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It's Not Over Until . . . Mistake #4

Closing out a project means more than reaching the final line of the project plan. A Project Manager must lead their team through the final phases and manage both tasks and the transition of team members through the "change".

Thursday 2 April 2015

As my blog series on project success draws to a close, I wanted to share one of the common mistakes I see with some projects:

Mistake #4: Poor Project Wrap Up  

When the end is in sight, relief and excitement can overpower the need for a proper wrap up of a project.  A complete handover of deliverables, review of project performance, budget, lessons learnt, completing all documentation and reporting are just a small part in closing a project.  Then there are the project team members who need to be transitioned back to their full-time roles or redeployed into other roles and projects.  And what closure would be complete without celebrating success.  

Unfortunately all too often these details are forgotten or left to others who lack the intimate project knowledge to complete these tasks adequately.  I know because I’ve had first-hand experience at being left to “carry the can”.  

One of my early experiences left me with lasting memories of how not to complete a project.  I was working on the first phases (design end develop) of a business improvement project with a small team.  The final presentations had been made and the project manager was keen to finish up and move on to the next project.  I was left to complete documentation, much of which I had not had any involvement in developing and create a pack which could be handed over to the implementation team.  Suffice to say the transition was less than ideal and required many on-going discussions with the implementation manager as well as some re-work.  I felt jaded and disappointed in the quality of the hand-over.

In future projects I made sure that responsibilities for close-out tasks had been allocated and allowed for in the planning and scheduling.  

Task completion is not the only responsibility for project managers at close out.  Consideration must be given to the project team members and their transition back to their “day job” or onto the next project.   In many respects the project close is similar to an organisational change and team members must be supported in coping with this.  They must develop resilience and confidence to make a successful transition.  The team must also celebrate the end of the project to allow team members some form of psychological closure which will allow them to move to their next challenge.  

The temptation for some project managers is to leave the “people” responsibilities to their Human Resources Department.  Whilst HR may be able to support the project, I believe that a project manager like any manager has to be responsible for their team and take ownership of the transition of people to other roles as part of project closure.  They don’t have to facilitate this process, but must make sure it is being followed.

If you would like support in leading project closure and  transition team members contact us to discuss coaching options and programs

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