Closing Your Project the Right Way
When wrapping up your project, it’s important to make sure you handle every aspect of the handoff and archiving process to make sure that the client gets everything they need, while you, as a project manager, are able to use some sort of structure to capture lessons learned from the project that will help you further refine the next.
For a successful project closure, be sure to run through these specific elements:
Confirming work completed meets client requirements
It’s important, once the work is completed, to revisit the project and make sure it is completed according to the client’s stated requirements in the contract. Go over all aspects of the project and make sure you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”.
Complete any outstanding payments
If you have outstanding payments with partners or suppliers, now is the time to make sure those payments are made and the costs accounted for - especially if they have to be rolled into any outstanding payments the client must cover before receiving the final project deliverables.
Gain formal acceptance from the client
Once the product is completed, it should be presented to the client who must then “sign off” on their approval of the finished product. This may be a written document or an email, but it should state that the project has been completed and that they accept the final outputs.
Complete performance reports
The final performance of the project needs to be calculated and recorded. Include final accounting for items such as cost performance, schedule performance, quality performance, etc. These will help determine the overall costs of the project (ie: if it exceeded, met or came under the planned budget).
All collected documents related to the project, including final versions of the project management plans and all other necessary documentation needs to be documented and archived in the company records so that it’s necessary to look up details later it’s easy and available.
Review lessons learned
This may be one of the most vital steps of the project closure (aside, of course, from getting paid!). It’s here you’ll be able to take in the full scope of the project and learn valuable lessons that can be implemented next time, such as:
Where budgeting matched or exceeded expectations
How well third-party vendors or freelancers fit in with the dynamics of the company/team
How well communication software was adopted by the team
If task management techniques were helpful in keeping the project on track
Where cost saving could be achieved in future projects
Where the project hit roadblocks and how they could have/can be avoided
Be sure to record these thoughts or findings in an easy to access place so other teams or management can also learn from your project.
Ready to make the most of your next project? Here's how to plan it better.
Handoff the completed project
Once the project is completed, it can easily be handed off to the client. The handover may require a predetermined period of assistance (especially for apps or other tech that may require staff training).
Release the necessary resources
After the project is fully completed and the assets have been handed off to the client, be sure to release the final report and/or go over all documentation, how it was recorded and what takeaways you have to management to finally close off the project.
By being thorough in your project closure, you will ensure your client is pleased with the final results (and their acceptance of it is recorded) and the necessary training is accomplished (on the client-side). Most importantly, you’ll have takeaways you can quickly apply to your next project that is recorded in such a way they will continue to benefit your team and the company as a whole.