What is the closing process group?
The closing process group consists of two main activities: project closure and administrative closure. Project closure is the formal completion of the project deliverables and their transfer to others, such as the client, customer or other recipient of the project products or services, the termination of the activities of the project team and the completion of lessons learned or experience gained on the project. Administrative closure completes all project documentation and formally signs off any contracts external to the project organization. The archiving of project documents and lessons learned on a project are valuable intellectual property for an organization. The project documents can often prove invaluable in providing an aid to planning and identifying risks for future, similar projects. Experience has shown that without proper documentation, corporate memories are exceptionally short; even with the best will in the world, individuals' memories are highly selective and often focus on the highs or lows associated with projects, without remembering the underlying reasons for events. The experiences of an engineering firm involved with technical research and development have shown that even if the individuals on a particular project are retained by the organization, the working knowledge to complete similar projects is lost after a period of around two years.
Table 3.5 summarizes the results of the closing process.
What is the output of closing?
The main output of the closing process group is the formal transfer of the project deliverables to others, either internal or external to the project organization. At this point the execution and monitoring and controlling processes should have converged and the completed deliverables correspond to the revised baseline plan. A useful exercise for the project manager at this point is to examine the revisions to the baseline plan and compare these to the initial assumptions made in the planning process. The difference between the assumptions and those risks and external changes that resulted in change requests are often useful for future projects, since in many cases they will have resulted from the organizational structure or environment the project was conducted in.
Table 3.6 describes the two processes associated with the closing process group and their inputs and outputs.
Why is closing important in project management?
The end stages of a project are often the most difficult for a project manager. At this point interest in the project may be waning or the feeling that the job is complete may lower the effort of the project team. The role of the project manager is to ensure that all of the project deliverables have been met and that the project scope statement has been satisfied. Some projects have suffered from unexpected requests or aspirations expressed by stakeholders at the closure stage. To avoid this it is essential to ensure that stakeholder management and project communications are maintained until the formal close of the project.
Who should be involved in closing?
Closure is essentially an action for the project manager and the project team. During the later stages of a project, the commitment of project team members may decrease rapidly as they concentrate on reassignment to new projects or different roles within the organization. It is important for the project manager to motivate the project team members and keep them directed to completing project work until formal closure.
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