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For a lot of people, the project completion is a beautiful moment. It’s a chance to breathe, catch up, and maybe even stretch your legs. But, project managers, those long-suffering champions of organization and planning, seeing those final deliverables doesn’t mean they’re done with a project.
More often than not, they’ve still got a few loose ends to tie up. They need to make sure that everyone did what they should be doing, that the final costs match the initial project budget, that they have to get final approval from the stakeholders, and they have to stick around to fill out the final bits of paperwork connected to the project (sounds like fun, right?).
One of the more important things they do is the project closeout and, luckily, we have a project closeout template you can use to tackle this one last challenge.
What is a project closeout document?
A project closeout document is the final part of the project to make sure that everything has been done, all the milestones have been hit, the deliverables are all accounted for, and the stakeholders are happy. This document is usually a checklist that the project manager runs through to make sure that everything has been covered. It brings peace of mind that everything has been completed and it gives you something to use as the basis for a post-mortem.
It’s meant to give project managers a way to reflect on how the project went compared to how it was planned, it helps identify any issues with the process and blockers that you may have encountered, plus it’s a good way to assess how well the team worked together to reach the end.
What is a project closeout template?
A project closeout template is a document that summarises all the details you need to cover during the final stages of the project lifecycle. Project closeout formats vary from one project and company to another, but always include key details like deliverables and stakeholder approval (and a sign-off).
The project closeout template lets you create a list of everything project managers need to cover before officially closing the project. This list should be a mix of comparing plans vs. outcomes, stakeholder approvals and sign-offs, and assessing team effectiveness.
8 steps for a successful project closure
As mentioned, a successful project closure is going to look a little different for each project, but the end result is always to make sure that you haven’t left any loose threads. The template makes sure that you’re going through all the bits and pieces for a successful project closure. Templates help because by the time you’re done, you may have spent months on a project and it’s possible that you’ve forgotten some of what was involved.
Let’s take a look at what you should include in your project closure template.
1. Describe project deliverables & ensure project specifications are met
First, walk through the project deliverables. What was outlined at the beginning of the project? Were those objectives met? Did anything change during the project? How did the final product compare to the original plans?
Answering these questions gives you a way to create better plans for the next time you run the project. Even if nothing changed, knowing how the end lined up with your plans initially helps because you can create a template for similar projects the next time they come up.
2. Get client approval
This is kind of an obvious step and has likely already happened if you’ve reached the end of the project, but your closeout should include final approval from the client. If nothing else, it gives you a formalized confirmation of the success of the project and that everything was completed to their satisfaction, which is why you’re running the project in the first place. This is a good time to have one final meeting with the client, as well, to see if there is anything that could be improved on for next time.
3. Close all contracts
Did you have to bring in any contractors for the project? If you did, be sure to close out the contract. You don’t really want to have your contractor hanging in limbo, unsure about whether or not you still need them to do any work.
A quick email is often all you’ll need to let them know that things are all done. It also lets you thank them for their time and gives you a chance to connect about other projects you may have.
4. Analyze project performance
How did the project go? Was it a smooth ride or more like driving down a long, bumpy road that no one’s ever driven on before? Closeout is a good time for a project review where you look at your metrics and analyze the flow of everything. If there were major blockers in the project, you’ll likely find them during this phase of the project. If you had a rock star team, you’ll be able to make a note of that for the next time.
By analyzing the performance of the project, you give yourself room to improve on things that didn’t go well, give yourself a baseline that helps you capture the things that went right for future projects.
5. List project highlights
Make a list of everything that either went or that your team members knocked out of the part. This gives you a way to feel great about the project and it gives you a way to help show the project team that they really did good with this one. It also helps you learn where the strengths of your team are.
6. Define lessons learned and write recommendations
It’s nearly impossible to go through a project without learning a thing or two along the way. It could be something about the specific deliverables and what it takes to put those together, it could be about how well designed the workflow was (or wasn’t), it could be something about the tools you were using. Whatever the lessons were, write detailed project documentation when closing a project and capture them in the closing document. Write out recommendations for dealing with those things next time (we’ve got a template that can help you figure out what these lessons were ).
