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Best Practices for Project Closures to Implement
A project's planning takes up so much time and energy that it is sometimes overlooked that the project's conclusion is just as crucial. Even when a project is formally finished, much work is still to be done. Regarding project management, finishing a project requires more than simply completing deliverables. A formal closing phase ensures that all loose ends are tied, paperwork is signed and authorized, contractors are paid, and everyone is on the same page, even if it may appear laborious or unnecessarily administrative.
The project's goals are accomplished, the stakeholders are happy, and the project's legacy is protected via a successful closure and handover procedure. This blog's objective is to highlight the ideal methods for project completion and transfer to operations.
What are Project Closures?
In the project management lifecycle, project closing is the crucial last stage. The team evaluates the deliverables at project closing, comparing and testing their quality to the desired project conclusion. The customer for the project is then given access to the deliverables.
The project lifecycle's ending phase is the last stage of project management. All deliverables have been completed and officially transferred, and all supporting paperwork has been signed off, authorized, and preserved.
7 Steps to Close a Project
1. Conduct Final Tests
Teams working on launching new products or features will find this initial stage the most helpful. Run final tests to ensure your final output is stable and operating as intended before officially concluding work on your project. This is crucial since performance often shifts after launches, particularly if your product was made available to a large consumer base. Foreseeing how a product will perform at scale before it is released is often difficult.
2. Verify the Project's Completion
Next, make sure the project is finished. You cannot just declare a project complete. Before you can properly shut down the project and move on, everyone involved must agree that it is complete.
If you neglect this step, you risk continuing to receive (and be paid for) client modification requests. Obtain formal sign-offs from the project stakeholders and approvals for the project deliverables (i.e., all stakeholders must concur that you delivered on all aspects of the project plan) to certify the project's completion. To prove that the project closure was officially approved, be sure to record this step.
3. Inform Your Staff About the Next Actions
Next, send a letter to your team explaining your wrap-up strategy. Inform them of the next actions, such as how you will handle or transfer ownership of any unfinished project deliverables.
Also, let your team know about any final gatherings with stakeholders or retrospectives they should attend. This is the moment to let your team know whether you want them to participate in a post-mortem so they can get ready.
4. Release Resources
You put together a team for the project, and now it's time to let them go. They may proceed to the next project because of this formal and significant process. Each team is assembled for the variety of knowledge and expertise they offer to a project. Each project will be a little different, reflected in the team recruited to execute it. The project dictates the team members you'll want to work with.
Both internal and external resources have this quality. Since you entered into a contract with them and that contract will have a length, the external ones may be clearer. Make sure they have all been paid in full when everything is done so they can depart and sign off.
5. Conduct a Post-Mortem Meeting
One of the most important phases of the project closing process is the post-mortem or project review. Reviewing the project's accomplishments, setbacks, and difficulties at this point can help you spot areas that can be improved moving ahead.
To collect feedback on how the project went, perform a survey or call a meeting with the project management team. These responses will provide a more thorough view of the project's performance. You may then decide on future possibilities and lessons learned based on the project's performance and feedback. Start your post-mortem by evaluating the project's performance. To put it another way, calculate the project's performance in terms of cost, time, and quality.
6. Archival Documents
Older projects have lessons to teach us, so you meet with your team often during the project and reflect on it afterward. However, whatever information you acquire will be lost due to ineffective administration and organization if you don't have an archive from which to access the earlier data. Don't lose the excellent project documentation you worked so hard to create.
Archive all the files and any comments and data before you call a project done. There is a need to retain a paper trail of the work completed on any project for other individuals in the company, even if you never view it.
7. Celebrate Achievement
You're not doing your job if you think it's absurd. Giving your staff a prize for a job well done is not absurd. The closure is achieved, which is what this project phase is all about, but it also sows a seed that will blossom in future projects in which you collaborate with former team members.
What Happens If a Project Isn’t Closed Properly?
Unfinished projects prevent you from taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from their processes and results. You're more likely to run across the same problems and fewer motivated teams the next time you start a project.
If a project isn't closed off, no lessons are learned, and the team's efforts aren't recognized and appreciated. It's also feasible that your customer won't be pleased with the outcomes, whether the project is for an internal audience or an outside company. This is true no matter how well it may adhere to project requirements or how quickly your deliverables get to your customer.
Whatever your time limits, pressure to move on to the next big thing, or desire to return to your routine workday, ending a project successfully increases the likelihood of future success in your current job and, possibly, for the careers of you and your team members.
As you can see, project closing involves several steps. It could even seem useless or overpowering. However, effective project management calls for formal project completion. When you have inquiries concerning the project, it provides you with an isolated, well-organized location to look at. Additionally, it aids in process optimization over time.
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