The goals of this process are to:
- close a project or programme that has delivered all its outputs;
- close a project or programme that is no longer justifiable.
The first goal refers to the closure of a project or programme that has completed its objectives. The second goal refers to the closure of a project or programme if it is no longer achievable, justifiable or viable. It is important that any project and programme method incorporates the need to terminate work early if it is no longer of benefit to the host or client organisation.
The full name of this process in ISO21500 is ‘Close project phase or project’. Simply calling it ‘close’ allows it to be invoked to close programmes, tranches and stages as well, since the same principles can apply to all these elements of the project and programme hierarchy.
- Progress reports
Progress reports can indicate one of two things: the successful completion of the work is approaching or the objectives are increasingly unlikely to be achieved in a viable way.
In either case the management team will need to start preparing for the closure of the project or programme.
- Contract documentation
Contract documentation will indicate what needs to be done in terms of closing contracts. For example, some may require notice period, others may define a process for agreeing final payments.
- Completion reports
Completion reports confirm what has been completed and accepted by the relevant stakeholder(s).
Closing a project or programme involves final hand over of deliverables and the closing down of the infrastructure that was set up to manage and deliver the work.
The management organisation will need to be disbanded and any external contracts closed. Funding arrangements will be concluded and final accounts prepared.
All project or programme information will finally be archived and, as ever, stakeholders must be engaged in the whole process.
- Organisation management
By definition, a project or programme organisation is a temporary construct. As closure approaches the necessary actions must be taken to disband and demobilise the organisation, while ensuring that there are still resources available to perform the collect lessons learned process and any identified follow on actions.
- Stakeholder management
This is a key point at which to establish long term stakeholder satisfaction with the project or programme.
Stakeholders should be informed of the impending closure of the project or programme and given the opportunity to raise any outstanding issues.
Some stakeholders will need to be engaged to ensure that the benefits arising from the outputs of the work continue to be realised.
- Resource management
Contract and internal staff will need to be demobilised.
Any infrastructure set up to manage the project will need to be re-allocated, sold or de-commissioned.
- Financial management
Work may well continue after the management organisation has been disbanded to finalise the costs and benefits of the project or programme. As much as possible should be done while the management organisation is in place but resources must be in place to continue the work to its conclusion.
- Information management
All project documentation should be collected and, once the collect lessons learned process is complete, archived in accordance with company policy.
- Completed procurements
This refers to the completion of contracts but may include identification of follow-on actions, such as the agreement of a final account.
- Closure report
A report listing the actions that have been taken to hand over all outputs, release resources, close contracts and identify follow-on actions.
The report should also inform the sponsor of the degree to which the original business case has been achieved – or if further change management and benefits realisation has yet to be performed – the degree to which the business case has been achieved to date and the forecast final outturn.
- Released resources
While the release of contract resources is fairly straightforward, the release of internal resources back into the host organisation will require co-ordination with line managers. A debriefing process should ensure that individuals know their contributions are valued and possibly identify any training and development required. This is part of the wider procedure of demobilisation.
This process is also used at the end of a stage or tranche that does not coincide with the completion of the project or programme, i.e. there is another stage or tranche to be performed. In this case it may not be a case of releasing resources. Rather they are transitioned from one tranche or stage to the next. The close process will actually overlap with the develop charter process of the next stage or tranche.
- Follow-on actions
This is not an output specified by ISO21500 but it is a fact of life that when project and programmes are formally closed there are often a number of ‘tidying-up’ actions required.
The closure process should identify these actions and ensure there are people allocated and available to perform them.
Projects and programmes
The principles of closure do not vary with complexity. As complexity increases there is simply more to do to hand over products, demobilise and close contracts.
The key difference between different levels of complexity is the inclusion in the work of managing change to deliver benefits.
A small project that does not have benefits in its objectives will simply hand over a completed product. The follow-on-actions report will relate to minor fixes or maintenance of the accepted product. Acceptance will be conditional on the completion of the follow-on-actions.
At the other end of the scale, a major change programme will be closed when all the component projects have been completed – but this will not be the point at which all the benefits set out in the business case have been achieved.
The equivalent of the simple follow-on-actions report will be a benefits realisation plan that runs from the administrative closure of the programme and demobilisation of the programme infrastructure through to the realisation of the benefits set out in the business case.
This realisation plan will set out remaining change management activity required to ensure the planned benefits are achieved.