By Shaun H. Ajani
It seethes in anticlimax.
It is like the Pro Bowl. The players are there; the coaches are there; in-fact all the stakeholders, including the fans are there. But something is not the same. It feels like tasting something stale. I am, of course, talking about the Project Closure Phase.
In projects that do not respect an exacting stance for proper methodology, the Project Closure Phase is neglected. This is even the case in huge corporations with proper Project Management methodologies. It is indeed the Phantom Phase that lingers on for a while, and when nobody steps up and takes responsibility for its execution, it effervesces into nothingness, abandoning some important aspects of the project, such as Weighted Critical Measurements (WCM), Issues, Reviews, and Client Permissions.
WCM indicates to us the success of the project by comparing the initial business requirements of the project to the final deliverables at the close of the project. Appropriate weights are assigned to the deliverables according to their significance to the critical functionality of the final product. For example, a deliverable that is produced for its cosmetic appearance, such as an aesthetic color scheme of a corporate website, might be appointed a weight of 1, from a scale of 1 being the least essential to the success of the project, and 10 being the most significant.
The end of the project is also a good time to consolidate all project issues in one common log. As the project is now over, these issues then become a placeholder for the project sponsor to allocate resources to undertake resolution. It is also important to keep in mind that this is a good point to make to a client for the need of additional projects, such as "Phase II" of the recently completed project, thus ensuring a mutual benefit to the client and the consulting company.
Most companies conduct end of the year reviews for their employees, but a staff resource review, specifically designed for that project can generate invaluable information, not only about the employee, but also how the project gets staffed in the future. The company can specifically match the resource with the type of project for maximum efficiently and effectiveness.
I also make it a habit to prepare an extensive client project profile right before leaving the client site. While my performance is still fresh in the client's mind, I like to secure permission of the client to use as a reference, based on that project profile. A client testimony is many times more valuable then a paid advertisement. I am fortunate to work for a company that has an extensive base of templates and precise, yet flexible, methodology to tackle all phases of the project. However, if you are not so blessed, do not let these things stop you from creating your own methodology.
A few years ago, I was deeded to oversee four multi-million dollar projects for Dollar Stores in West Texas. As an independent contractor, I was without the benefit of a corporate backed methodology. However, by proper analysis of the client needs, we had an ad hoc methodology, with all phases of the Project Management, including Project Closure, within three months.
When you reach the end of a project, start using your resources, such as Technical Writers and Project Coordinators to create templates for Project Closure. This will expedite the Project Closure Phase, ensure that important aspects of the project are efficiently tied up, and signal the project sponsor to start assessing the resources for other undertakings and endeavors.
Shaun H. Ajani is a Technical Manager with Spherion, in the Chicago area. Shaun is an internationally published author, and has written many articles and books. His latest book, "If You Row, You Will Not Drift" is a book about Life Management. Shaun has worked with aviation, IT, retail, HR, finance, education, and training industries, in companies like Motorola, Dollar Stores, Nation Gifts, Code Factory, Washington Mutual, Boise Cascade, Sears, and Spherion.