The Three Phases of Project Management Closeout (3/3)

Phase III – CloseOut

When a project is completed, it will need to be closed out. This can be thought of as a cleanup phase that will allow for a smooth transition from the completion of the project to normal operations. Additionally you will want to properly archive related project materials such as training manuals, user instructions, or warranties. Lastly you will want to conduct case studies of what went correctly during execution and what did not go correctly in order to achieve continuous improvement.

The first part of the closeout is the cleanup phase. This phase will tie together all of the loose ends that are left over from execution. This could include paperwork, documentation, legal, etc. Sometimes when a project is complete, it is simply over. Think of building a house. When that project is done, it is done. Other situations require transitioning from a project to making the project into normal operations. An example of this would be when a factory decides to implement Six Sigma for quality control. The project would be converting to a Six Sigma practice and then maintaining those practices after the project is complete.

Then you will want to archive your data. When a project is completed, it really is unlikely that the same project manager will ever look at that project again. However, what happens when there is an issue with the completed project later down the road? In order to fully understand what is going on, there will need to be proper documentation. This could include instruction manuals, training manuals, warranty information or even details about the actual project itself. You need to have the proper archiving system so that needed data about the project can be retrieved later. This will prevent a loss to the client later on.

Lastly you will need to study the outcome of the project. Sadly many companies do this only as a formality. That is because they are quick to move onto the next project and they therefore do not take the time to fully reflect on the outcome of the previous project. This is unwise. What you need to do is to study the project fully and build the necessary case studies that will be needed for continuous improvement.

Case studies can come in two forms. One form is a study of what worked properly and this type of case study is often overlooked. You need this because without an example of a successful outcome, people will not understand what a successful outcome will look like. This is the part where you will highlight what went well and why it went well. The more common case study is a focus on failures. This is the exact opposite of the previous form of case study. In this situation we are looking at what failed and why. Then strategies are developed to prevent repeating the failure. In both cases, continuous improvement will be achieved by properly closing out the project.