Using project closure tools

Introduction

This Information Sheet provides information on Topic 6: Using project closure tools.

The following information sheets are part of this series:

  • Introduction to the module
  • Topic 1: Defining adaptation objectives and activities
  • Topic 2: Developing and allocating costs
  • Topic 3: Defining benefits and effectiveness
  • Topic 4: Calculating and comparing costs and benefits
  • Topic 5: Using project implementation tools
  • Topic 6: Using project closure tools

By the end of this topic you will understand the following:

  • Discuss the elements of project closure
  • Evaluate project success (in terms of deliverables and performance)
  • Use appropriate tools to report on and close-out projects

Key themes

This is the final, and an important step in the project cycle. Typically, this is a short phase (in terms of duration) compared to the planning and definitely implementation phases.

The following are the key elements of project closure:

  • Project review of:
    • Deliverables at a programme and project level
      • Outputs
      • Indicators
      • Targets
    • Performance in terms of:
      • Time (Schedule)
      • Cost (Budget)
      • Quality
      • Risks
      • Project team
      • Communication
  • Documentation of:
    • Lessons learned
    • Project closure report
  • Handover
    • Meeting
    • Project closure report
  • Administration
    • Financial
    • Archiving of project records/documentation

Each of these will be looked at briefly.

Project review

There are two key components of a project that are reviewed, what is delivered and the performance within the project. Although many may focus on what is delivered, namely the outputs, indicators and targets, a review of the project performance is what facilitates this.

Review of deliverables

This is about whether the project has achieved the specific project objectives, indicators and targets as well as how the project has contributed to the broader programme objectives, indicators and targets.

This means that throughout the project, you should have been collecting and reporting on how the project contributes to the programme. Within the RVCC M&E framework, the minimum evidence requirements have been stipulated. Refer to these for more details.

When the project is closed out, we can then reflect on the entire project and the success/failure in this regard. This is included in the Project Closure Report that is covered in more detail later in this Information Sheet.

Now, let us look at what this means in practice, using the RVCC M&E framework.

Example

When closing a project, you would need to review the following in terms of deliverables:

  • How the existing project has/has not contributed to the programme objectives, outcomes, indicators and targets.

This is considered a high-level review. Using the RVCC M&E System (refer to Reducing vulnerability from climate change in Foothills, lower Lowlands and Senqu River Basin in Mohale’s Hoek District in Lesotho, 2015-2020) this would involve answering the following question and providing evidence of achievement.

Evidence What this means at a project level
Programme level
Projective objective To mainstream climate risk considerations in the Land Rehabilitation Programme of Lesotho for improved ecosystem resilience and reduced vulnerability of livelihoods to climate shocks. Socio-economic survey at end of 2018 & 2020. The methodology will determine whether this is done at a programme level (for example in the form of a census at the end of 2018 and 2020, which is what the evidence suggests) or data is gathered at a project level (potentially on a quarterly/annual basis, reported on, and rolled-up to a programme level).
Indicator % of community members who say climate driven vulnerabilities information is used in planning and implementation of Land Rehabilitation Programme. This should be done in 2018 and 2020 and would involve a census.
Target 83% of community members say that climate driven vulnerabilities information is used in LRP by 2020. The specific project would feed into the target and would contribute to the target set. At project level, it would be useful to know what percentage of households are participating in a specific area and a specific project would say that climate driven vulnerabilities information is used in LRP. It would provide an indication of specific areas of success and failure at a project level and allow for lessons learned to be captured.
Outcome level
Outcome 2 Communities empowered with skills, knowledge, partnerships and institutions for managing natural resources to reduce vulnerability to climate change and increased Resilience of natural and social capital. Socio-economic surveys. This would require the population in specific areas being surveyed. The methodology for this would need to be determined upfront and included in the monitoring of projects so that data is gathered over time.
Indicator
  1. % of targeted population awareness of predicted adverse impacts of climate change (data disaggregated by Council).
  2. % of households that implement strategies to respond to impacts of climate change (data disaggregated by Council).
This would require project data to be gathered by Council (rather than at a broader level) as specific targets have been set for each Council.

The data covers two components, namely awareness of and behavioural changes (strategies to respond).

Target
  1. Khoelenya Community Council – 65%
    Lithipeng Community Council – 70%
    Thaba-Mokhele Community Council – 80%
  2. Khoelenya Community Council – 55%
    Lithipeng Community Council – 53%
    Thaba-Mokhele Community Council – 72%
Output level
Output 2.2 Local community members from Lithipeng, Khoelenya, and Thaba-Mokhele Community Councils trained on the construction and maintenance of climate smart ecosystem rehabilitation and management interventions.
  • Training course reports
  • Project implementation report
At a project level:

  • Training course reports.
  • Project status reports that report around implementation on a monthly basis.
Indicator Number of local community members participating in training programmes on implementation of climate-smart ecosystem rehabilitation and management measures (data disaggregated by gender). At a project level this would have involved collecting training numbers for each training session/workshop in the different Councils, including the split in terms of gender.
Target 7000 local community members trained by 2020. The project would need to report on the number of people trained and how this contributes to the programme targets. Targets would have been set for each Council and for different projects.

