Did you know that
good protect management can make dreams come true?
I have proven that
you can use project management to literally change your life. Now I am sharing
some of the tips, tricks and best practices I have learned in my project
manager life in hopes to help us all manage projects better.
My goal: to create a
world where no goal ever dies of loneliness!
It Ain’t Over Until It’s Over
I am wrapping up the
final week of a year-long project this week and it is a good reminder about
what “done” means in project management. All too often we get done with
implementation and then we are on to the next project. This leaves some
important things left undone.
The role of a
project manager doesn’t end with implementation.
is complete and all deliverables within your project plan have been delivered
is when the closure phase of your project happens. The purpose of the closure
phase is bring the ride to a full and complete stop so to speak.
This is where you tie up all of the loose ends and recap the project.
The closure phase is
very important so please don’t skip or shortchange it. In fact this phase is as
important to the success of future projects as it is to the project you are
closing. Make sure that your closure includes these three high-value steps.
Conduct a Lessons Learned Exercise
Whether you call it
a “lessons learned”, “hindsight” or
“retrospective” it is important to spend some time with your project
team reflecting on the journey you are ending. Think back through the whole
project and identify what went well that you would want to repeat in future
projects. Figure out what didn’t go well that you would like to avoid in future
A less traditional
item to include during your lessons learned it appreciation. Give your project
team members an opportunity to voice their appreciation and gratitude for each
other’s contributions. It is way too easy to move onto the next stressful project
having never thanked each other for our contributions. Let’s remember that
project team members are human beings and take a minute to celebrate that
Finally is an often
overlooked component of lessons learned exercises: action planning. I have seen
many lessons learned meetings that produce a ton of great output. Unfortunately
that output often just disappears with the project never to be seen again. By
taking a few minutes to plan how to convert those lessons into actionable steps
you can help ensure that the lessons from your project will be used to make the
next project better.
Produce a Project Closure Report
Once you have your
lessons learned identified and documented it is time to share them. The lessons
learned should be included in a final project deliverable: the project closure
A project closure
report is used to recap the events and achievements from your project for your
sponsor and other key stakeholders. This report should include the following:
- A recap of what the objective of your project.
- Any changes that were approved and implemented.
- The actions taken to achieve your objective.
- A recap of key delivery metrics including scope, schedule and cost performance.
- The recap of lessons learned and the recommended actions to activate those lessons.
The delivery of your
project closure report marks the formal closure of your project.
Pro tip: keep your
own copy of each of your project closure reports. These reports are good
reference materials for you for the future. These reports will help you build
and apply your own best practices in future projects. Plus these reports are a
good tool when updating your resume in the future.
Archive Your Project Documentation
Wait… don’t run away
from this project yet! There is one more important step and that is to clean up
In any project you
are likely to produce a ton of documentation. Some of this documentation is
valuable just during the project and has no lasting value. This information
should be properly disposed of in order to eliminate the digital clutter that
each of our projects tends to create. The more clutter exists the less valuable
the important documentation will become.
The next category of
project documentation is the items that have long-term value to the people in
charge of maintaining the deliverables from your project. These documents
should be transitioned to some location for long-term storage in partnership
with your project stakeholders.
Finally some of the
documentation has value as part of the historical record of your project. These
items support a concept I like to call “project archeology” where
somebody is trying to recreate the history of the project you are closing. This
happens in support of analytics and reporting, as a starting point for similar
projects in the future and sometimes as an audit or compliance activity. Make
sure to organize these “historical record” documents in an efficient,
logical manner to help future archeologists when they start their digs.
archive with care. Make sure that you are aware of all organizational policies
related to document retention and archiving. Some organizations are governed by
very strict policies in this space and you absolutely don’t want to violate those
in your zeal to leave a tidy digital environment.
When you are
approaching the end of your project make sure that you don’t implement and run
away without closure. The project closure phase is a good way to effectively
wrap-up the work of your project and to make sure that your team and your
stakeholders are ready for the project to cease to exist. It is also a good
time to remember the advice you learned as a kid and clean up after yourself
and put your “toys” away.
Want to learn more? Grab your copy of Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year in eBook or paperback. Visit OperationMelt.com/book/ for details.