Effort required – 15 minutes
The final stage of a project is the “project close-out”, sometimes also called project closure. It is also usually the most frustrating and non-measurable part of a project. A poor closeout can even totally derail a project that has otherwise been running smoothly.
As such, the final steps of a project have a significant impact on both project success as well as its profitability. One of the reasons for this is that a significant part of the project payments are usually withheld until formal project close-out is completed. Another reason is that some stakeholders such as subcontractors may allot their resources to another project during this time. This puts the main stakeholder at risk of incomplete deliverables, documentation, loss of goodwill, etc.
The right project close-out plan is important to efficiently and effectively hand over the project to the client or end-user in line with their expectations. To facilitate a seamless transition from execution, monitoring and control to formal close-out, a list of best practices are listed below:
- Project document updates
Every project will have a set of documents that are required to be updated and submitted to the client during close-out. These requirements are usually defined at the tender stage of the project. Some of the most common close-out documents are:
As-built drawings – In case of a construction project, drawings that were submitted and approved before execution stage must be updated to As-built. As-built drawings are prepared to incorporate minor but essential changes to shop drawings that were encountered during execution.
Operation and maintenance manuals – O&M manuals contain all the information required for the operation, maintenance, decommissioning and demolition of a facility, service or system.
Warranty Certificates – during formal close-out the client must be issued warranty certificates to various project facilities, services or system as specified in the project specifications.
Lessons learned register
Lessons learned is the knowledge gained from the various stages or processes of a particular project. It is based on evidence at a given time and lists out details of what went right and what went wrong during the course of the project.
Lessons learned are important because these lessons form the foundations to avoid repeated failure in future projects.
When preparing a lessons learned register, the following has to be considered:
- Scope is defined;
- Points are factually correct;
- Impacts operational processes;
- Identifies a process, design, decision that can be done differently to give a positive outcome.
Final product, Service, Result transition
The result of any project is that it delivers a product or service to the client. The end-user of this product or service may be a different entity. For example, take the case of an airport project. Though the client may be the Ministry of Civil Aviation/Airports Authority, the end-user is the newly formed legal entity such as Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).
Since the end-user is usually not part of the project during its early stages, it is crucial for the end-user to receive all relevant documents and training related to the final product or service. This is essential for the end-user to operate, maintain, and support it throughout its life cycle.
According to the PMBOK Guide pg12, the final report provides a summary of the project performance. It can include information such as (but not limited to):
- High level summary of the project
- Scope objectives
- Quality objectives
- Cost objectives
- Summary of the validation of final product or service
- Schedule objectives
- Summary of how the final product or service achieved the intended result
- Summary of any risks or issues encountered on the project and how they were addressed.
Organizational process assets updates
Organizational process assets updates include:
Project documents – these include all relevant documents produced as a result of the project activities. These include As-built drawings, change orders, etc.
Operational and support documents – These include O&M manuals, warranty certificates, spare parts list, etc.
Project or phase closure documents – These are formal documents that record completion of the project or phase and the transfer of the completed project or phase deliverables to others, such as an operations group or to the next phase. These include Taking-Over Certificates, End of Maintenance Period Certificate, redundant materials list, etc.
Lessons learned repository – Lessons learned and knowledge gained throughout the project are maintained in a Lessons learned register. The final accepted version will now be transferred to the lessons learned repository for use in future projects.