Categories: project closure
Great! It’s time to wrap up your project neatly. Here are some tips for closing down a project in a smooth and measured way.
1. Update your project schedule
I’ve been guilty of not bothering to mark off the final tasks as complete. Who cares about them anyway? You know they’re done.
Stop right there! You should tidy up your project schedule and make sure everything you completed is marked as complete. If tasks didn’t get finished, and that sometimes happens, you can add them to the closure documentation and the operational team can pick them up in future. This has happened to me multiple times and it’s fine. Just add the outstanding work to the handover paperwork and make sure the receiving team knows what to do. Given timelines for projects, it’s often unrealistic to think that every last activity gets perfectly wrapped up with a bow before it’s time to close the work.
It’s important because someone else might look at those files later and think you didn’t complete work when actually you did.
2. Update the risk log
Have you closed off all your project risks?
Some might need to be passed forward as ongoing risks for the operational team to be aware of. But anything that didn’t happen or where the risk has passed – those ones can get closed off on the log.
Anything that is useful to discuss as part of lessons learned can get carried forward to the next point on the list…
3. Schedule and hold a post-implementation review
Where I work, we call this meeting a PIR or post-implementation review, but you might know it as a post-project review, retrospective or something else.
The point is, you get together after the project and discuss what worked and what didn’t go so well.
You’ve (hopefully) been capturing lessons learned throughout the project – this is an approach I advocate in my book, Customer-Centric Project Management. So doing one last review shouldn’t feel like too much work as it builds on what you have already been doing.
Lessons learned sessions are a regular part of what project managers do, so you probably don’t need me to say more about them.
4. Sort out your project filing
Look through your digital files and make sure they have sensible names and the right stuff is in each one.
Someone else might need to review them later, if they are doing a similar project, so make it easy for your organisation to use the knowledge in your documentation. I think companies are bad at managing organisational knowledge, so don’t make it harder for your colleagues!
I sometimes add a ‘start here’ or ‘readme’ file as a .txt in the main folder navigation menu. The aim is for people to look at that first and I can use the body of the file to explain how the folders are set up.
Whoo hoo! You’ve completed the project. Time to say thanks and celebrate how far you’ve come.
Note: even if you didn’t deliver everything you said you would, even if the project is closed down early, it is still worth celebrating what you achieved. Team morale will be better because you’ve taken the simple, easy step of thanking everyone for their contribution. They’ll go on to future projects feeling better about this one, even if it ended up stalling or being closed down prematurely.
If you did deliver something awesome, as I hope you did, enjoy the feeling of completing a worthwhile project!
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