Review of performance

Review of performance includes the following:

  • Time (Schedule);
  • Cost (Budget);
  • Quality;
  • Risks;
  • Project team; and
  • Communication.

The Project Closure Report, covered in the next section, provides an overview of much of this.

Documentation

As part of project closure, it is important that records are kept that document both the lessons learned as well as project closure and handover (Project Closure Report).

Lessons learned

What are lessons learned?

This documents the positive and negative experiences in a project and is part of continuous improvement in how projects are managed within the organisation. This allows the organisation, and members, to not make the same mistakes repeatedly (gained through negative experiences) and ensures that best practices (gained through positive experiences) are implemented across other projects.

Who and when should this take place?

The project manager, project team and management should participate in this activity and this does not need to take place at the end of the project. This can be done throughout the implementation as a way of managing risks in the project.

The process

The following process is recommended and each step will be discussed in turn:

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Identify In Step 1, the following should happen:

  1. Prepare for the lessons learned session. Prior to the session, ask project team members, management (etc.) to consider the these categories – project management, resources, technical, external areas, and for each, think about the following:
    1. Problem/Success
    2. Impact
    3. Recommendation
  2. Conduct the lessons learned session. It is recommended that this is not facilitated by the project manager. If this cannot be done, then someone else should write up the lessons learned.
Document In Step 2, the lessons learned are:

  1. Documented: This can be done through a report that is circulated to all participants for comment/correction, before it is finalised. It should be stored with other project documentation.
  2. Shared with stakeholders: There may be different forms of the lessons learned report shared with stakeholders, depending on their role and interest in the project. For example, a high-level summary should be provided to leadership and a lessons learned database that can be accessed electronically by project team members and those involved in programme implementation.
Analyse In Step 3, the lessons learned are analysed and consolidated under categories and taken to project meetings for action. This could include identifying gaps in competence, processes that need to be improved, changes in scheduling, etc.
Store In Step 4, the lessons learned are stored. It is recommended that this is done electronically in a shared drive rather than in a project specific drive, to allow greater access. This could be in the form of a lessons learned log in an Excel/Google sheet.
Retrieve In Step 5, the lessons learned are retrieved for current and new projects.

Project Closure Report

The purpose of the Project Closure Report is to take the steps to finalise, close-out and document the status of the project at completion.  In summary, this report:

  • Identifies the project completion criteria – in the RVCC projects, this will include both programme outputs, indicators and targets as well as the project outputs, indicators and targets (as they roll-up to a programme level);
  • Lists outstanding activities or deliverables – this could include payments to suppliers, transfer of assets, as well as specific deliverables that may be outstanding or evidence that still needs to be gathered in the project, etc.
  • Creates a plan for passing deliverables to beneficiaries.
  • Plans for the handover of project documentation – this includes to whom it will be handed over, where it will be stored, how it can be accessed going forward, etc.
  • Close-off of supplier contracts and agreements – this includes final payments to suppliers and ensuring contractual obligations have been met.
  • Releasing projects resources – this could include the transfer of project assets to the community and/or another department or organisation, depending on programme and project agreements;
  • Communicating the closure of the project – through a meeting and also the Project Closure Report. This might include communication with beneficiaries, etc.

Template: Project Closure Report[5]

Handover

Part of project closure is the final project meeting and the handover of the Project Closure Report.

The handover meeting is usually with donors/funders and project champions and sponsors within the organisation. The table of contents in the Project Closure Report typically outlines the agenda for the meeting.

Minutes of the meeting must be taken, circulated and stored as part of the close-out.

Administration

As outlined when looking at the Project Closure Report, there are many administrative tasks that need to be performed as part of closing a project.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial transactions – for example, final payments to contractors/service providers, the transfer of assets acquired during the project, etc.
  • Archiving – this includes the storage of project records/documentation both electronically and in hard copy.

 

Additional support material

Template: Project Closure Report

RVCC Integrated Project Monitoring and Evaluation System.

References

Burke, R. 2017. Fundamentals of Project Management: Tools and Techniques. Everbest, HK/China: Burke Publishing.

Burke, R. 2010. Project management techniques (college edition).Everbest, HK/China: Burke Publishing

DPM. n.d. Why and How to Document Lessons Learned (With Bonus Lessons Learned Template) [Online] At: https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/project-management-lessons-learned-template/

https://view.officeapps.live.com/op/view.aspx?src=http://pmicie.org/images/downloads/project_closure_report.docx

Orotin, P. (2017, December). Reducing vulnerability from climate change in Foothills, lower Lowlands and Senqu River Basin in Mohale’s Hoek District in Lesotho, 2015-2020.

Rowe, S. F. & Sikes, S. 2006. Lessons learned: taking it to the next level. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2006—North America, Seattle, WA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute. [Online] At: https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/lessons-learned-next-level-communicating-7991

Key terms  

Closing The final phase in the project.
Deliverables This refers to the outputs or targets that have been achieved at a programme and project level.
Indicator A quantitative or qualitative variable (factor) that provides a reliable and valid measurement of achievement or reflects performance or changes from the current state.
Performance This refers to performance of the project team in terms of managing time, cost and quality, the management of risks, communication with stakeholders, etc.
Risk An uncertain event or condition in a project, that if it comes about, will affect one or more project objective.
Social capital This refers to the ‘the links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and so work together.’