There are three things that a project must have. A project must be unique along with a definite start and finish. Without any one of these it is not a project. So it is critical to have a definite end to the project. The way to do this is to have a closure step in your project.
In this article I outline why it is important to close a project. I then cover the five step agenda that I use for all my closure meetings with the project owner. By the end of this article you will have solid agenda that you can use to close your project. This closure meeting agenda will lead to the owner closing your project.
The closure step is one that is often missed and this causes project managers lots of problems. What happens is the project goes quiet and the project manager moves on to their next project. They are busy working flat out on this new project when they get a tap on the shoulder. What happens is someone decides they want something developed and it is a bit like your old project. They then go to see your project owner and tell them how fantastic this little development will be. Now because you have not closed the project you have more to do while also managing your new project. The project team is also going to resistive to doing this work as in their mind the project has finished. So it is very important to get your project closed. To get your project closed there is a simple 5 step agenda to follow.
The best way to close a project is to have a closure meeting with the project owner. It is also a good idea to have the project champion in the meeting.
The aim of the meeting is to get the project owner to agree the to the closure of the project. Having a set agenda increases the chance that the project owner will approve the closure. Below I outline the agenda that I use to close my projects.
The aim of the closure meeting is to have the owner agree to close the project. To achieve this aim you need to set the scene for the project owner. To make them feel comfortable there are five agenda items to cover in the meeting.
The first item in the agenda is to describe what the aim of the project was. It is a good idea to remind the owner what the project set out to achieve. The reason for this is the project started a long time ago and chances are they have forgotten the original aim. Also projects are living things that change shape as they grow and get delivered. There are so many different factors that impact a project during the delivery. This is likely to lead to a change of the original aim. So it is important to remind the project owner what the original aim of the project was.
With the background now set with the original aim the next step is to set out what the project has achieved. Did the project deliver everything it said would? Was any extra work done? For example agreed changes. Was there any promised work not done. By following this approach it shows what the project achieved against the expectation.
- The Difference
This is the part of the agenda where you describe why there is variation. Why did the project not achieve what it set out to do? Make sure you are open and honest when explaining the differences. Was a change requested? Did something take longer than expected? A bit of caution here. You do not want to provide surprises in the meetings. The owner should already be aware of these changes. This is about reminding them about the differences.
This section is all about making the project owner feel comfortable. The project owner does not want to have people coming up them complaining about the project. When they agree to the project closure they they need to be sure that they are not going to get any complaints. In this section explain the project handover work. Make sure you also include the handover steps that have not yet completed. For example training and operational manuals. Also explain the support that is in place for after the project closure.
- Agree to Closure
Now that the background has been set about the project you now need to move to agreement. This part is like closing a sale. You want the project owner to agree to close the project. If they seem hesitant to close the project you need to find out why. Remind them in a nice way that until you have project closure you can not start the next project. It is also a good idea to remind them about how much the project has cost so far. Keeping the project open will continue to increase costs.
How to Receive Closure
It is up to you and in many ways depends on how your company works. If your company is one that is bureaucratic then you made need a physical signature on a printed form. I have found that an email from the project owner is a good way to get confirmation of the project closure.
In summary it is important for projects to go through closure. For something to be a project it must have a definite start and finish. So a project that never closes is not a project. If you do not close your project then you risk people requesting more work which your project will have to pay for. You as the project manager are accountable for why your project spent more money. To close your project the best thing to do is have a project closure meeting with the project owner. The aim of the closure meeting is to have the project owner to agree to close the project.
There is a good five step agenda that you can use in your closure meeting. The five steps are:
- Agreement – What the project set out to deliver at the start.
- Achievement – What the project actually delivered
- Difference – This is explaining what the difference is between agreement and achievement
- Handover – What is the support for the project after closure
- Agree to Closure – Ask the project owner to close the project
This is the agenda that I use to close my projects well. If you use these same 5 steps on your projects then the project owner will close your project.
If you would like more information on projects and meetings enter your email address. I will also send you some great templates that you can use on your project.