What is Project Closure?
Project closure is one of the more overlooked aspects of project management, but project managers highly value its benefits and importance to the project and future projects like it.
A good project closure report should be the basis for a project plan for a similar future project. The Project Closure report compares between the plan at the beginning and the end.
This output is then presented to the key stakeholders, the client, and vendors, and to the team members. This report is usually quite emotional, especially on a long term project. It is the final output of the team, and they know that once it’s completed, the project is finally over.
Project Completion Criteria
For the project to be officially closed, the following basic criteria must be met –
- The major milestones have been completed.
- The above have met their quality specifications.
- The key stakeholders (internal and external, i.e. the client) have accepted the closure and have signed off on it.
- The project has been completed on time and on a budget (certain flexibility is acceptable here of course).
This criterion above can change from project to project, and must be defined upon its official kick off.
How to Create Project Closure Report ?
The most important steps of the Project closure report are –
Actual vs. planned
The first step is to compare the actual timeline, scope, budget, quality and resource use to the planned ones at the beginning (or at the last scope change). This step will give a good sense of how successful the project was (the more successful, the closer the actual will be to the planned). This step is done by the PMO and approved by the PM / COO.
Interviews of the major team members
Once step #1 is completed, they should be presented to the team leads and managers to get their input, remarks, and lessons learned. Also, their contributions should be formally recorded and recognized, for future evaluation and compensation.
The client needs to formally sign off on the project, herby confirming that the company has met all of its obligations as stated in the SOW / contract.
A checklist with the major tasks of a closure report needs to be put together and approved. There a host of Project Management Checklists which can be used for this task.
The CFO must approve that all of the expenditure is accounted for and that all of the PO’s (Purchase Orders) have been fulfilled. In some cases an audit is required, to present to the customer that all of their payments were received.
Identifying the records which need to be kept after the project has been completed is a significant step. Depending on the clients’ field of business and country, there are several rules & regulations which must be adhered to regarding record keeping. Any and all legally signed documents, PO’s, payments received and authorized and any other documents which the legal counsel of the company specifies must be kept and recorded. This can also help with planning a new project in a similar field.
Once the above steps are completed and signed off by the PM and stakeholders, It must be communicated to all involved that work on the project must discontinue unless told otherwise.
Once retaining records is done, all payments involved in the project need to be discontinued.
If a maintenance project is signed (or included in the original contract), then the final scope of the project closure report will be the beginning point of the maintenance project.
Project Closure Best Practices
The following points should be considrerd when putting together a project closure report –
Closing by Someone who not directly involved
Closing a report might be an emotional task for team members who have been involved in the project from the kick off, and have come to see the project as their “baby”.
Keeping this in mind, it may be a good idea to bring in a team of people who weren’t directly involved in the project, or may have recently joined. This will ensure objectivity and that this task is seen as just another one in the projects’ lifecycle.
Consider Closure Report as a Mini-Project
Since this is the last major work of the project, and is usually done after the final deliverable has been signed off by the client, it may be not taken seriously by all of the team members.
Perceiving the closure report as a mini-project with milestones, deadlines and a work plan can ensure that the report will be completed in a timely manner.
Plan in Advance
Like any other tasks, planning this one well in advance will improve its final outcome.
While debriefing the team members, it is a good idea for their immediate supervisor to review their work on the project and give them any constructive criticism.
Most companies do this exercise on a yearly / bi-yearly basis, but at the closing a project is a much better time to review and analyse the team members’ contributions and personal KPI’s.
Goal vs Achievement
The above debriefing (or interviews) should be done in a structured manner, with the projects’ goals clearly listed and weather the team member helped in its achievement.
Usually the PMO writes the report, and the PM or COO approves it.