My project is done. Now what?
You and your project team have completed the scope of your project. Congratulations! Your project is over, right? Wrong! The project isn’t over until you complete the closing phase, and depending on project size and complexity, and other variables, there can be many tasks associated with closing. Here are 3 critical elements that must be done to effectively close out a project.
# 1 – Get acceptance from your customer/sponsor
The first step in closing out a project is to get acceptance and approval from the customer, or the project sponsor. As the project manager you were charged with delivering the product of the project. You want to make sure that the project scope was reached, the requirements were met, and your customer/sponsor is happy with the result. It doesn’t matter how you get the acceptance – a face-to-face meeting, a demonstration, a report, the key is you want to gain formal, written acceptance of the project’s product and the project completion.
# 2 – Conduct lessons learned
One of the most overlooked elements of any project is to capture lessons learned. Lessons learned provide you and your colleagues an opportunity to see what went well, what didn’t go well, and where potential improvement lies. There are various ways that lessons learned can be captured. Whether it’s a brainstorming session, an interview, or a questionnaire, make sure you cover all aspects of the project. Think of the various phases of the project. For example, revisit the project plan, sponsor support/involvement, the project team and skill set, communication, timeline, technology used on the project, and the project manager.
Capturing lessons learned also allows those on the project to take them to other projects, it allows others to side step potential mistakes on future projects, adopt new practices, and generally, learn. The life of a project provides many opportunities for learnings. Make sure you capture lessons learned during the project close out phase.
# 3 – Celebrate
When the project is complete it’s time to party. It’s very easy to just move on to the next project. However, take the time to celebrate the success of the project. Bring the project team and stakeholders together, and acknowledge the successful completion of the project. Acknowledge team and individual contributions, and make sure others in the organization are aware of the project’s completion and success. The celebration can be big or small, an internal event, or an off-site. The key is to make sure you celebrate.
Don’t overlook the close out phase activities of your project. Ensure you close out the project properly by gaining acceptance from your customer or sponsor, capturing lessons learned, and celebrating the completion of a successful project. Okay, now your project is over.