2.2 Closure tasks
The closing stages of a project need as much, if not more, attention as the early stages. Many of the final tasks in a project may seem rather tedious ‘housekeeping’ once the project's main purpose has been achieved. Nevertheless, there are a number of actions that must be taken to close the project and ensure that any necessary maintenance arrangements have been made.
Make sure that all project staff actually stop work on the project.
Make sure that payments for time and expenses are completed and discontinued.
The final review of the project must be arranged, when all of the learning that has been gained during the project is gathered together and presented.
One key task is to ensure that the client formally ‘signs off’ the project, to confirm that it has produced the outputs and outcomes that were required. There will be documents to complete to formalise the successful conclusion, and to confirm that all contractual requirements have been met. If this formal process is not gone through the client may expect ongoing response and support that should have been treated as ongoing maintenance, and not part of the project itself.
Ensure that all expenditure is accounted for in the final statement of costs. This is particularly important if the client has authorised additional expenditure that was not part of the original estimate. Clients do not always realise the extent to which small additional items of expenditure can add up to substantial sums. There should be a clear record of purchases made, shown through orders, delivery notes and payments against invoices. Any discrepancies should have explanations, supported wherever possible by evidence: in some cases it might be necessary to hold a formal financial audit. The financial accounting must be completed, and some arrangements made for outstanding unpaid invoices or left-over fixed assets or materials.
Identify the records that need to be kept beyond the life of the project, and to arrange for their storage in a way that will enable retrieval in future. These can include different contracts, letters, minutes of meetings, different versions of the project plan, staff records and other communications to be filed for future reference.