Listing out the lessons you’ve learned is a good way to ensure that you remember and take something away from the project, especially if things didn’t go according to plan. Now, if you encounter the same scenario again, you’ll have a better idea of what you can do to navigate the situation.
7. Archive project plan
When the project is done, you can go ahead and file the project plan away in your archives. Keep it somewhere you can refer back to, but you don’t need it around in your active projects area anymore.
8. Write project closure report
Finally, take everything you’ve just done and write your closure report. This should cover all the details of the project and provide a clear sense of how successful the project was (or wasn’t).
👉 Get started with this project closeout template.
After you copy this template, you can start utilizing this free project closeout template for your projects and business.
How to use Coda’s project closeout template
Step 1: Add project approvers and project details
On the page, you should rename the main page title to reflect your project name. You can also edit who is the preparer of this project closeout document. The “Last edit date” will automatically update. In order for this project closeout template to be accepted by all proper stakeholders, add approvers to the list of approvers by clicking the Add Approver button. Finally, write the details about this project under the “Project Summary” heading.
Step 2: Edit deliverables and milestones
Any project closeout template will compare what you planned on doing (at the beginning of the project) with the actual results. Add the major deliverables for this project by clicking the Add Deliverable button. For each deliverable, you can assign an owner as well as pick the associated milestones for that deliverable (see the table right below the table on the page. You’ll notice that you can select multiple milestones from the table in the Associated Milestones column. In the table, add the individual milestones that helped you achieve the different deliverables. You can also add project costs: the Budgeted Cost and Actual Cost for each milestone to see which milestones went above or below your plan. Depending on the structure of your project, you may not need a table and the table is sufficient for your needs
Step 3: Add lessons learned and ask for approvals
To finish the project closeout template, write the lessons your team has learned from this project. This acts as a good reference for future projects so that you don’t repeat the same mistakes again (and apply best practices to future projects). You should also send out the project closeout template to all the approvers listed in step 1. These approves should click the Approve or Remove Approval button to indicate their acceptance (or rejection) of the project closeout report.
Final closeout checklist to end your project on a high note
The best project managers always make time to double-check their work after filling out the project closeout report and ensure all objectives are met and within set expectations. Finalize your work by ticking off the 5 items on this checklist & then you’ll know you’re ready to close out the project:
Compare planned deliverables with actual deliverables Compare planned milestones with actual milestones Make sure everyone’s on board with the closeout report
Project closeout template FAQs
What is a project closeout checklist?
A project closeout checklist is a checklist that walks you through the final stages of the project and makes sure that you don’t forget about anything. It helps speed up the closeout process and gives you an easy reference guide. These checklists should be flexible enough to cover the various types of projects that you work on and make a good basis for a project closeout template.
What information does the project closeout report include?
We’ve covered this a little already, but the project closeout report should include a summary of everything that happened within the project. This includes deliverables, a comparison of plans versus outcome, lessons learned, highlights, and anything else that might be good to know. The project closeout checklist should help you cover everything that you need to know for the report.
What is the time frame for a project closeout?
Ideally, you should do this as soon as possible after a project wraps, PMI recommends doing so . You want to be able to recall as clearly as possible all the details of the project. And, you don’t want this last little piece of the project to linger on your to-do list for months.
What is the difference between closeout and closure?
There isn’t one. How you refer to the end of the project is going to vary between organizations. Sometimes they use project closeout, sometimes it’s closure.
What are the different types of project closeouts?
There are a few different ways that a project can be closed out. The kind of closure largely depends on the success of the project. They can be broken down like this:
Normal - the project ended the way it was supposed to. Premature - the project ended early, but all the work is done and everyone’s happy. Perpetual - for whatever reason, the project keeps getting extended and never seems to end. Changed priorities - the project is canceled because of changes made within the company Failed - the project was either canceled or completed, but considered a failed project because it didn’t work out as hoped.
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