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:
• resolve all those open points of the LOP
• support settlement of open claims
• prepare the final presentation of the project results
• get final acceptance of the project results
• handover the project results to the customer and/or user, combined with an official celebration
• close all project controlling tools
• complete and close all reports or documents
• generate final project reports for your own organization, the customer, other stakeholders
• call for feedback of team members, your control board, the customer, and other stakeholders
• carry out a lessons learned workshop, including a final risk assessment
• handover to the team that takes care of the warranty period or further customer support
• release resources and support them to find new assignments
• close all project accounts and carry out the final project calculation
Settlement of claims
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):
• How did our team develop over time?
• How did we deal with complex situations and problems?
• How did we deal with crisis situations?
• How did we deal with conflict?
• How did we manage difficult negotiations?
• How successful and effective was the facilitation of our meetings?
• How successful was our coaching or mentoring of team members and colleagues?
• How successful was our virtual team work?
• How did we handle the aspects of cross-cultural communication?
The other area of interest refers to the satisfaction of main stakeholders with the project results and the project management processes: hard facts.
• We can ask the customer / end user of the project result for their satisfaction.
• We can ask the control board members for their satisfaction.
• We can ask our core team members including the sub-project managers and the project manager in order to obtain their levels of satisfaction.
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 workshop
Lessons learned workshops have two-fold benefits:
1. They support their participants’ professional and personal career development in terms of project management, leadership, team work, knowledge, skills, and experience.
2. They improve the knowledge base of the organizations the participants belong to, in the area of project management.
The official declaration “project goals successfully achieved, final acceptance issued” concludes the project closure phase and the project.