Successful project execution comes from a successful close, in which all phases of the project are reviewed, signed off, and ensured to be completed accurately. Having a clear project closure plan is good practice and indicates professionalism, and the final closure ensures just that.
What is project closure?
The project closeout process is essentially the final stage of the project life cycle, the last phase where you make sure everything is in order, signed and delivered.
This stage is where you evaluate the project as a whole, ensuring that all project deliverables, log reports and documentation have been completed.
Benefits of carrying out a formal project closure
The project closure process, when completed strategically, is incredibly beneficial to your business and prevents things from being lost or left half done.
Completing a project means that not only will you have completed a nearly infinite number of lists, documents, and reports, but you will also have learned a lot as you went.
Any good project management software should have options available for documentation, tracking, and reporting. You should make the most of the project’s tools for future reference.
Without documentation, it would be harder for you to get an idea of the project. You may not remember that decisions were made (and the context surrounding them) and the reason based on data to take them without access to previous documents.
Additionally, having a paper trail is always a good idea when there are many deliverables and parties involved.
Often, just because a project closes, it doesn’t mean that the process established for its long-term success goes away. Especially when implementing a completely new system or method, simply finishing the project to get there is only a first step.
As you continue with implementation, you’ll need a complete, well-documented project closeout to refer to. As you take next steps or improve the system, this established prior knowledge is a necessity.
At the end of a project, many administrative tasks must be performed to ensure that the project is closed successfully. For example, delivering final status reports, requesting a final deposit from clients, approving employee timesheets, and managing resources.
You and your team have worked on a project, so some sense of closure and celebration of that achievement is impactful.
Not only does it solidify that you’re truly finished, it helps with any lingering questions about the status of the project and allows everyone to feel the full, satisfying effects of seeing it through to the end.
It also extends to accountability, as it is a final milestone in celebrating achievements and adhering to a plan.
Confirmation of objectives met
A strategic project closure process also ensures that you haven’t left any loose ends. In projects with many goals and many moving parts, it can be easy to miss something, or simply feel like you’re missing something.
Categorical verification of tasks and official closure confirm that the project objectives have been met. You can also sign all necessary parts that support that claim.
Project Management Closing Verification Tasks
As you move forward with closing your project, there are several necessary steps and procedures to follow.
Double check and get approvals. Don’t take anything for granted. Before you start closing things out, double and triple check that all deliverables and deadlines have been completed and that all necessary approvals have been made from clients, internal team members, suppliers, etc.
Make payments. Finance makes the world go round and ensuring the right parties are paid is a big part of closing the project. You don’t want to be left with extra bills long after project tasks are completed. Verify and pay all commissions, fees, invoices, etc., so you finish the project with a clear idea of its financial impact.
Finish the report. Keeping concrete records of context and results is an essential part of project completion. Your job is not theoretical, so having reports related to operations, results, expenses and expectations is a crucial component.
Organize and file documentation. Do not neglect the importance of ongoing and closing documents. You should have all necessary documentation (digital and otherwise) in place and ready. Data and paper records are king, so things like project plans, contracts, meeting notes, and financial documents will help with data analysis and tracking project information.
Delivery. It’s time to launch the project and officially hand over day-to-day management to the relevant parties.
Have a closing meeting. Finally, you must formalize the closing with a final meeting. This meeting will keep everyone who worked on the project on the same page, make the handover official, and celebrate the achievement itself.
Consequences of a bad project closure
Without complete and accurate completion of your project tracking, you run the risk of unfortunate loose ends turning into bigger problems.
Loss of important information. Without systems and processes for closure, important data and documentation can easily be lost. You never know when you might need to refer back to something, and without methodical closing of the tracking logs, you might be out of luck when you need it most. There are always so many moving parts to a project that record keeping and verification can sometimes be easily overlooked or forgotten without a formal system.
Last minute changes missed or impossible to fulfill. You may have delivered your project or are about to deliver it when something unexpected happens. If a customer requests a last-minute change or notices something that could go wrong, you’ll need to act quickly to fix it. Without backlogged requests or a good understanding of the final stage, this can slow down the process or make it almost impossible to complete.
Team uncertainty. With so many people involved in the project process, the last thing you want is lingering questions or a general feeling of not knowing where a project stands. A formal closing process ensures that everyone knows that the project is officially finished.
Doing things right means you only have to do them once; This is doubly true for project closure. A formal system to ensure a complete and accurate closing will save your business headaches, wasted time, and possibly financial loss.
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