We can support project management closeout or project closure by using checklists or templates, just as in any other phase. In sub-section Free Checklists, you find such a checklist. Here, we would like to emphasize some issues of the last phase of a project.
Sometimes, the main stakeholders, our customer, will schedule an official, public event in order to celebrate completion of a project. Examples may be official opening ceremonies for a new subway line, factory, power plant, or the launch of a brand new product. In all of these cases, our customer needs our support for preparing those events. It is best practice to engage professional event management services, hold or support press conferences, and sometimes even manage or support TV coverage.
Activities like these, we usually do not have on our initial agenda, i.e. in our work breakdown structure (WBS). Try to discuss these things with your customer early enough, and evaluate carefully if would charge your customer for that. Most of these events are a very good investment into the image of your own organization.
Another issue of project management closeout we would like to emphasize is contract closure. It is the last step of the contract management process, and just as important as project closure. Usually, it boils down to obtaining the last signatures under a couple of well defined documents that entitle your organization for final payment. In most large projects, a customer usually has separate contractual agreements in place that govern the financing of the project.
Try to make sure that you at least know, if not proactively support, what the customer has to document, proof, or deliver to their financing partners.
As early as in definition phase, you may have started to document all your project management activities in form of a project management handbook. Since this is the ultimate documentation of your project, like a comprehensive project history, make sure that you collect all necessary contributions of all involved team members before they leave your project organization.
Should your organization actively maintain a project management information system, finalize all your project's inputs into that system, as integral part of project management closeout. It is best practice to have lessons learned workshops that constitute a good basis for your organization's knowledge management and organizational learning in general.
However, from the abstract organization's point of view, we need to document all learning in a formal way until we can call it organizational learning. So, whatever information system your organization has in place, it needs your and your team's input.
Project management closeout, especially for projects we had to terminate prematurely for serious reasons, is very challenging in terms of new assignments for all team members. As project manager, you want to make sure that all members stay on board until the last issues of your project are resolved. You might be tempted to retain certain team members or experts as long as possible. On the other hand, your team members will highly appreciate your support in finding new assignments for them.
Try to balance these conflicting interests. The sooner you start discussing this problem with your team openly, the easier it will be to set up a plan, find the necessary assistance of other parts of your organization, and define the best and mutually agreed dates for releasing your colleagues from their project assignment.
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