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Project Closure Steps and Checklist: The Ultimate Guide

Project Closure Steps and Checklist

You have finished a big project involving diverse stakeholders. It took you months of slogging to execute the complex tasks. The clients got their deliverables on time. The entire team is happy to have pulled off a successful venture. All of you are in celebration mode.

But wait a minute. Is the job really finished?

You are missing out on one last step in the project lifecycle. That is project closure!

Project closure goes way beyond the routine completion of everyday tasks. It involves activities like paperwork, final approvals, releasing resources, and much more.

So if you are looking for the best tips to close your project then you have come to the right place. This blog gives you a clear understanding of closing a project, the benefits of project closure, the project closure checklist, and the tips and tricks to close a project with ease.

Let’s begin with the basics.

What Is Project Closure?

A project lifecycle can be divided into different stages such as the initiation phase, planning phase, execution phase, and so on. Project closure is the last stage of a project lifecycle. Here, the project is officially closed and handed over to the operations team. It consists of several important processes like:

  1. Making the final payments to all key stakeholders
  2. Releasing staff members, equipment, and other resources
  3. Final review of all the project phases
  4. Archiving and documenting project reports for future reference
  5. Receiving the final project approval and a go-ahead from all the parties involved.

You will be surprised to know that closing a project is as important as starting the project. Let’s see how.

Importance of Project Closure

A project closure plan comes with immense benefits like understanding your team’s overall performance, appreciating your top performers, documenting relevant knowledge for the future, and a lot more.

1. Document Lessons Learned

A project goes through multiple phases before the deliverables are handed over to the stakeholders. It involves adding new requirements during the project cycle, resource shuffling, payment issues, and much more. These varied experiences bring forth new learning for the organization.

Hence, it is necessary to document the lessons at the final closure stage. When any future projects go through the same issues, you need not work out solutions from scratch. You can easily refer back to the closure document to solve the problems.

2. Get a Clear Picture of Your Progress

Before starting any project, it is important to be clear about your project objectives. What do you want to achieve by the end of your project? Do you want to create a full-fledged asset like an interactive website? Or, are you looking to increase the productivity of your team members?

No matter what your objective, the project closure stage gives you a clear picture of how far you have progressed. Maybe your website creation went on well but the team productivity did not see a considerable improvement. Or maybe more objectives were added at the last moment but you managed to tackle them. Hence, project closure helps you make a reality check and improve upon future projects.

3. Tie Up Missing Links

However hard you try, you may end up missing out on certain tasks in a project. Some documents may not be updated, payments might be pending, client details could be missing, or there could be hurdles in getting the final signature.

While wrapping up a project, you get to review the project progress as a whole and tie up these missing links. Probably you notice that the documents have some factual errors and you can quickly correct them before the project goes live. Or, the payment might be pending for some of your clients and you can settle the bill to retain your client’s trust. 

4. Enhance Future Engagements with the Stakeholders

Interpersonal relationships are very important to ensure the successful completion of any project. Unless you are honest with your clients or employees, they might not put full effort into the project. At the project closure stage, look back and understand what went well and what did not. By doing so, you can build a good bond with all of the stakeholders, and who knows, you might even end up collaborating in the future.

For example, analyze if there was adequate team harmony during the project execution phase. If not, did that lead to delayed project completion? What can you do to prevent such delays in the future? Probably, you can keep multiple communication channels open. Also, you can foster team bonding by conducting informal events or setting up a peer-to-peer recognition system. 

Read More: Step by Step Guide to Project Planning

Steps to Closing a Project 

The project closure process involves steps like clearing budgetary formalities, realigning project resources, celebrating team efforts, and more. Wrapping up a project can become effortless if you follow the steps discussed below: 

Step 1: Finish Paperwork

A project life cycle leads to the creation of multiple documents. It could be in the form of contracts between stakeholders, budget approvals, issue logs, etc. During the closure stage, you need to ensure that all necessary documents are duly signed and cleared by the stakeholders. It creates legal proof of task completion. 

Also, ensure that you close all contracts with your clients by paying outstanding invoices and transferring the final project files. Unless you settle the administrative cum financial paperwork formalities, your project remains incomplete.

Step 2: Close Financial Formalities

A project comes with many expenses like workers’ salaries, client invoices, commissions, and more. Also, unforeseen requirements might crop up in between a project, leading to extra charges. This often goes unrecorded, leading to last-minute confusion. 

Ensure that none of these expenses are outstanding. If so, make sure that you clear them. Remember that a strong relationship is built on trust and mutual understanding, and any client gives great importance to financial transparency.

Step 3: Realign Project Resources

Every project requires the active effort of several workers. They could be internal to your company, or you might have outsourced the work to an external professional like a freelancer. These diverse people work in tandem to achieve the set targets. 

