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Project Closure Template – Key Steps to Closing a Project

Mary Lewinson
January 17, 2011
18,373 views

A list of the key steps for terminating a project

project closure template

Project management professionals point at the high importance of using a project closure template to harvest the maximum knowledge from current projects and provide future projects with lessons learned and other valuable information. In the following Project Closure Template, we tried to follow best management practices to show the important steps for closing a typical project.


1. Post-Implementation Review

  • Definition. A post-implementation review (PIR) is a formal examination of the results received after the project has been delivered. The idea behind the PIR is to evaluate how successfully the project objectives have been achieved and whether the PM basics have been followed in keeping the project feasible and on track. During the project closure phase, the post implementation review is finalized by writing a report (so called “post implementation review report”).
  • Key Actions. In this project closure template, the following is considered the key steps for conducting a successful post implementation review:
    • Prepare information on project input.
    • Organize the PID only after the deliverables of your project have been in service for an adequate time period, so that you can evaluate success of the product’s integration into the business.
    • Investigate the Project Charter and analyze how closely the project results match with the expected objectives, goals and deliverables.
    • Organize exercises for project closure lessons learned to capture best management practices for inclusion in the PIR document.
    • Conduct a gap analysis to evaluate how closely the planned requirements, schedule, and budget were linked to each other and what results were actually delivered, when and for how much.
    • Use project success metrics to evaluate the efficiency of the project management practices.
    • Capture and document project closure sample practices and procedures that led the project to success.
    • Make a post implementation review report and include all appropriate documentation, such as quality assurance reports, customer survey results, project performance reports, etc.

2. Lessons Learned

  • Definition. Conducting a lessons learned exercise refers to organizing a set of activities for gathering, documenting and analyzing feedback received from project participants and describing events that have happened during the project.
  • Key Actions. To conduct the lessons learned exercise, follow the next steps of this project closure template:
    • Make an announcement of the exercise and make sure the project manager, team members and key stakeholders are involved in conducting the exercise.
    • Schedule date for the exercise (it should a date following soon after the project closure date).
    • Consider hiring a lessons learned facilitator who will assistant you in holding the project closure exercise.
    • Discuss details of the closure exercise with the project manager.
    • Use information on project closure lessons learned from previous projects to get a better understanding of how to best organize the project closure event.
    • Dedicate the session in a comfortable location.
    • Make an agenda and share it with the invested people.
    • During the meeting, try to focus on tactical dictions and implementations made during the project.
    • Try to discuss lessons learned in a positive way – this will promote the best management practices.
    • Ask prompting questions and receive feedback and comments.
    • Document the results of the lessons learned exercise and add them to the post implementation review report.

3. Staff Transfer and Release

  • Definition. During the project closure phase, staffing transfer and release means a process for accommodating staff changes or shifting employee responsibilities since the project comes to an end and the project closure procedures are started. Because current project has no longer need for staff, employees should be released or allocated to new projects.
  • Key Actions. Take the next steps of this sample project closure template to release your project staff:
    • Start the process for staff transfer & release following the staff management plan developed at the beginning of project.
    • Plan ahead for staff management practices and options. Be ready to care for the project staff at the very beginning of the project closure sample phase.
    • Express your honor and thanks to the staff members and project contractors. Think about organizing celebrations (refer to the final step of this project closure template).
    • Do your best to release project staff and contractors in a dignified manner.
    • Be ready to provide feedback on staff performance.
    • Be ready to compose letters of recommendation for those staff member who’ve shown an exemplary contribution to your project.
    • If possible, organize career counselling activities and provide employees with outplacement services.
    • Share CVs of your staff with other project managers and PMPs who can give new job opportunities for the staff.
    • Collaborate with Human Resource Manager of your organization to keep employee files up to date.

4. Finance Closure

  • Definition. Closing project finance means managing a process for of finalizing all project-related financial transactions, completing accounts, transferring project assets, and releasing the work site.
  • Key Actions. You can take the next steps of this project closure template to settle all financial concerns:
    • Set deadlines for the completion of all financial transactions and schedule project closure for financial accounts. Then publish this information to all project staff and vendors.
    • Make sure that all acceptance criteria listed in the Statement of Work (SOW) have been met prior to payments to project vendors and consultants.
    • Make sure that there’re no outstanding invoices, incomplete transitions and unresolved financial obligations.
    • Add the annotation “Final Payment” to all vouchers for payment.
    • Organize project closure activities for financial accounts.
    • Comply with finance closure requirements for records retention and financial reporting.
    • Make transfer of assets according to the project acquisition plan.
    • Release the work site by using agreements with facilities management.

5. Project Archive

  • Definition. A project archive is the systematic storing of project documents and artefacts (like project charter, project models, lessons learned documents, working papers). The project archive is important to administrative closure. When you have historical project documents at you disposal, this will provide valuable information for planning future projects, for on-going product support, for maintaining the project, and for public project disclosure requests.
  • Key Actions. You can take the following steps of this project closure template to archive the project:
    • Use a dedicated server to deploy a centralized database where you will keep project artefacts as hard copies.
    • Use a folder structure to store project data in one database file.
    • Make sure hard copy artefacts are stored safely and only authorized persons have access to the database.
    • Include a description to every artefact being stored in the database.
    • Assign a maintenance team and make sure its members have authorized access to all the project artefacts stored in the database.
    • Make sure papers on project closure lessons learned are available and organized into a library with search capabilities.

6. Celebration

  • Definition. Project closure celebration is a fun event dedicated to acknowledging the successful completion of a project, separate goals or milestones.
  • Key Actions. When your project comes to an end it’s time to celebrate the success. Use the following checklist to plan for celebration:
    • Celebrate each significant milestone or goal achieved.
    • Celebrate success always with the whole team (never leave anyone out!).
    • Set date and time for a celebration event but make sure every team member is available on this date.
    • Celebrate even the smallest wins because this reinforces success.
    • Focus on quality of the work when something go wrong and you can’t dedicate an event for celebration.
    • Plan project closure celebrations carefully. You can use an event planning software application to create plans and event schedules.
    • Hold celebration parties in line with the corporate standards of your organization.
    • Consider giving some gifts or acknowledgement to those team members who have achieved significant notable accomplishments.

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