Project Managers often hand over the ‘baby’ to the Operations Managers and move onto the next project without so much as a thought – but it helps to have an agreed project closure strategy in place. Over the life of the project, progressively develop a project closure plan incorporating tasks, dependencies and resources required. All projects are by definition unique, but here are a few basic tips (in no particular order) to consider towards the end of the project:
- Internal Review – consult your project team, review project & business performance indicators, and identify any remaining or suggested tasks that still need to be completed
- Engagement – meet with project sponsors, review project & business performance indicators, review outstanding tasks, review project closure plan, and agree the closure steps
- Staff – personally thank all project staff, complete personnel evaluations, exit interview all project staff, and ensure staff know where they are going next
- Suppliers – personally thank all project suppliers, service providers and other contributors in writing, making sure they know why you are thanking them
- Finances – complete all staff and vendor payments, close all relevant project codes, capitalise allowable expenditure, and update the asset register
- Resources – identify whether there is a role for you in the redeployment of office space, office equipment, software licences, etc
- Information – close project schedule, close project registers (risks, issues, etc), close physical files, close project mailboxes, archive all documents and emails, tidy up the information directory structure, and withdraw any staff security privileges (ICT and office)
- Celebrate – nominate staff for awards (or make up your own), and celebrate the end of the project accordingly (gifts, lunches, parties, drinks, etc)
- Closure – complete your lessons learned (post-implementation) report, file and dsitribute it accordingly, and your finish your project manager’s journal
Looking back to acknowledge how far you’ve come is very important – and then you can move forward with an idea of how you can do things better and with the confidence that you have done your best.
Three critical registers to be maintained, monitored and controlled during projects – the risk register, the issues register, and the change (contract variation) register.
- The risk register arises from the risk management plan. It is dynamic and tracks new risks and the progress of any risk treatments.
- When a risk is realised with a negative outcome, it moves to the issues register. The issues register documents the resolution and remediation of issues – [DB – I also use it to record unanswered questions].
- The change register is a way of avoiding “scope creep” and doing more work than the contract specifies. A change request is the tool for expanding or varying the scope of a project or contract and must be approved by the key stakeholders.
As resources become increasingly scarce, organisations look for silver bullets to improve their work management practices. One of the great hopes for organisational transformation is project management. It is fairly simple in concept, but is often ineffective for a whole range of reasons.
A project has a well defined output – a deliverable or a product – that is designed to achieve a well defined result – an outcome or impact. A project also has a well defined deadline by which the project should be completed and a budget that limits the number of people, the types of materials, and the amount of money available to complete the project. Every project is unique – the only repetition is the way in which project management processes are implemented. Project work is very different from operational work. Operational work tends to have a greater urgency and it tends to keep the organisation afloat – but in the longer term, project work delivers improvement and change.
There are two directions in which a Project Manager needs to focus – looking up and out to the stakeholders outside the project who are expecting a certain outcome from the project; and down and in to the people working on the project who need clear direction to deliver what is expected in a timely fashion and according to budget.
From an external stakeholders’ perspective, project management is a constant decision-making tension between three dimensions:
- Scope (what the project is meant to deliver)
- Budget (how much money and therefore resources and materials can be applied to the project) and
- Time-frame (when must the project outputs be delivered). A change in one dimension inevitably leads to a change in one or both of the other dimensions.
These three dimensions are relatively easy to manage provided you have a clear and documented agreement about them. But from an external perspective, it is my belief that there is an extremely important fourth dimension – managing stakeholder expectations. It is probably the least effectively managed of any of the four dimensions. Therefore, it is important to have an agreed Project Plan that covers such issues as scope, budget and time-frame as well as:
- Governance (how decisions will be made and how directions will be given – often through a Project Board or Project Sponsor who can give you direction, support, and resources)
- Engagement (how much do they want to be involved); and
- Reporting (how stakeholders will be informed about progress , what do they want to know, how do they want to be told, and how often).
From an internal perspective, project management is a detailed process of planning, doing, checking and communicating. The following are critical tools in the implementation of your Project Plan:
- A Project Scope Statement – it clearly defines what change you are aiming to achieve and what you are trying to deliver to achieve that change
- A Project Schedule – a task list with dependencies, responsibilities, resources, timing and order
- A Project Budget – a way to keep track of costs
- A Project Risk Register – a list of the risks, an assessment of their importance, and any mitigating actions proposed
- A Project Issues Register – a list of all of the questions and issues that are raised while the project is extant and be diligent about dealing with them
- A Post Implementation Review Strategy – a way to go back at a later stage and formally ask yourself whether the Project was successful – and learn from what you discover!
- A Project Closure Strategy – a checklist of actions that will ensure that all loose ends are tied up – culminating in the submission of a Project Closure Report.
Some wisdom from Todd Hutchison about project management. Three critical registers to be maintained, monitored and controlled during projects – the risk register, the issues register, and the change (contract variation) register. The risk register arises from the risk management plan. It is dynamic and tracks new risks and the progress of any risk treatments. When a risk is realised with a negative outcome, it moves to the issues register. The issues register documents the resolution and remediation of issues – I also use it to record unanswered questions. The change register is a way of avoiding “scope creep” and doing more work than the contract specifies. A change request is the tool for expanding or varying the scope of a project or contract and must be approved by the key stakeholders.
Interesting project management perspective from comedian Tina Fey – striving for perfection should not get in the way of delivering on time and on budget. “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30!”