should be reassigned when all the termination activities are completed. For some people, this may mean completely new projects. For contract people, it may mean the end of their assignments. For part-timers, it may mean a return to their other full-time role. Some team members may transition into the support organization to continue working on this same solution.

It is the responsibility of the project manager to build project closure activities into the project schedule. These should be seen as vital parts of the project, not an afterthought as the team is getting disbanded. The project is not considered complete until the closure activities are performed.

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