11 Nov It’s a Wrap: The Project Closure Checklist
There is so much time and effort invested into the planning and execution of projects, yet the final process group, and perhaps one of the most important, the closure phase, is often completely disregarded.
What is project closure (in a nutshell)?
Project closure is the final critical phase in the project management lifecycle. During project closure, the team reviews and finalises deliverables, sees to any outstanding payments, facilitates hand-over and transition support activities, and finally, disbands before moving on to other projects.
Why is project closure important?
According to the Project Management Institute, “failure to conduct a thorough project close out process could potentially (a) put the organisation at a considerable amount of risk, (b) prevent the organisation from realising the anticipated benefits from the deliverables of the project, (c) result in significant losses to the organisation, and (d) undermine the project manager and project management team’s credibility”. (PMI, 2015)1
The Project closure process allows Project Managers to:
- Tie up loose ends by seeing to and finalising outstanding payments and paperwork and ensuring all documents are stored and made available to the business for future reference.
- Take stock of lessons learned throughout the project’s lifecycle so that these can be flagged and avoided in future projects.
- Move on to other projects with a clear sense of achievement.
- Publish and distribute a closure report so that this can be accessed by future project teams.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to come back as a team in the future. If that’s the case, your effective project closure helps set the stage for team success the next time you assemble.
A Project Closure Checklist
Distribute the Project Closure Report
This report should include:
- A description of what your project set out to achieve
- The project’s objectives, acceptance criteria and/or success criteria as well as how well you met each of the objectives and success criteria
- An overview of how well the project kept to the original budget and schedule
- Final Project Sponsor and Lead Project Manager signatures
Compile a Handover document
This document should include:
- A decision log of key decisions taken during the span of the project
- Project team meeting minutes
- Email archives
- Contracts including draft versions and the discussion trail around these
- Change logs including potential enhancements to be considered for future projects.
Save all documents you created throughout the project
Ensure all project documents are stored in a location where it can be accessed (like a shared drive or in a SharePoint library)
Compile insights for future projects
This document should include:
- A documented list of lessons learned. This information can be workshopped and compiled in a session with your team to review the project’s learning arc and outcomes.
- An analysis of lessons in which the problems encountered are identified. Explain in detail why these issues arose, and how similar scenarios could be avoided in future.
- Your team’s successes! Highlight these by listing the outcomes.
Save your Lessons Learned document to a dedicated repository which will be of benefit to future project teams.
Celebrate and thank your team
Take the time to commemorate what you’ve accomplished as a team. Even if your project has not been successfully completed, the organisation and project team would have gained valuable learnings.