Is your project done? Great! Did you remember these 7 things at your project close? Before you move on to the next strategic delivery project, take a moment to make sure this current piece of work is properly closed down.
A structured project closure process makes it easier for you to transition the team on to their new work, it improves customer satisfaction as they receive a full handover, and you gain the organizational knowledge benefit of lessons learned and knowledge transfer.
Here are 7 activities that should take place at project close. Use this project close checklist to make sure your team is finishing the work effectively.
1. Gain customer approval
The first thing to do before closing a project is check that it is OK to close. To do that, you need the customer’s approval.
The process is the same whether the customer is internal or external. They should review the output and confirm that they are happy that the project is formally closed down. This process can take a little back and forth discussion, especially if the project scope has changed during the work and new activities were added in (or tasks were taken out).
Get the approval in writing and that will kick off your project closure process. Keep their approval somewhere safe with the rest of the important project documents! You might need to reference it again in the future.
2. Carry out knowledge transfer
The project team can only move away from the project when the operational team and customer have received a full handover. This normally includes making sure they have had training on the new product or process delivered, or are comfortable in the new environment. There might be a handover to the IT support team as well, so they know how to deal with any future phone calls that reference the change you delivered.
Knowledge transfer is really important for whatever change you are going through, because you don’t want the team to be reliant on the project team, consultants or suppliers longer than they have to be. The faster they can operate independently, the faster your project resources can move on to the next priority project.
3. Complete lessons learned
Project management lessons learned is a tried-and-tested approach to making sure improvements that were uncovered as part of the project are passed on to others so they can be embedded in the processes. In other words, capturing lessons learned is a way of continuous process improvement.
It’s so important to pass on what you have learned during a project so future projects benefit from that. You are building organizational knowledge and improving the project delivering capability across the firm.
This is all part of knowledge transfer, and includes technical lessons learned as well as business and process lessons. Let’s say the team did something great within Deltek Cobra: that knowledge transfer can help future project teams save time and use the same features more easily.
The PMO can be the guardian of all project lessons learned. Create a repository so that project managers can easily find relevant learnings before they begin future projects.
4. Close the budget
Did you spend all your project budget? Another task to complete at the end of a project is to make sure the budget is closed down. Then you don’t have money tied up in a defunct cost center when it could be put to use to help future projects get started.
Talk to the finance team about closing down the budget. Make sure any contracts are handed over to the procurement department. Pay any outstanding invoices and make sure any open purchase orders are either closed or passed to someone who can handle them when the work is finally invoiced. You might also have to produce a final cost report to include in the project closure paperwork to the customer.
5. Archive your project records
Projects create a lot of records, and much of that information is useful for future projects. You might do something similar next year, or work with that customer again in a few months. The information captured during this project will help with estimating, customer relationships, and more. It gives you shortcuts – but in order to use them, you have to be able to find them again.
Project records should be archived according to your company’s standards. Typically, that means closing down the project in your enterprise project management tools, but not deleting the records. Then if another project wants to compare your forecasted spend to actual spend as they are doing something similar, they can easily access the records.
The PMO should set the standards for what is expected of project managers. They provide the link between organizational document management standards and what that means for project teams. You could create a simple checklist showing what documents, files or other records need to be archived, where they should go and how to do it.
6. Redeploy the team
You can’t afford to have people sitting around waiting for their next project. Make sure you can quickly redeploy the team – but not so quickly that they don’t have time to finish their project work and complete their handovers.
Good resource planning will help you identify when each team member is going to be available to take on new tasks. The PMO plays a key role in transitioning individuals to their next project assignment.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the achievement of completing this project! You’ve finished the work, and that’s something to be proud of.
Team project celebrations don’t have to be expensive. It’s common for the team to go out for a meal or for there to be an internal gathering with cake (often with a picture of the product or brand on top). But handwritten notes from the senior sponsor are also a good way of showing the team that their efforts have been noticed and are appreciated. Plus, you can keep a note for your personnel file, and you can’t keep a slice of cake!