After the project completion, you need to release your internal resources so that they are available for other projects in the company. Even a slight delay from your end can affect the progress of other projects. Similarly, you need to close the deal with the external professionals, making things easy for them to move on in their careers. Also, ensure that all these resources are paid, and their contract is taken care of.

Step 4: Create Archive Documents

Create archive documents of the project

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Every project comes with its set of learnings. This could add as a guided roadmap for projects of similar nature. Or, what if your project is reopened in the future? A new manager should be able to go through the archive documents of the project and retrace the critical milestones. Hence, make sure that you archive every minor document like meeting minutes, requirement changes, phase blueprints, and more.

A project management software like ProProfs Project comes with a clear option to archive projects, export workflows, and quickly get started with customized templates. You can visualize project progress, requirement changes, comments, discussions, and so on.

Steps 5: Celebrate and Appreciate Efforts

Your team members put in a lot of time and effort in completing a project. Many of them might have dealt with their own personal issues while working on tasks. Also, you might have faced a resource crunch, communication gaps, or unexpected deadlines in the project. Hence, acknowledging the team effort gives everyone a sense of achievement.

Project closure is the best time to appreciate team efforts and celebrate. When members are lauded for their good work, they will feel valued and cared for. You can see that they might even be willing to put more effort into future project tasks. 

Hence, next time you wind up a project, ensure that you organize a celebration event where each team member gets the recognition that they deserve. This team-building celebration creates a long-lasting culture of gratitude and loyalty in your organization.

Read More: Project Management Process and Phases

Project Closure Checklist

A project closure checklist is a list of items that come in handy when you are closing a project. The checklist has a short entry of project closing details divided into different categories like financial, procedural, administrative, contractual, and so on. A project manager can use these checklists to confirm whether all the project requirements are fulfilled before a project goes live.

1. Financial Checklist

Budget is an important aspect of any project management. You need to pay your clients, contractors, and employees. Also, you need to keep a track of unnecessary expenses so that you can avoid them next time.

  1. Have all the resources been paid?
  2. Has a client invoice been generated?
  3. Was the project software expenditure taken into account?
  4. Have we transferred employee allowances to the concerned workers?
  5. Were there any unnecessary expenditures in the project?

2. Administrative Checklist

A lot of effort goes into managing the administrative aspect of a project. You need to create documents, assign resources, sign agreements, and so on. An administrative checklist helps you review these procedural aspects of a project.

  1. Have all the documents been delivered to the client?
  2. Were the approvals taken for the tasks?
  3. Was there an official closure of the contract?
  4. Have the resources been realigned or released?

3. Project Scope Checklist

The project closure stage is an apt time to review your project: Has your project met the desired objectives? Was there any project scope creep? How well were the extra requirements handled? And more. Hence, use the project scope checklist to analyze the overall performance of your project.

  1. Was the project scope taken into account?
  2. What were the new changes in the different stages of the project?
  3. Were the new changes completed on time?
  4. Did we add new resources in between the project schedule?

4. Learnings Checklist

Every project gives you an opportunity to learn something new. Probably, you saw a personality conflict between your team members and helped sort it out amicably. Or, you managed to work through deadlines in spite of the budget crunch. Referring to a learnings checklists ensures that you record your experiences for the future.

  1. What were the new learnings in this project?
  2. Were there any conflicts between team members during the project completion phase?
  3. How well did we handle the conflict?
  4. Is the archive document ready?

Strive for a Pragmatic Project Closure Plan

Although project closure is the last phase of a project, it cannot be simply ignored. In this stage, you can legally close the project formalities by overseeing paperwork, disbursing outstanding payments, creating archive documents of project learnings, applauding team members’ efforts, and more.

The closure process comes with many benefits like reviewing the lessons learned, acknowledging team effort, linking up the loose ends, and so on. Always remember to keep a checklist with you to keep track of every minute aspect of project closeout. 

Are you looking for a tool to successfully close projects at your workplace? If so, you can give ProProfs Project a try. Access some fantastic features like archived project documents to aid you with the closure process with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a project closure document?

A project closure document gives an analysis of the entire project lifecycle. There is a review of the project phases and final deliverables, leading to the project’s legal closing.

Q. How does project closure procedure improve future projects?

During a project closure process, there is a review of the project. This review gives an idea about what went well and what didn’t during the project. This understanding is sufficient to improve future projects.

Q. Who is responsible for producing the project closure report?

The project manager is responsible for producing the project closure report.

Q. Who is responsible for authorizing the closure of the project?

The sponsor or the top management is responsible for authorizing the closure of the project.

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.