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Project closure (Term Paper Sample)

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The paper discusses the importance of project closure in project management.

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Content:
Outline
Title Page Number
Introduction …………………………………………………………….......2
Types of Project Closures………………………………………………...2
Project closure……………………………………………………………..3
Wrap up activities………………………………………………………….3
Project Evaluation………………………………………………………….5
Retrospectives………………………………………………………………6
Conclusion……………………………………………………………………8

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Project Closure
Introduction
It is inevitable that any project will eventually come to completion. Most project participants are hardly excited by the closure, since the outcomes have been achieved and the ownership handed over (Gray and Larson 505). Most of them focus on the next upcoming projects or other ventures. However, handling this closure phase in a project is vital for any organization. This closure phase involves various daunting tasks and all the project participants including the project office, manager, teams, an independent facilitator and an oversight committee are needed.
Types of Project Closures
Projects closures are of different types as discussed below:
Normal
This is the most common type of closure and happens when the project comes into completion. In developmental projects, the end is symbolized by the successful launch of a new service or product. In IT projects, such as those involving creation of a new system or an upgrade of an old one, the end is characterized by incorporation of the output into the current operations (Gray and Larson 506).
Premature
Sometimes, a project might end earlier than intended with some parts of the project being eliminated. An example is an organization may decide to launch a new product before testing it to beat other competitors. This form of closure is risky, since the benefits are dangerous, illusionary and short-lived (Gray and Larson 506).
Perpetual
Some projects are endless, as they have constant add-ons, which is a clear indication of poorly conceived projects. Reviewers of perpetual projects must formulate a plan to bring ultimate closure of such projects instead of adding other new features (Gray and Larson 507).
Failed Project
Failed projects do not achieve the laid down objectives, necessitating immediate closure. The failure of the project is attributed to circumstances that are beyond the project team control. It is important to communicate the reasons behind the termination of the project, to prevent the participants from being vilified and stigmatized (Gray and Larson 507).
Changed Priority
Priorities in an organization often change, necessitating a shift in strategy. For example during an economic downturn, most companies will focus more on cost saving rather than money generating projects. Some ongoing projects that do not conform to this strategy may be canceled, put on hold or altered (Gray and Larson 507).
Project Closure
There are three major steps in closing a project as discussed below.
Wrap up Activities
The main activity in the wrap-up step is to make sure the customer has approved and accepted the project. They are various wrap up activities such as paying bills, reassigning personnel and equipment, closing off accounts and producing the closing report. Most wrap up activities are tedious and motivation is a major challenge at this point. It is challenging for the project manager to keep the team focused on finishing the outstanding activities, until the project is complete and delivered to the customers (Gray and Larson 507).
It is thus important that a review of the closure schedule and plan is communicated early enough to the project team. This helps the team members to be psychologically prepared that the project will eventually come to an end and assist them to move on. Most organizations have formulated a closure checklist for the wrap up tasks. As earlier stated, the acceptance of the product by the customer is the most critical and essential project activity. It is therefore important to lay down the conditions for finishing and handing over the project before project commencement. Letting go off the project team is a gradual process that happens during the closure phase. Some people’s responsibilities end before the project is handed over to the customers and reassignment of such individuals must be carried out before the final completion date (Gray and Larson 508).
Closing of contracts is usually tricky since invoices are submitted after the official closure of the project. Some invoices may not have been billed, paid or finalized by the closure date. At times, paperwork and records can be overlooked at this stage, as people concentrate on beating deadlines. However, this should not be the case as challenges can arise during the final documentation or in case of a lawsuit. It is essential to complete all the wrap activities to avoid any problems that crop up later (Gray and Larson 510).
One of the mandatory wrap up activity is writing a final report that summarizes the performance of the project and any other important information (Gray and Larson 510). The final report consists the executive summary section, which summarizes the key findings and achievements of the project; the review and analysis section that gives the analysis of the data collected; the recommendation section that gives solutions to the problems encountered; the lessons learned section that discusses what the team participants learnt during project implementation and lastly the appendix section that includes back up data and other pertinent information.
Project Evaluation
This is the second step in project closure and involves evaluating the performance of individual team members, the team and the project manager. This evaluation involves assessing how all the above parties performed. Most team evaluations are centered on cost and time specifications, although they should go beyond this and include group cohesion, group decision effectiveness, problem solving procedures, team building skills and group trust (Gray and Larson 511). Teams are evaluated through surveys conducted by the human resource department, a consultant or an online survey. Most surveys only allow team members to participate in the survey although in some cases, they may include other stakeholders who work together with the team. After the tabulation of the results, the team meets and discusses the outcome in what is considered a team building event (Gray and Larson 513).
Individual evaluation of team members is normally carried out by the area manager, who consults the project manager on the performance of an individual in the project. This performance is factored in the individuals overall performance (Gray and Larson 514). Another evaluation method is whereby the individual performance is jointly evaluated by the project and area manager. The 360-degree feedback that entails asking for feedback on an individual performance from a wide range of stakeholders including peers, customers, subordinates, is becoming quite popular (Gray and Larson 516). These individual appraisals help in identifying individual weaknesses and strengths and in determining merit or salary adjustments. The person carrying out the evaluation must sit don with every member of the team and discuss their performance. The project manager needs to constantly give feedback to team members during the project implementation, as this gives individuals a glimpse of the manager’s feelings before the formal meeting. The360-degree feedback is used in evaluating project managers as project officers gather information on a particular manager from team members, other managers, peers and customers. This approach aims at building up efficient project managers (Gray and Larson 516).
Retrospectives
This is the third most important step in project closure. The lessons learned consist of an analysis taken during and immediately after the project end, in an effort to capture the negative and positive lessons learnt from the project (Gray and Larson 516). Although the lessons learned are a component of any project, most organizations never exploit their true value since they are hardly used as guidance in other future projects. Some of the reasons why the reasons learned are under utilized include; they are hardly captured due to lack of time, even when captured, th...
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