Project closure is the last phase of the project management process. Upon the end of implementation phase, preliminary acceptance of the project result is accomplished; yet minor items may still be open, summarized on a list of open points, LOP (sometimes also referred to as list of open items).
Still following the basic project control cycle, we continue applying all the tools of implementation phase in this last phase, until the LOP can be officially closed.
Our major activities in order to close the project phase are:
Since this list could serve as backbone of a project closeout checklist, as we offer it in sub-section Free Checklists, let us highlight some of these points here, some others in sub-section Project Management Closeout.
If the critical chain method was used, we need to evaluate if it had the desired results in terms of avoiding delays or cost overruns. For that, we can use the same checklists.
In the section Project Implementation, we suggest to enter discussion and settlement of claims as early as possible in order to take pressure off the project closure phase. Where this is not possible we have to do it now. If the contract contains methods of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) we follow their natural escalation. In case we have to pursue arbitration or court procedures we can try to cut these open issues from the remainder of the project in order to enable a formal completion of the project. Otherwise the project cannot formally be concluded until the open claims are settled by arbitration or court decision. Please refer to sub-sections Contract Management, Project Claim Management and Project Claim Analysis.
The feedback of team members, the control board, the customer, or other stakeholders has different facets.
One area of interest is how we worked together: soft facts. This will cover aspects of team work and group dynamics of the core project management team, and aspects of leadership behavior of the project manager or the control board members. Leading questions for these discussions could be (but are not limited to):
The other area of interest refers to the satisfaction of main stakeholders with the project results and the project management processes: hard facts.
For feedback about the soft and hard facts, we can conduct interviews or formalized feedback (e.g. questionnaires), in form of customer satisfaction and team satisfaction surveys. Then, we use the survey results as additional source for our lessons learned in project closure. Just make sure that you keep all personal feedback strictly confidential, only within the group of involved people, or make it anonymous.
Lessons learned workshops have two-fold benefits:
The first point seems to be clear. For the second one let us look at the following example.
We are a company that provides photo-voltaic (PV) power stations on a turn-key basis in Southern European countries. Currently, we have 7 different projects under contract of which 4 are in project closure phase. Over the last 10 years we successfully completed 16 similar projects in that same geographical area. For another 8 projects of that kind, we are in planning phase.
Each PV power station includes one or more arrays of 10s or 100s of PV panels which we manufacture in our own factory in an Asian country. Thus, all our projects contain a work package like "deliver X number of PV panels of type Y". Usually, these work packages are on the critical paths and correspond to significant payment milestones of those projects, sub-divided into different delivery batches.
For each project we apply risk management as described on this web site. In all our risk analysis workshops, we find the risk of "missed payment milestone because of a delayed delivery batch of PV panels by 30 days". For new projects, our experts continuously face the problem of realistically estimating the probability that e.g. such a delay of 30 days could occur.
Thanks to the knowledge management process in our company, we have a project management information system in place which contains a risk data base that is fed by lessons learned of already completed projects (16 + 4). Hence, our experts can apply a little bit of mathematical statistics to that information stored in our risk data base and combine the results with current data of our manufacturing capacity, raw material supply, and their own expert opinion.
This story illustrates how the company as a whole could benefit from lessons learned workshops, if the idea of a project management information system is pro-actively supported.
The official declaration "project goals successfully achieved, final acceptance issued" concludes the project closure phase and the project.
In case you would like to use practical and useful packages of tools, templates and checklists, here you can get them. They save you a lot of time, are easy to use and easy to change:
All four PM Phases in one Set