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As we say our final goodbyes to 2016, let’s remember that every project should be closed out when it is finally finished. There are some basic steps to that process, and many teams will want to skip them. Resist that urge. Project closure is more important than it might seem on the surface. Earlier this year, I wrote a blog on the seven steps of project closure. There is nothing magic about how I broke them down. Seven, three, five – it doesn’t matter as long as you cover the basics. To help you remember the basic project closure steps, keep this acronym in mind: CLOSE.

C is for Contracts – Close out all contracts.

Many firms have a standard process for contract closure and a contract manager who performs that function. If your firm doesn’t have a specific department that handles contract administration, here are some basics:

  • Review the contract to ensure that all contract requirements were fulfilled.
  • Confirm with the vendor that all requirements were met.
  • Obtain payment from the vendor.
  • Notify the vendor, in writing, that the contract is closed.

Failure to actually ensure that procurement contract requirements have been satisfactorily met, to ensure vendors have been paid, and to notify them that the terms of the contract have been satisfied could subject your firm to penalties or future liabilities and jeopardize ongoing relationships with the vendor.

It is equally important to do a post engagement (project) review of the contract (or engagement letter) with your customer, preferably in a face-to-face setting. The process is similar. Memories are short, and you may be surprised to find something in that contract that you had forgotten.

L is for Lessons – Learn something from your work.

Identify lessons learned and document them in some useful format so that you aren’t making the same mistakes on the next project.

O is for Organization – Organize the documentation to benefit the organization.

While you are wrapping up all of the project performance details, try to bring some closure and organization to all of the files. If you have done your job as a project manager, there will be a lot of documentation. Get it organized so that your organization has easy access to its historical records. Throw away the unimportant.

S is for Success – Find some successes to celebrate.

Hopefully, there is something to celebrate at the end of every project. Surely something went right. It is rare when everything goes according to plan. Look for something to celebrate! Your team will feel inspired. And, if you have had the privilege of working with a great team, try to ensure that you find another project for that team.

E is for Evaluation – Evaluate and document performance.

Review the original estimates, scope inclusions, constraints, and assumptions and analyze how effectively the project accomplished its objectives. By looking at the performance on projects, teams are able to improve efficiencies, better allocate resources, and achieve better results at a lower cost. Produce a final accounting and review it with the team, management, and perhaps the client.

Evaluation doesn’t stop with the project. Evaluate the people on the team. More and more, organizations are finding that a significant number of workers are spending more time on projects. Project ending dates will not usually align with the calendar year or a particular employee’s annual review date. However, the end of the project is a great time to write reviews and send them to the HR department for future use. Your team members will be grateful for any positive comments on their performance and might just consider working with you again.

It is easy to think that the basic project closure steps can be skipped. But don’t jeopardize your relationships with vendors and team members by skipping these project closure steps. Want some more tips on project management? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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