In this final stage of IT project management, the project work is complete and project activities wind down. Rather than letting them simply fade away, it's better to formally close the project out. This will vary from company to company (or IT project to IT project) and, in some cases, may be dictated by legal or regulatory requirements.
The first steps in closing out the project are to make sure all project work is complete and that any and all open issues are resolved. The issues log, for example, should be examined and all issues should be given a final disposition so nothing is left hanging. The same holds true for other logs or tracking devices such as change requests or bug tracking.
The final project documentation is important and should be completed in a timely manner. It might be needed or useful for historical purposes. Many IT project managers go back and review past projects when developing new project plans so they can use procedures, processes and lessons learned. The documentation might also be needed for the operational transfer phase or it might be needed for auditing purposes. Completing it in a timely manner will make the job much easier rather than having to re-create data and remember facts and figures long after the project is closed.
The project should also be formally signed off by appropriate parties. This ensures that everyone is on the same page with regard to project completion, project deliverables, and next steps. During this phase of work, you might also be preparing, reviewing, or revising the operational transfer plans so that ongoing support for the project's deliverables can be transferred seamlessly.
Hold a lessons learned meeting to gather the lessons learned captured throughout the project lifecycle. This is an opportunity for the team to share what they've learned and to understand how this new knowledge might be applied. A good lessons learned meeting is not an hour of finger-pointing, but instead an opportunity to learn as a group and grow in your ability to plan and manage IT projects.
Every company requires a certain amount of paperwork and this should be completed during the project close-out phase. This might include final project time cards, performance reviews, final billing, paperwork to transfer project assets to another department or division, or filing legal or regulatory paperwork. Also revoke any unnecessary security permissions or access to maintain tight network and building security. You should conduct project performance reviews with individual team members and use the opportunity to discuss the contributions and strengths the person brought to the team. You can also use the opportunity to identify learning opportunities so the team member can grow professionally.
Finally, you should hold your last team meeting. Depending on your company policies and your budget, you can have an on-site or off-site meeting; you can arrange a special event; you can provide awards, plaques, certificates, bonuses, or gifts to show appreciation for the team's efforts. This is a time to celebrate the project's successes and to send the team off to their next assignments.