Phew! The project you just finished is over and now you can breathe a sigh of relief, and you might be able to take a deep breath before the next project gets assigned to you. However, just because you've sent off final deliverable to the customer and maybe had a follow up conversation with him or her to discuss the final outcome of the project, that doesn't mean the project is officially closed.
While most project managers are usually eager to begin the next project, there are still some outstanding steps to take on closing out your previous project before beginning the next one. Properly closing out all projects after completion is ensuring correct project management.
Here are some steps to take and keep in mind to properly close out the completed project:
Close Out All Contracts/Financials
When closing out a contract, one of the most important things project managers should do is to make sure to monitor client contract administration and management and ensure all contracts with suppliers were properly sent out and invoiced (such as purchase orders, or other type of fixed price or cost reimbursable type contracts).This is important not only because it is proper project management as well as project procurement, but it is also ethical business practice. All suppliers should be properly compensated for any work performed and completed in a timely manner.
It's also important to deal with any miscellaneous procurement items, such as missing or incorrect invoices or any claims. They don't fix themselves or get settled or go away on their own. Besides, it will also ensure a happy and professional working relationship with all suppliers, which is pertinent for the success behind future projects.
Review Budgets and Financials
After a project is completed, it's important for project managers to take time to review the project's financials.
Were costs accurately budgeted for? Were the costs overrun or understated, and why? If you worked with suppliers, how was their performance?
Cross-reference the project specs against the supplier criteria table or the performance index to get the project's "earned value", which is essentially determining how costs, schedules, and supplier performance all added into supplier cost, and whether supplier performance was worth their cost.
Proper Documentation and Archiving
It's also very important for project managers to document everything on the project prior to archiving.
Project managers should carefully document the original project specs and project definition, the statement of work, the work breakdown structure, any key client and/or supplier correspondence, any changes in the project specs or schedule, what worked and what didn't, all costs, team and supplier performance, contract administration, etc.
Anything that is or was important to the project should be accurately and documented and saved.
This also includes all file-archiving management. Any files that suppliers worked with or files shared between functional areas and departments or team members should be properly saved and archived for future use or reference, if needed.
If the project was entirely new or was for a new client, it’s important to document stakeholder policies and requirements for future work or projects with that particular client. This will not only save time and money, but will ensure a successful working relationship with that particular account, and is really professional project management practice and diligence.
Post-Mortems and "Lessons Learned"
Unfortunately, this step often gets overlooked in the world of project management. Many times project managers are eager or are under a severe time crunch to begin a new project that there is no longer time to spend discussing a completed project. However, it will ensure proper project management all around if teams are able to take a little time to discuss what worked and/or what didn't after a completed project. This is often referred to as a "post-mortem" meeting. While a post-mortem meeting is not designed as a "blame game", it is more or less the opportunity to discuss a project and any lessons learned. This could be related to issues that could have gone better or that need improvement for next time. It could also involve discussing a new client and stakeholder requirements so that teams are aware of those requirements for future projects.