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5.0       Closing


The purpose of this section is to formalize the acceptance of the project or phase and bring it to an orderly end.


After either achieving its objectives or being terminated for other reasons, the project or phase requires closure. From the beginning the project must know its completion criteria, the difference between a completed or an uncompleted project, to stop a project from dragging on endlessly.  (See the project’s Product Description and the Integrated Project Plan documents.) Project closing consists of verifying the project’s completion criteria have been met, and the Project Evaluation Report and, if necessary, the Project Close-out Transition Checklist (used to roll a project into maintenance and document Lessons Learned) have been compiled and archived into the project archives to retain this information for use on future endeavors. These criteria typically indicate that a project has delivered the specified product, though usually there are several loose ends to wrap-up.  Before a project is considered complete and resources are released the project must wrap-up loose ends such as:

·         Verifying that all deliverables have in fact been delivered and approved.

·         Outstanding issues are assigned for closure.

·         Lessons are documented as to what went well (to repeat in the future) and not so well (mistakes to avoid).

·         Coordinating with the maintenance manager to ensure maintenance personnel is assigned and familiar with all aspects of the product release.

·         Ensure that control over future components (change requests) has passed to the maintenance manager and user support is in place.

·         Formalizing acceptance of the product by the sponsor, client, or customer.



  • To ensure all stakeholders agree the product or service is acceptable by signing a formal written document during the project‘s phase completion or close-out.
  • To ensure the appropriate stakeholders agree the contractor’s product or service is acceptable by signing a formal written document during the project ‘s phase completion or close-out.
  • To complete a comprehensive project evaluation.
  • To verify the project’s completion criteria, including business transition efforts, were met.
  • To recognize project team and celebrate project closure.
  • If applicable, to ensure outstanding issues are passed to appropriate personnel with a follow up or maintenance plan.
  • To indicate how to roll the project into maintenance or to close the project.
  • To document final lessons learned to provide repeatable and avoidable activities/tasks for future projects.
  • To ensure all project documents, e.g., project evaluation, lessons learned and other valuable information is archived.

Closing Lessons


Common lessons learned from skipping or poorly executing the closing phase are:

·         Failure to obtain sponsor signoff created the never-ending project.

·         Poor close-out has caused problems with transitioning projects into maintenance or programs and this causes the inability or a low capability to maintain the product.

·         Lack of a project data repository (I.e., project books and archived lessons learned) to prevent future projects from repeating similar mistakes made on other projects.

·         Indecision by the customer if the project accomplished what it set out to do.

·         Outstanding issues were dropped or later became bigger problems to deal with.

·         Failure to reward/acknowledge team successes caused low morale problems making the reassignment of staff problematic.

Input to Closing

  1. Performance measurement documentation. All documentation produced to record and analyze project performance, including the planning documents that established the framework for performance measurement, must be available for review during administrative closure.
  2. Documentation of the product of the project. Documents produced to describe the product of the project (plans, specifications, technical documentation, drawings, electronic files, etc.-the terminology varies by application area) must also be available for review during administrative closure.
  3. Contract documentation. Contract documentation includes, but is not limited to, the contract itself along with all supporting schedules, requested and approved contract changes, any seller-developed technical documentation, seller performance reports, financial documents such as invoices and payment records, and the results of any contract-related inspections.
  4. Other project records.

Closing -Process Activities

The process is a course of proven actions used to guide the organization through Project Closing.  Customer relationship, understanding of support roles, and sustenance of the developed product as well as performing these activities has been proven to increase the quality of future projects. 

Remember  - The closing process overlaps with other processes

Typically during the initial stage of the Closing phase the amount of work activity and staff is declining.  Remember the Closing process overlaps the other processes as depicted below.  Many times it is necessary to do some of the Closing work (I.e. closing contracts, documenting Lessons Learned and compiling this information for the Project Evaluation Report) during the end of the Controlling and Executing stages to ensure the success of the project’s closure.

Text Box: Level of Activity


Closing Process Activities Diagram

The project management process activities are diagramed then followed by brief description of each activity.  The diagram is numbered to correspond to the “Project Management – Overview Reference” located in the Introduction of this process guide.  The overview represents closing as a single project management step (#20) because most of the project management closing work is not serial.  However, for reading purposes we have broken this single step into two distinct sub steps.

A description of the project management sub steps follows the diagram.  A sub step title is indicated in bold in the left-hand column. 

The actual work activities to be closed by the teams are defined in the Project Evaluation Reports.  The standard templates for Project Evaluation Reports can be found in the closing templates section of this guide.



20.  Close Project Plan Activities

This process step has two sub steps that are worked together to manage and coordinate Administrative Closure and Contract Close-out.  Keep in mind that the project closing process does overlap the Project Control and Execution processes – meaning that during the project’s Closing process, the project management team is also performing Project Control and Execution activities.  So during the final phase of building the products of the project – several project management process activities are occurring to ensure the project’s success. All of the accomplishments, open issues, and lessons should be wrapped up in the Project Evaluation Report during the Closing phase of the project and then archived.

20.1 Administrative Closure

(Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned Checklist)

The project manager must ensure that the administrative processes achieve proper closure and that the project has delivered the desired product or service to ascertain the project’s success.

To successfully close-out a project, the Administrative and Formal Acceptance documents, including relevant Transition Checklists to roll an application into operations/maintenance, must be agreed to and signed by the appropriate parties to finalize the Administrative processes. These agreements, along with the Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned must then be archived in the standard project directory. Archiving project documents will increase the department’s knowledge aptitude for use on future projects.


Contract Close-out

(Contract Close-out)

Contract Close-out could begin during the planning stage and continue into the close out of the project depending upon the type of contractors used on the project. 

The goal of Contract Close-out is to ascertain the finality of all project contracts. Completing this sub process provides the project the added quality assurance needed to simplify audits especially if Contract Close-out Templates for each contractor are added to the project book and then archived.

Contract Close-out should maintain strong links to the Planning, Executing and Controlling processes and to all related contract documents and to the project’s procurement and contract process.

See Contract and Procurement Management Plan Template.

20.3 APD Close-out

If project was federally funded, the APD closing process must be executed before the project can be closed.

Output from Closing

  1. Project archives. A complete set of indexed project records should be prepared for archiving by the appropriate parties. Any project-specific or program-wide historical databases pertinent to the project should be updated. When projects are done under contract or when they involve significant procurement, particular attention must be paid to archiving of financial records.
  2. Formal acceptance. Documentation that the client or sponsor has accepted the product of the project (or phase) should be prepared and distributed.
  3. (Phase end) Lessons learned.
  4. Contract file. A complete set of indexed contract records should be prepared for inclusion with the final project records. The Contract and Procurement Management Plan Template recommends a standard filing index for project records.
  5. Formal acceptance and closure.  The person or organization responsible for contract administration should provide the seller with formal written notice that the contract has been completed. Requirements for formal acceptance and closure are usually defined in the contract. – PMBOK.

Tools and Techniques

  1. Performance reporting tools and techniques. (Outputs of information for closing).
  2. Lessons learned facilitation. The key team player should facilitate the lessons learned session to provide and record various perspectives using the Lessons Learned Template.






















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