What do we do to wrap up the project? Winding a project down properly takes some time and planning. We need to make sure we have met the customer’s goals. If we have been communicating with the stakeholders through the whole process we should know where we are and what completion looks like. The final phase is a good time to review any mistakes and successes and put together any concluding reports.
I met someone who had decided to go on a long vacation while her house was being built. She left for a few weeks and came back to a few things that didn’t seem correct. She had spoken to her contractor before the trip. Thinking things were understood, unfortunately, she had to make some changes to get it completed the way she wanted. Having constant communication throughout the project is important to success and customer acceptance.
Are you communicating with your stakeholders? Giving the constant status updates and completion timelines can help create a smooth customer acceptance. When timelines are important it is also helpful to relay the fact that you may need quick decisions on things to keep the project moving forward.
Having a final walk through of the deliverables can ensure everyone is on the same page. If you are delivering software to the marketing department you don’t want any last minute surprises. They should be expecting what you have been working toward and this meeting hopefully has no surprises.
I have never worked on a project that I didn’t think we could have made some improvements. As we try to complete various tasks we learn a lot. Perhaps we find we should have changed the task order or utilized someone’s expertise. Try and keep a list of lessons learned throughout the project. If you don’t you will more than likely forget quite a few.
Convening a lessons learned meeting as the project is wrapping up is a good time to get everyone’s input. On most projects, you will have a myriad of different people involved. For instance, in some projects the DBA and infrastructure people are involved in the beginning or the end. Include as many support people as you can in your meeting, they have valuable feedback you will want to consider.
In conjunction with the lessons learned, you may be required to create a final report. Even if it is not necessary it can help draw everything together. Documenting some of the steps you took during the project and key decisions can be helpful down the road as new people may be working on or with some of the deliverables. I find this a lot with software applications, we may make some decisions to complete something quickly that later may make people ask questions why it was done in such a fashion.
Is there documentation that needs to accompany the final report? Make sure it is complete and covers all the sections. Recently I was helping a company with a product another firm produced and the documentation was incomplete. Having a step to review any documentation before it is officially handed over can eliminate some future headaches.
Who is going to be responsible for the deliverables from the project? Make sure they have any training and documentation. It might be as simple as walking the operations people through the process. Some projects might need some support during this phase to make sure the transition process is smooth.
Once you have pulled it all together and finished everything on your punch list it is time to celebrate the team’s accomplishments. Even if your not one for a party make sure your team knows you appreciate their effort. If everyone works for the same company perhaps you can take an afternoon off and see a movie or go bowling. When you have multiple companies involved try to arrange something for as many people who can make it in a central location. I know that isn’t always possible so maybe you can recognize all who contributed in another way.
How do you close down your projects?
What do you do to ensure a smooth transition?