How do you ensure project closure?

Insights | 11 May 2016

Projects by definition, no matter whether you are applying waterfall or agile or even hybrid approaches, need to have an end, don’t they?

“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, Project Management Institute (PMI)®

“A project is a temporary organisation that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business case.”


Ever feel like some projects never seem to end? That the ‘we just need to do this’ keeps happening and the goal posts keep moving? Wished you had changed your mobile number so that people from that project you thought finished 6 months ago don’t keep ringing you?

Whatever type of project, regardless of the project management approach being applied, set expectations for the project, including the need for project closure. This applies whether the project goes to its natural end or premature termination if it is deemed no longer viable.

7 tips for project closure

  1. Clear conclusion. We (the project team, business, users, suppliers and other stakeholders) all need to have a clear understanding that the project has been completed. Contrast that to the ‘finger pointing’ when no one is really sure who is accountable anymore. Is there final signoff? Final customer acceptance? Don’t let it just drift into BAU…
  2. Resource Release. People and other resources need to be released. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? People need to be aware that their time is no longer to be charged to the project – no further costs should be incurred.
  3. Follow on actions. Ever come to the end of a project and you have that issue or risk that’s not a ‘showstopper’, but what do you do with it? Sweep it under the carpet? This is where having a summary of follow on action recommendations including an owner for each action is vital. Such information may be useful for operations/support or even for a future project.
  4. Lessons. Lessons should have been reviewed throughout the project. It is not about suddenly inventing them at the end of the project. Ensure all key learnings are passed on to the appropriate people (for example, Centre of Excellence) and remember to look at both sides – what went well and what could be improved upon in the future.
  5. Methodology review. Yes, I like to distinguish this from lessons as it focuses us on project management and delivery methods. For example, was it the first time you applied agile principles? How well did this work with the project management team as well as the delivery team? Alternatively, maybe you implemented some recommendations from an assurance/health check or even maturity assessment.
  6. Achievements to date. What was the project’s original intent? What have we achieved to date? In some projects, products may already be in operational use and benefits may already be accrued. Celebrate!
  7. Future benefits. Ensure that benefits still to be realised AFTER project closure are adequately planned for. Who will be accountable for the expected benefits? How and when will they be measured? What resources will be involved in benefit realisation and measurement? Projects exist to provide benefits to the customer, users and business – let’s make sure we deliver.

    Speak to us to find out how we can help on your next project. 

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