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Project Closure

Whether because they reached their planned end, or whether they have been closed prematurely, projects are always temporary in nature and for this reason the PM must make sure a controlled and structured closure takes place before the Project Board is sent the request to officially declare the project closed. Project closure activities cover a range of tasks, both from a management and a delivery point of view.

As part of the final delivery stage the closing activities will need to be planned within the last stage’s plan. Any resourcing requirement for this last stage should be sought at the time of requesting authorisation for the final delivery stage (within the Stage Definition and Planning process).

The core objective of this process is to provide a fixed and controlled point where:

  • Products are handed-over to the appropriate interested parties, customer acceptance is confirmed and achievement of the Project objectives and any already achieved benefits can be confirmed.
  • The Project’s performance is assessed and Project Closure can be requested

Within the PM4SD approach model the closing activities must also ensure that the Sustainability objectives have been met and that actions and responsibilities are in place to continuously monitor the post-project impact throughout the product’s life span.

This means making sure that together with the Benefit Review Plan, arrangements have been made to perform post project activities such as those described in the Corporate or Programme’s Benefit Realisation plan and that any policies governing the Sustainability aspects of the projects are in place and are being monitored/maintained by the appropriate bodies.

Post-project actions aimed at confirming and achieving long term strategic benefits and sustainability are part of the higher corporate/programme blue print and will be approached in the “Benefits” section.

Prepare Project Closure and Hand-Over Products

Before a project can be closed the PM must make sure the objectives have been met and all expected results have been achieved. At the same time, all the project documentation must be reviewed and updated with the latest data in order to provide a complete assessment of the project performance. At the same time, any actions or recommendation that will be applicable after the project is closed must be identified and the appropriate documentation prepared, while all other project documents are closed and archived for audit purposes. If the closure is a planned one the PM must also prepare for a controlled and formal hand-over of the products to the clients/stakeholders and must ensure that any relevant maintenance and operational agreements are in place. This hand-over to the operational environment must take place before the Project Board can officially declare the Project closed.

In the case of a premature project closure, there might not be any products to be handed-over or the scope of what is being delivered might be significantly different from that originally planned. Nevertheless the PM must ensure that any agreements regarding the transfer of ownership for those products that have been created are adhered to. Together with the hand-over of the project’s product(s) the PM must make sure that plans for the review of the expected benefits are in place and updated with the latest data, as these plans will also be handed over to those responsible for putting the Benefit Realisation plan in place.

The main recommended activities within these sub-process are:

  • Update the Project Plan and any relevant PID documentations with actual data
  • Review the Issue and Risks log for possible threats to the Hand-over
  • Confirm the status of the products prior to the hand-over activity
  • Confirm the products have met the Acceptance Criteria
  • Inform all interested parties the project is being closed
  • Update the Benefit Review plan and Benefits Realisation Plan
  • Confirm Hand-over procedures are in place
  • Seek customer acceptance for the project products

Evaluate the Project and Request Project Closure

The project performance must be assessed to ascertain to what extent the management activities have resulted in a successful (or unsuccessful) outcome. Experiences gained and lessons recorded during the project will provide data for this assessment. For the continuing improvement of the organisation and the benefit of future projects the lessons learned must be suitably recorded, disseminated and made accessible for future use.

One of the simplest ways for the PM to perform an end project assessment is to analyse the project’s actual performance against the planned objectives. By comparing various versions of the PID and plans the PM can provide summary of the performance of the project. This will include an assessment of the metrics used to measure the success of the project. Once this evaluation has been carried out the PM will send all necessary documentation to the Project Board requesting an official closure of the Project.

PM4SD recommends the following activities:

  • Review the original PID and compare it with the most up-to-date version.
  • Prepare the End Project Report and include an assessment of project performance.
  • Archive all the project documentation to allow for future Audits.
  • Create a Lessons Learned Report for inclusion in the End Project report.
  • Notify the Project Management team of project closure
  • Request Formal Closure from the Project Board