The closure phase
Closing a project basically refers to ‘formalizing acceptance of a project or phase and bringing to an orderly end’ (Horine, 2009).
In the final steps of a project, as many activities approach completion, you may find that it becomes harder to coordinate them and you risk losing track of some of them. Some activities may even arise that weren’t in the original plan. A solution is to draw a closure mini-plan and create what Heerkens (2005) calls a punch list. It is a hopefully short list of the activities the team has to do to close the project and it helps to keep team members focused during the last critical phases of the project.
Project completion checklist
Another good practice is to create a checklist to remind you of all the required elements to close the project and to be sure all stakeholders’ expectations were met. Heerkens (2005) proposes a possible checklist, but you can modify and expand it to include items specific to your project.
❏ Complete all deliverables
❏ Install and test deliverables
❏ Prepare operating manual
❏ Prepare maintenance manual
❏ Train customer’s personnel
❏ Agree on level of follow-up support
❏ Conduct formal acceptance review with customer
❏ Verify customer satisfaction
❏ Summarise learning; communicate to the organisation
❏ Prepare final technical reports
❏ Evaluate project performance
❏ Conduct final review with management
❏ Prepare project historical files and place in archive
❏ Recognise/reward team performance
❏ Write performance evaluations for project team
❏ Assist in reassignment of project personnel
❏ Dispose of leftover project material
❏ Close down temporary site operations
❏ Submit final invoices
❏ Forward all final payments
❏ Close out project charge codes and work orders
Once the final project deliverables are delivered – the keys to a new house handed over or the company event has finished – and the deliverables have been formally accepted, the responsibility and ownership shifts from the project team to the sponsor (client), or to the end users. At this point, the project can be reviewed so that lessons may be learned from the stakeholders’ experiences.
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