1) Communicate effectively
Communication is a crucial part of both managing projects and the close-out process itself. The success of your close-out depends to a great extent on how well you communicate. Whenever you’re about to close a project, make sure to send a written note (whether it’s an email, a memo, or a letter) to:
- Project stakeholders, informing them that the project would be officially closed
- Vendors and suppliers, announcing the end date of the project so they can send their bills
- Managers of other departments you may have borrowed team members from to inform them of the date they will be released
- Finance and accounting departments, to ensure the books of accounts for the project are promptly closed
2) Track project deliverablesAn effective closure means that you have completed all the deliverables to the satisfaction of the project’s sponsor. An essential part of this is to track all these deliverables, and one of the best ways to do that is to create a checklist. You could even hand over some copies of this checklist to the stakeholders so they can verify this too.
If you need some more help with defining and managing project deliverables, Bright Hub PM has a more detailed guide.
3) Release project resourcesAt the end of a project, more often than not, you will have resources left unused. This could include excess raw materials that weren’t used or any other equipment that were hired. You may have hired some members from another department or from externally.
When you’re about to close a project, it is your responsibility to release these resources. Essentially, this means that you must return the hired equipment, claim refunds (if any), and manage the unused materials. You could either return these to the vendor for a refund, sell them off yourself or transfer them to another department or project.
Always make sure that the additional hires have been paid and released from employment or transferred back to their department.
4) Reward team membersAs your project comes to a close, always make sure to acknowledge, recognise and appreciate the contribution of your team members. You can do this in several different ways. You could:
- Appreciate the contribution of each and every team member recognising their intent
- Recognise the team members who made some outstanding contributions to the project
- Reward team members for their contributions as suitable
- Organise a project success party
Mind Tools has a great guide on when and how to say thank you, and some ideas on how you can reward your team.
5) Create a close-out report
Reporting the project closure may not sound like the most exciting part of a project, but it is crucial, and here’s why:
- A close-out report serves as a crucial resource for future projects.
- The stakeholders get a formal assurance that the project has been completed.
- You have a written confirmation of the project closure duly signed by important stakeholders as a confirmation that they are aware of the project’s closure.
- It comes in handy during times of disputes.
A detailed close-out report should contain details about the process used during the project, the mistakes, the lessons learned, and how successful the project was in achieving the initial goals. Your final report could also contain the following details.
- The structure of the project
- Various project management techniques used during the course of the project
- A list of all team members who worked on the project and their respective roles and extent of involvement in the project
- Important milestones of the project
- Important lessons learned through the course of the project
- Constraints and obstacles the project team had to face
- Measures taken to bring the project back on course
- Processes used to track activity completion
- Performance of the project in relation to the project planning schedule
- Your recommendations for future projects