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The last major phase of a project's life cycle is the Close-out. Closing a project should be a fairly routine process. This is because you've documented everything you need along the way, haven't you?

The key elements of project close-out are:

  • Accepting the project's products indicated by user sign-off
  • Conducting a final lessons-learned session
  • Completing a post project evaluation report
  • Completing and archiving project records

  Policy and Standards

  All projects should:

  1. Use a Standard Project Process, as-is or as-tailored to meet project-specific requirements,
  2. Obtain approval for any project-specific tailoring of a Standard Project Process,
  3. Document any project-specific tailoring of a Standard Project Process,
  4. Perform project acitivities according to the project's Defined Process,
  5. Collect and store appropriate project examples and measurement data for future use,
  6. Use and maintain a documented and approved project development plan as the basis for tracking actual results and performance of the project,
  7. Keep the Project Manager informed of the project's status and issues,
  8. Take corrective actions, such as adjusting performance or adjusting the plans, when the project plan is not being achieved,
  9. Manage the corrective actions to closure,
  10. Make changes to the project commitments with the involvement and agreement of the affected groups, such as engineering, estimating, systems integration, testing, quality assurance, configuration management, contract management, and documentation support, and
  11. Ensure that senior management reviews all commitment changes and new commitments made to individuals and groups external to the organization.s made to individuals and groups external to the organization.


  The responsibilities for Project Close-Out are summarized below:

  • Project Managers are responsible for obtaining formal project acceptance from the project sponsor and/or stakeholders
  • Project Managers are responsible for capturing and documenting lessons learned throughout the life of the project
  • Project Managers are responsible for preparing and distributing the post project evaluation report
  • Project Managers are responsible for ensuring the completion and archiving of project records.

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Obtain Project Acceptance

Project Acceptance is a formal process by which the Project Manager presents the final product and ensures that the sponsor and/or users agree that the project has been completed to their satisfaction. The Project Manager should prepare a draft of the final project status report, documenting the completion of the project and any outstanding issues. The sponsor and any required users should carefully review the final status report and work with the project team to address issues that must be resolved before the product can be accepted. The Project Manager should update the final status report and obtain a formal sign-off from the project sponsor and any required stakeholders.

Capture Lessons-Learned

Formally documenting lessons-learned is essential to improving the project management methodology of the organization. While lessons-learned should be captured throughout the life of the project, they are formally discussed and presented as part of the Post-Project Evaluation (see next step). Lessons-learned should identify areas of proven excellence as well as opportunities for improvement.

Post-Project Evaluation

The post project evaluation report documents the history of the project. It provides a record of the planned and actual budget and schedule. The report also contains recommendations for other projects of similar size and scope. A key element of the report is a consolidated presentation of any lessons learned collected during the life of the project.

The evaluation report should contain the following information as appropriate:

  • Project organization including staffing and skills
  • Project schedules
  • Successful risk assessment and mitigation techniques (i.e., what risks occurred and what techiques were used to mitigate these risks)
  • Processes used for change control, quality, and configuration management
  • Techniques used for project communications
  • Techniques used for handling customer expectations
  • Success factors and how they were met
  • Financial data
  • Recommendations to future project managers
  • Lessons learned, the good and the bad

Archive Project Records

Following the prepearation of the post project evaluation report, project records should be archived. Historic project data is an important source of information to help improve future projects.

Typically, the following project data is archived:
  • The post project evaluation report
  • Project plan
  • Project correspondence
  • Relevant meeting notes
  • Status reports
  • Contract files
  • Technical documents
  • Information that had been placed under configuration management

Learn more! If you would like to learn more about the Project Management Framework or have any questions, please contact the Ball of Gold Project Office.

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