How to Close a Project

Project Management Topics

The Project Closure phase is the last phase to close or transition a project. Project Managers should focus on establishing the guidelines for this process during the start of the Project. 

Project Sponsor Acceptance

The Project sponsor must sign off on the deliverables. The acceptance criteria should already be established. If the sponsor was involved throughout the Project, this becomes easier for the Project Manager. During the sponsor acceptance, there should not be any real big surprises. Rather, small minor issues that need to be addressed before final sign off. If major rework is required, the Project Manager should revisit the process of how deliverables are accepted.

Conduct Project Assessment

There is always something that can be learned from any Project. A Project Manager looks for opportunities on how to improve future projects. Ideally, you want to know what went well and what could have been done better.  Feedback should be elicited from the stakeholders and converted to a project document. A checklist at the end the Project will help capture lessons learned and serve as a valuable Organizational Process Asset.

Complete Project History / Archive

A project archive or history should be set up which will work nicely when you conduct the project assessment. This task should not be left to set up at the very end, it will be cumbersome, and items may be forgotten. It is ideal to set this in motion at the beginning of the project and build it to the end. The project team should be provided with guidelines on what how it should be archived. As the project winds down, there should be a final check to ensure the project history is complete and correct.

Celebrate Success

It is easy to forget that when a project is a success to celebrate that success. The project team should feel good about a successful project. The celebration is a post-project activity that solidifies completion, and the stakeholders can move forward.

Importance of Closing Down a Project

It is very tempting for a Project Manager to keep moving to the next project without officially closing the prior Project. However, it is in the Project Manager’s best interest to formally close the Project as well as gain lessons learned that will be useful for their next Project. 

If the project is not closed properly, a client may hold you responsible for project deliverables that were not as expected long after the project is over. There may be team issues that now remain unresolved and can become a hindrance in your new project.

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