Project Closure Phase

Review the experiences from the project and use those experiences to improve future projects.

It is not to measure benefits achieved unless these are immediately delivered when the project went live. Often benefits are not realised until some months after go live. Benefit realisation is not part of this phase.

Plan Phase Hold Kick Off Meeting Carry out Project Implementation Review (PIR) Identify and Allocate Actions from the PIR
Archive Project Documentation Close Project        
  • Documentation produced during the project
  • Project Implementation Review (PIR) Report
  • Action items to improve future projects
This activity should be completed as soon after implementation and handover as possible. The project team will quickly disperse, and contract staff may leave. It is important to seek their views before they move on. A typical PIR will take somewhere between one and three weeks to complete depending on the size of the project, and availability of resources.
  • External resource to carry out the review
  • Project Team
  • Users of the system

The level of maturity of the organisation will determine the effort that goes into the PIR. If the company has a "file and forget" mentality, there is probably not much point in carrying out a PIR. Nothing will change. If on the other hand the organisation is mature enough to learn from their past, a recommendation focused PIR is an essential activity and cannot be cut back.

The other variable is the benefit realisation. As with a PIR it will depend on the maturity of the organisation and the timing of the benefits. If benefits are delivered from day one, they can be included in this phase. If they are not evident for a period, that activity may need to happen after the project concludes.

It is important to have someone external to the project carry out the review. A self assessment risks hiding information that is unpalatable. Someone from outside the company without a biased position is usually the best resource to look objectively at the project.

Usually a mix of individual interviews, workshops and surveys can be used to identify:

  • What worked well and how can we reuse it in the future
  • What didn't work well and how could we do it better in the future
  • How the solution was received by the users
  • How the objectives of the project were fulfilled (if this information is available)

When deciding how to gather information, consider the following:

  • Individual interviews are better for getting unbiased information but will usually throw up contradictions which need to be resolved
  • Workshops tend to give a "group view" that is subject to hierarchical influences and can be dominated by the loudest people.
  • Surveys are good to reach a large number of people (e.g. All users) but often raise more questions than they answer unless they are well designed. Piloting the questionnaire is often a good technique. Also bringing on board a market researcher to help with the questionnaire can be useful.

The most important question for a PIR is what will happen to recommendations? A list of actions is of no use unless someone is going to manage the completion of the actions. Unless there is a clear owner of the actions arising from the PIR, there is no point in undertaking the work.

The PIR may or may not include a review of benefits delivered. Sometimes the benefits cannot be measured until well after the project is complete. The issue of benefit realisation should be discussed with the Sponsor prior to the review taking place. It may be appropriate to include benefits or it may be more appropriate to pass them over to another area (e.g. Internal Audit or Finance) to review at some time in the future.

Schedule Gantt Chart A draft Microsoft Project plan for the phase. It lists activities and elapsed timeframes. Times are very approximate and may be significantly shorter or longer.
Learning from our Mistakes Value in carrying out a PIR and learning lessons from a project.

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