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Project management consists of five process groups, namely initiating, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closing. The project closure phase consists of the processes that are performed to officially finish and close all the assignments in a project or phase. The concluding action in this group will usually include the approval and transfer of the project deliverables to the user or customer. It is important that all actions that are included in the closing group are performed thoroughly, since only then will a project be considered as closed. The essence of this group is that all the stakeholders agree that the project has met its assigned objectives, and additional charges will not be assigned to the project. Furthermore, the staff and other resources can be assigned to other projects, or relieved if not required.
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Key Activities During Project Closure Phase
There are numerous important activities that are performed at the project closure phase. Their details are as follows:
Acceptance of Deliverables: This is the most important action that is taken during the project closure phase. The project deliverables are reviewed by the customer according to the agreed acceptance criteria, and formally accepted. The acceptance criteria relate to the functional capability of the project deliverables, and are essentially a contract according to which a project is executed.
Finalize the Lessons Learned: It is important that lessons learned during the project are formally completed in the project closure phase, before the project team is assigned to other projects, or relieved. In order that the lessons learned are properly documented, a questionnaire may be circulated to the stakeholders for completion. Generally, the questions are aimed to obtain unbiased views, and include the critical success achieved during the project execution, and the factors that contributed to the achievements. Similarly, the difficulties encountered, and the actions that could have avoided this situation need to be explained. This information will be an important guide for subsequent projects. Other aspects that may be included in the lessons learned are the technology used, acceptance criteria of the deliverables, monitoring of the project, internal and external communications, involvement of user, and the implementation of the project schedule.
Project Report: A project report is completed at the project closure phase that is submitted to the project sponsor. This document essentially includes the project summary, starting from initiation till closure. The significant topics that are included in this report are the project purpose, objectives, plan, schedule, and a comparison of the initial baseline schedule and the actual schedule. Details are provided regarding the changes incorporated, processes tailored, and their effects on the project. Financial aspects are important to be included in this report. This post execution examination is an assessment of the project's effectiveness, and its preparedness for future projects.
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Activities During the Project Closure Phase
Update and Archive Documents: The project documents are prepared at the project initiation, and amended or updated as the project is executed, till the project closure phase. Updating of project documents is essential so as to be useful for future projects. Finally, these documents are archived for future reference. These documents are extremely useful when planning and executing future projects, and act as a useful template. Efforts undertaken during the project in preparing the project plans, and other documents are beneficially utilized for future projects, and thus repetition is avoided.
Other Important Activities: Other important activities that are undertaken during the project closure include the finalization of procurement, open issues, customer training regarding the deliverables, release or re-assignment of resources, project team appraisals, vendors performance, final payments to contractors, and administrative closure.
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All projects reach an end, either the objectives being achieved as planned, or the project being terminated since the project may now not be viable. In either case, the project closure phase is an important element of the project activities and needs to be completed with deliberate efforts. Projects are intended to create a precise exclusive result, and on achieving this outcome, the end is reached, and culminates in the project closure. After the completion of the post project review, the project is considered to be formally closed. The process of project review may emphasize issues that should be concentrated in the forthcoming projects. In some project environments, the projects occur rapidly at a fast pace, and thus a project flows swiftly into another project. In such circumstances, it is important to remember that the project closure phase has to be completed with full efforts. The planning and execution of the subsequent projects will become much simpler by the conduct of a proper project closure phase of the preceding projects.
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- Izmir Economi University, Sample Project Closure Report, URL: stdhomes.ieu.edu.tr/~hasanyonuk/Project%20Closure%20Report.doc
- Carnegie Mellon, Activities during the project closure phase, URL: http://www.cmu.edu/computing/ppmo/project-management/life-cycle/closing/index.html#Section3