Because of the way workflow typically progresses, the end of a project can generate almost as many details to tend to as the planning or initiating phases. Even when proper execution and monitoring processes have been addressed, there are still many tasks that need to be completed as the project comes to a close.
While many top project managers are initiating new projects while closing others, the process of having a strong finish can sometimes feel like an exercise in juggling cats. In order to assist project managers in closing projects with panache, the Project Management Institute’s publication, The Project Manager’s Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide includes an entire process group devoted to the skills and knowledge needed for strong finishes.
The closing process group comprises all the final processes needed to close out a project and deliver final products and reports to the stakeholders. Veteran project managers know that finishing strong with all the details in place can leave a lasting impression on a client who may then refer services to others or bring them back for another project, so during this phase it is important to be sure all contract obligations have been met.
Additionally, it is important that all documents regarding change orders and other related details are organized and delivered with any other reports regarding the final product. When closing out a project, it is important to make a good record of any changes in procedure that might be helpful in any of your future projects. Keeping good personal records on projects can help identify areas where advanced training, or professional mentoring might bolster already strong project management skills.
The PMBOK® divides the closing process into these two main areas for project managers to attend to as they close out projects:
Looking back over the various phases of the project as the entire undertaking comes to an end is an important task. Project managers must make sure no pieces have been left undone. During this phase, the project manager will meet with team leaders to close out all work orders related to individual team participation.
When making last minute budget adjustments, it is important to be sure that all details related to the procurement process throughout the project have been properly documented. It is common for some goods and services to change throughout a project; all necessary paperwork regarding substitutions and any resulting change in budgetary allotment must be made available to document those changes. Remember, closing out invoices and preparing the final report in a timely manner may have a positive impact on future opportunities.
The work of a project manager is complex. While education and training can prepare professionals for a beginning job in the field, experience, and ongoing professional development is needed to reach full potential. For project managers at all levels, professional mentoring or participation in an online course taught by an industry leader may provide another layer of expertise for those wishing to push ahead of the competition and achieve larger personal aspirations. For more information about career development for project managers, see Project Manager Job Outlook.