5 Simple Steps to Close a Project Successfully

5 Simple Steps to Close a Project Successfully

Project teams tend to focus on delivering projects successfully, but don’t pay that much attention to the process of closing projects. In reality, the Project Closing Process Group is equally (and sometimes very critically) important as the rest of the groups - Initiation, Planning, Executing, and Monitoring and Controlling Process Groups.

When a project is not closed properly, it can lead to incomplete scope, delayed payments, resource waste, as well as legal consequences. It also further affects future contracts and delivery-driven sales.

The Project Closing Process Group has two processes - Close Procurement, and Close Project or Phase.

For any vertical, whether you are a buyer or seller, Close Procurement always takes place before Close Project or Phase.

A project may or may not have the Close Procurement process, but it must have the Close Project or Phase process. Note that for each Close Procurement, you close with your contractors or subcontractors; while for Close Project or Phase, your client accepts the deliverables and closes with you.

If your team understands and follows these five simple steps with appropriate focus, closing a project will be a breeze.

  1. Develop Closing Procedures in advance to help you get a smooth and fast closure.(Focus: Processes)

    Make all the team members aware of the procedures, and train them to perform the procedures effectively.

  2. Complete all Close Procurement processes at the appropriate times. These may be spread over the duration of the project and hence need regular checks. (Focus: Processes)

    Ensure that the team members are performing the processes timely and efficiently. Pay special attention to recording the processes with the required authorization, and archiving them.

  3. Verify scope and confirm completion. Take formal acceptance of the project and all deliverables from your client. (Focus: Deliverables)

    Usually the formal acceptance is a document signed off by the sponsor from the client side. The formal acceptance must include the final performance metrics of the project, including quality, cost, and schedule among others.

  4. Finalize and archive all documents. Update Lessons Learned document with inputs from all the stakeholders. (Focus: Documents)

    Documentation is often a neglected area of project management, though always referred first in case of disputes. The key is recognizing that recording is as important as performing any activity or process. Lessons Learned documentation is a valuable organizational process asset, and must be made available to all the relevant resources so that they benefit from it, without re-inventing the wheel.

  5. Hand off the final product (project or phase), and release all the resources. (Focus: Resources)

    The hand off must include the required documentation of product usage, maintenance, and troubleshooting information. A predetermined period may be required for training, assistance, and knowledge transfer. Release all the resources, internal or external, back to functional managers or to other managers as required.

Well, once you have delivered a project and also successfully closed it, there will be only one activity left – celebrate your success!

This article earlier appeared in PMI Bangalore India Chapter Newsletter, March 2018. Read it here.