A project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result,” as defined by PMBOK (2021); therefore, every project must end. Hence, it is required to complete or close a project formally, and the process(es) performed to do this are called the project closing process(es). According to Heagney (2012), 42 project management processes are integrated logically into five process groups initiating, planning, executing, watching, and controlling, and closing. Therefore, closing processes are as important for project management as other processes.
Significance of Project Closures
The closure process in project management is important to ensure that all the customers, the project team, the contractor, and the end-user have completely realized all their obligations without neglecting or ignoring anything (Zohrehvandi et al., 2020). According to PMBOK (2008), in a project life cycle, Project Closing consists of precise controls and processes to achieve the following goals:
- Closing the project effectively as required in the contract.
- Making the project ready for the next operational level, like installation and integration into the current system.
- Analysis of financial data, project schedule, and efforts made to complete the tasks to evaluate the overall performance of the project team.
- Formally shutting the project office and relocating all resources allocated to the project, including the workforce, according to the project plan.
Types of Project Closures
Project closing marks the end of the project management activities in the project life cycle and the scope statement incorporates a well-defined ending for the project but not all projects culminate as planned therefore various categories for project closure are Normal, Premature, Perpetual, Failed, and Changed Priority Closures (Gary and Larson, 2011). Some project closures happen due to non- technical reasons which are Political, Cross-cultural, and Senescence Closures, according to Meredith et al. (2018), and conflict is associated with each type of these closures in some way. According to Crowe (2006), ‘Alpha’ project managers allocated 3% of the project labor hours to project closing processes as opposed to 2% by other project managers.
Fig – 2 Source: Schwalbe (2012) Key Elements of the Closure Process There are two distinct parts of the closure process: first, the decision to close or otherwise, and second if it is decided to close the project, then carry out the decision. Therefore, key elements of the closure process are activities or tasks performed to wrap up a project (Gary & Larson, 2011). According to Meredith et al. (2018), these processes include technical and administrative tasks, especially in IT projects. The technical functions include formally accepting the product(s) or services by the customer and project stakeholders and smoothly integrating the IT project deliverables into the company’s routine or structure upon project completion. Technical closure is termed by Kerzner (2013) as Contractual closure. The archiving of project files, contracts close out, receipt of client’s formal acceptance of work delivered, and proper documentation of lessons learned are administrative activities associated with the project closing processes (Schwalbe, 2012). Moreover, three documents, namely the Clients Acceptance Form, Lessons-Learned Report, and Final Project Documentation must be formulated at this stage.
Based on the literature review (Gary& Larson,2011; Heagney, 2012; Kerzner, 2013; Meredith
et al., 2018) following are primary tasks prescribed to be performed by project managers at project closing:
- Make sure all project work is complete, including the tasks to be performed by subcontractors.
- Closing out all contracts with vendors and subcontractors, if any.
- Notify the client or project sponsor and stakeholders of project completion and ensure delivery (and installation) is accomplished. The client must acknowledge acceptance of the project.
- Clearance of final bills, a proper compilation of final invoices, and dispatch to the customer.
- Reallocate human resources, equipment, material, and other resources to their origin or as prescribed in the project planning document.
- Process patent applications if required and culminate contracts with the legal counsel and consultant if hired for the project.
- Recording and archiving all “nondisclosure” documentation.
- Evaluation and finalization of the records (data and documentation) must be retained on the project.
- Safe and secure storage of the records mentioned above and formally handing over the custody to the customer or an archivist.
- Determine the support requirements for the delivered product, formulate the support delivery mechanism and allocate responsibility to appropriate quarters.
- Ensure all books on the project are correctly closed.
- Ensuring the completion of all documentation on the project, including a terminal evaluation of the project deliverables and preparation of the project’s final report, including any lessons learned from the administration and management of the project.
Lessons Learned Knowledge is classified by Polanyi (1962) as tacit (internal) and explicit (external), and the success of any organization is dependent on the extent of effective management of this internal and external knowledge, according to Switzer (2008). Employee learning is one of the major factors contributing to the organization’s learning, as mentioned by Simon (1991); therefore, past experiences must be integrated into the current and future projects by the organizations (Ladika, 2008). The lessons learned process, therefore, creates a perpetual learning cycle which is vital for maturing the project management abilities of the organizations, project managers, and teams, according to Kerzner (2013). Based on the research by Shokri-Ghasabeh & Chileshe (2014) and the application of the lessons learned process in the real world by Mr. Jawdat Mansour in class, the lessons learned process is recommended to be carried out as follows: – Conclusion
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