Project Management Guide
E) The Final Stop: "Project Closure"
“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” – Denis Waitley
The execution stage, by definition, indicates the last leg of the project management life cycle, but it is hardly so. Sony's Betamax cassette recording device launched in the mid-1970s makes a compelling use case.
The challenges: Even though the product was innovative, it paled in comparison to its competitors on account of high costs and poor quality. Despite dwindling sales, Sony did not stop the production of this vintage-era-like device until 2016! Despite the company incurring huge losses, they did not close the product line. This goes to show that continuing a failing product and not evaluating a project's performance after it has hit the markets can translate into a fatal mistake.
The learnings: Project execution may be the final step in a project's life cycle, but project management as a concept is ongoing – even after a project is launched. Consistent follow-ups, analysis, and evaluation are required at this stage of the project life cycle to ensure long-term success.
By extension, the fifth and final stage also comprises the following tasks:
Step 1: Creating a project punch-list of pending items and working towards completing it.
Step 2: Drafting a final project report with the renewed final project budget.
Step 3: Closing all phases of the project, terminating contractors, and rewarding valuable resources.
Step 4: Handing off deliverables.
Step 5: Conducting a "postmortem" meeting to understand the pitfalls, analyze results, summarize key learnings, and plan the next steps for future reference.
"Run project postmortem sessions, as this helps you close the feedback loop and improve. If it’s possible, run such sessions after each major stage of a project. It will help you change the focus or tweak the acceptance criteria if it is needed. Requirements of big projects can change fast, and tech people don’t like it when at the end of a project, the thing they’re working on is already outdated." – Ivailo Nikolov, SiteGround
Step 6: Organizing small events/parties to thank participants and stakeholders for their support.
Step 7: Completing all project procurements.
Step 8: Collecting all project-related documents to archive and store.
Handy tip: You can go through the book, "A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge," if you wish to understand how powerful project management tools can enable the right approach for the right project.
Summary: Manage, Organize, & Plan like a Pro!
Project management can become increasingly overwhelming or become second-nature where you're driving all the future projects with relative ease. It all depends on how you lay the foundation of the project and follow the 5-step framework demonstrated above.
For managing activities in each phase of the project lifecycle effectively, while also co-ordinating with stakeholders and teammates, adopt a project management application.
Read More: Project Management Methodologies