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Close project or phase

Every project is a temporary undertaking and therefore has a start date and a finish date, meaning that every project will eventually come to an end and that is where the close project or phase process is used.

The Close project or phase process can be thought of as the process that performs a controlled shut down at the end of the project.  As is normal within a project, there is documentation to be archived, capturing any lessons learned to be passed on for future projects, ensuring that any contracts are properly shut down, and updating any organizational process assets.

Most projects are also split into a series of phases or stages, and therefore the close project or phase process may be used at the end of each phase or stage as well as at the end of the project.

Close project or phase purpose

The purpose here is to gather project records and disseminate information in order to gain project product acceptance, and to perform project closure

Many projects final because they are allowed to drift on, often for several weeks or months because they have not been officially closed.  Not only will such a situation cause delays in handing over the end-product into the life business area, but also will incur additional labour costs because the project team will continue to book their time against the project.

The aim therefore, is to use this process to execute a timely and controlled project shutdown.

If this process is also being used to close a particular phase of stage within the project, then again, it will assist in providing the latest information so that the project board or sponsor can make an informed choice as to whether or not to proceed to the next phase or stage.

Clearly some of the activities may not be needed when this process is used to close a phase of stage, so a degree of common sense is needed here.

As mentioned above, part of this process ensures that adequate documentation and records are updated to support the decisions made, and also to provide a valuable source of lessons for future projects as well as a concise audit trail should it be necessary.

Such records and documentation will become new or modified organizational process assets for use on future projects.

The following diagram summarizes the close project or phase process and shows the main inputs, tools, and outputs:

 

closeproject1

Key activities typically include:

  •    Review project documents, and update if required
  •    Update your resource assignments (advising/letting go)
  •    Document the project outcomes
  •    Request formal acceptance from stakeholders/customer
  •    Analyse the project management processes to determine their effectiveness
  •    Document the Lessons Learned
  •    Archive all project documentation for future historical reference/audits

Dealing first with the inputs:

Project management plan. 

This single document guides the executing, monitoring and control, and closure of the project, even though this document is actually made up of several documents.

The project management plan therefore is a major and important input as a source of reference to make decisions about whether the project or phase is indeed complete.

The project management plan contains many plans within it, and these include scope, requirements, cost and schedule, quality, communications, risk management, procurement and stakeholder information.

You can see therefore that this document is used as a major source of reference as part of closing a project or phase.

Accepted deliverables.

As the name suggests, the deliverables are the whole purpose that the project was undertaken in the first place.  These deliverables must be acceptable to the appropriate stakeholders before they can be deployed into the live business area.

Such deliverables will have already passed through the control quality and validate scope process is to ensure that they meet specifications for completeness and correctness.

Organizational process assets.

Notice that this is both an input and an output.  The reason is fairly obvious in that such original process assets will need to be updated as a result of the knowledge and any changes made during the project.

The formal sign-off of the acceptance of the product is documented and archives for future reference. The Warranty period may start from this point in time

In this way, value is added to the organization in the light of experience as such assets are refined and updated.

Organizational process assets may take the form of information, tools, documentation or organizational knowledge.  It is part of your job as a member of the project to contribute to these assets wherever and whenever possible.

Some examples of organizational process assets may include:

  • Templates such as plans or strategies
  • Policies procedures and guidelines
  • Tools used in the creation of the specialist products
  • Knowledge bases
  • Competences and skill sets
  • Equipment
  • Lessons learned

Tools and techniques.

Expert judgment.

This can be used whenever the project team and the project manager do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise.  Therefore such experts may come from within the organization or external to it, they may be paid consultants or simply individuals offering free advice and guidance.

Analytical techniques.

Such techniques are used to understand root causes or to generate potential forecast options.  Such analysis can be done in either a structured or unstructured manner.

Using the fishbone or Ishikawa diagram is one type of analytical tool that may be used here.

Such a tool may be used to generate recommendations for lessons learned.

Meetings.

These may be used by inviting appropriate stakeholders or experts to work on one or more of the inputs and outputs of the close project or phase process.

Outputs.

Final product, service, or result transition.

This refers to the accepted deliverable’s acceptance and hand over of responsibility to the appropriate users and owners of the end-product.

Such users and owners may include the customer, the end users, operational management, a support or sustaining group, in fact any individual or group who is responsible for life business use of the end-product.

For this transition to be successful, it implies that the product has already been accepted and is ready for deployment within the life business area.

Organizational process assets updates.

Here at the end of the project or one of its phases, information will have been obtained, tools will have been provided, purchased or bout, and additional knowledge and experience will have been gained.

Project records and files are archived such as:

  • project planning documents
  • project scope statement
  • budget information
  • schedule information
  • risk responses
  • quality plan
  • baseline information
  • change records and other logs
  • project closure documentation
  • product transfer information
  • handover to operations and support organizations
  • details of optional post-implementation audits

In addition, new documentation may also have been created.

All of the above should be updated as an organizational process asset and passed on to the appropriate group or individuals who will be responsible for maintaining them.  Such a group may often be a project office or a central project support group.