6.2. Project closure
Project closure is the final phase of the project lifecycle. This is the stage where all deliverables are finalised and formally transferred, and all documentation is signed off, approved, and archived.
The process is often perceived as a tedious administrative task done in a hurry in order to move on to the next project. However, this risks diminishing the importance and the value that an effective project closure does have.
Closing a project is a crucial step in providing accurate data for analysing its performance and impact and ensuring that success factors and mistakes are captured, learned and used constructively in future projects.
While it is the duty of the project manager to lead this task, the whole project team must be part of the closing process so that everyone can offer their observations and feedback.
It is extremely important that this phase of a project is properly planned as well as all the others in order to ensure an effective handover of results, documents, etc.
Properly closing a project is particularly important as it demonstrates and ensures that:
- you have completed all work according to the project plan and scope,
- you have executed all project management processes,
- you have received final sign-off and approval of deliverables from all parties,
- you have released the resources from the project, such as people, hardware, and contractors,
- you capture the wins and weaknesses of the project. This can be particularly helpful for future projects, as you can refer back to previous ones to see what worked well and what did not,
- you have developed a plan guaranteeing the sustainability of the completed project,
- you can show the donor your reliability and commitment to effectively implement and complete projects.
Steps to follow
- Finalise and transfer all the project deliverables to the donor. Go through your Grant Agreement to identify all deliverables and make sure they have been fully completed and handed off.
- Review all documents produced during the implementation of the project. Check that all contracts (internal and external) have been signed off, that all timesheets have been collected and that all payments have been done – it’s not done if it’s not paid for!
- Formally release resources from the project, including suppliers, contractors, team members, and any other partners. Notify them of the end of the project, confirm any final payments or obligations, and officially release them so they are free to work on other projects.
- Complete a final evaluation to assess the successes, failures, and challenges of the project and identify opportunities for improvement in the future.
- Produce the final narrative and financial reports following the donor’s guidelines.
- Archive documents. Make sure that everything is recorded and collected properly. This will enable you to always have the lessons learned and the knowledge gained during the project’s implementation at your disposal as well as to be always ready in case of an audit.
- Review the retention policy for all project related materials.
- Do a proper dissemination of project results. This consists in promoting the project results and generating a positive “multiplier effect” so that what has been achieved is useful and inspiring for other interventions.
- Develop a sustainability plan that will ensure the continued use of your project outputs.