If you have followed steps 1 to 4 in this book, you should now have a successfully running project. However, one of the things that really differentiates the average project manager from the outstanding one who is always in demand, is the way the manager ends a project. Success in projects is not simply about producing deliverables, it is about producing deliverables and giving them over to your customer in the best way possible and making sure they can be used to meet the 'why' defined in your Project Definition.
The way you need to complete your project does vary considerably, depending on the nature of the project and the deliverables. There are many factors to consider when ending a project, most of which you will be aware of simply through common sense. However, there are some critical steps for some projects, which are regularly forgotten:
Test the deliverables. Do they work, and do they work as expected? This does not apply to all deliverables. But deliverables like computer software, a new telephone system, a new machine and so on should be tested to ensure they work properly.
Help the customer to use the deliverables. Some deliverables need to be explained to people, or implemented for them. On some occasions people need to be trained in how to use the deliverable. Again, this does not apply to all deliverables. For example, if your deliverable is a report, then customers usually don't need to be shown how to use it. However, some deliverables are not so obvious to use so if you have a new computer system, people need to be trained in it. A new office layout may need to be explained to the staff moving into it. New ways of working, such as revised processes and procedures, may require you not only to train people in how to use them, but also to convince them that the new processes are an improvement. If your deliverable is a new business policy or set of rules, you will need to educate staff on the new policy, and you may also need to explain the implications of the rules or policy and how they impact all aspects of their work. A new machine in a factory will require the operators to be trained. Whatever your deliverables, you must consider what help the final users and customers may need to gain the full benefit from it.
Support the customer whilst they get used to the deliverables, and for a short period when they find out if they are working properly. Some deliverables require support even if a customer has been trained how to use them. This may be because they are particularly complicated or because some problems do not immediately show up. So for example, with new computer software, it is usual for customers to find bugs after it has been implemented which the developers have to fix. Similarly if some building work is done for a customer, it is common for them to pull together 'snagging' lists of all the small things that are not quite right with the building.
The nature of the tasks you need to carry out in step 5 of the project will vary, depending on the type of project and the nature of the deliverables. So this section is less a list of specific instructions and more a set of questions to ask yourself. By asking the questions in this chapter you should be able to derive the tasks you need to do relevant to the specific situation. (There is also some more detailed supporting information in the Appendix.)