All the effort that goes into completing a project ends only after the project is formally closed. Closing a project is a primary part of any project life cycle, and it’s a PM’s job to officially close a project. Closing any project effectively ensures that the project is formally closed. Hence, after the project deliverables are delivered to the customer and accepted by said customer, project closure processes take place.
When to Close a Project?
There are three primary reasons for closing a project when the project has delivered all its objectives, when the project objectives cannot be met, and when the project objectives are no longer required. Let’s look at each of these instances in detail.
When the project has delivered all its objectives
This is the most common reason for closing a project. When any project begins, certain objectives are set for that project. After all these objectives have been completed, the project should be closed. The Project Owner or the customer is the person who decides whether the project has satisfactorily met all its objectives. This also includes the completion of any modification required within the project.
When the project objectives cannot be met
This means termination of a project and is the second most common reason for project termination. Termination can occur because of complexity within the project or any changes that are not approved by PM/customer.
When the project objectives are no longer required
This means early termination and occurs because the customer no longer requires the project to be accomplished. A common factor that brings about early termination is the often-changing environment and changes in market demand.
Steps for Closing a Project
As a Project manager, you not only need to know how to open and run a project but also how to close it. Each of these processes has certain steps project managers need to follow. Here, we discuss the project closure steps for the successful closing of your project.
A project manager’s job doesn’t end after the deliverables are delivered; a formal customer sign-off is required for closing any project. For instance, the client receives your deliverables and requests changes in certain areas, which means rework for you and your team. Thus, you should wait to receive customer sign-off before declaring a project complete.
The product scope is decided in the planning stages, and before declaring your project complete, ensure that the planned scope is attained. The product scope features should be fully met, and only after this is confirmed should the project be closed.
Note: The features of the product scope should meet 100%. Only after clarifying the same, the project should be considered as complete.
Once the customer sign-off is received and the scope is accomplished, it’s the project manager’s job to hand over all the project resources to the respective departments. This way those resources can be used for other projects. Every organization has a set policy for releasing resources, and you need to follow these policies while handing over the resources.
Say a third-party vendor or contractor is involved in the project, appropriate closure needs to be obtained for these contractors before closing the project. This is done after they have produced deliverables and these deliverables have been delivered to your customer. Closing a contract indicates that the deliverables have been accepted.
Project Data Indexing
After completing the project and getting customer sign-off, ensure that the project files are completed and conveyed to all your stakeholders. These archived files can be a beneficial resource for future projects.
This stage involves calculating and recording the final performance of the project. It includes schedule, budget, quality performance, etc. Record instances where the project could not be completed in the allocated budget and what caused it to go overboard; how the project was received by the customer and stakeholders.
After closing the project and completing any rework required, document all the lessons learned from the project. This document can be used as a best practices guide for similar projects in the future, thus facilitating faster project turn around. This documentation can be reused and need not be created again and again for every project. The document can include change requests and their circumstances, accepted and rejected requests, and schedule & cost control history.
Following the above steps will ensure that a project is effectively closed and no future complications arise due to incomplete records or documents during project closing.