The project is finally done and even the last work package is completed. After weeks of hard work, the team is looking forward to its well-deserved vacation or new tasks. Most of them are happy to leave the project behind after a stressful final project stage. No wonder that motivation for a formal project completion is low at that point. But if the customer demands improvements at a time when the team is already scattered to the four winds, a sloppy project completion will take its toll.
Check list: Project completionSabine Pfleger, Friday 17 May 2013 | Reading time: unknown
The project completion fulfills four important functions:
- Content: The team makes sure that all project goals have been achieved and that all work packages have been completed as long as the team members are still available.
- Administration: Team members prevent legal or commercial difficulties by finishing the project correctly.
- Social climate: Individual feedback discussions with all team members and a final celebration provide a good corporate climate.
- Perspective: The team documents the experience and knowledge gained through the project for future projects.
Our check list provides a small guide about how to finish a project in a professional and structured way:
- Confirm the achievement of project objectives: Are the project results in line with the customer’s requirements? Make sure that there is one last target/actual comparison.
- List all remaining activities: Are still tasks to be completed before the customer can formally approve the final project results? Who is in charge of these tasks and when do they have to be done?
- Make one last check of the functionality of the product or the service.
- Create a complete project documentation.
- Hand all necessary information over to the customer.
- Make sure that the project results are officially approved by the customer and document the fulfillment of the contract. This usually includes the project report, the project report presentation, the final invoicing and the acceptance protocol.
- Project report presentation: Present the final project report to the customer and to important stakeholders in a face-to-face meeting. This is the easiest way to find out whether there are still unanswered questions or disagreement.
- Project report: It is important that the customer will approve this report. It is supposed to provide the following information:
- Achievement of project goals
- Detailed list of all services rendered
- Project costs and expenses
- Experience gained through the project
- Recommendations for future projects
- Final invoicing: Are there still outstanding payments that have to be charged to the project account, such as bills of materials or personnel costs? The customer should also approve the final invoice.
- Acceptance protocol: This is one of the most important documents for project completion and it has to be signed by the customer.
- Project review:
- Evaluation of the team members’ performance in feedback discussions
- Analysis of customer satisfaction
- Analysis of employee satisfaction
- Target/actual comparison
- Evaluation of partners, suppliers and other contractors
- Archive important project documents: You also want to pay attention to the retention period of different document types.
- Put together the “lessons learned” for future projects: What went well? What could be improved for future projects? Which kind of experience and know-how can be used in other projects? You can make use of knowledge management techniques.
- Determine a person who will be responsible for the project results in the future. Who will take the line management responsibility for the project?
- Take the necessary steps for employees who leave the company after the project is finished: Return their staff identity cards, log off their telephones, block their access to the company network, issue letters of reference etc.
- Specify what should happen to material resources which have been purchased from project funds, such as hardware or software licenses. Who is allowed to use them in the future?
- Are there any perspectives or follow-up orders to the original project?
And don’t forget: The successful completion of a project is one of the highlights of project work which should be celebrated. It is a great opportunity for a temporary halt in the proceedings and to motivate the team members for future projects. You may want to thank the whole team for their great work. The celebration should be suitable for the team and the occasion. It can range from an official gala with important stakeholders to having drinks with your colleagues.