Every project no matter how complex it may be will eventually come to the end of its lifecycle. One of the most significant documents that have to be submitted once a project reaches its end is the Project Closure Report.
The Project Closure Report is the final document produced upon the completion of a project. The report details everything to do with the project is often used by the various stakeholders involved in the project to assess the success of the project. Besides the assessment of the project’s success, the document is also an invaluable tool to use for identifying the best practices to ensure that all future projects go on smoothly.
Writing a Project Closure Report is not as simple as it seems. There are key steps to be followed. The steps relate to a specific part of the project and must be followed to the dot for effective results. Here are the steps to help you write your Project Closure Report.
1. Give The Project Overview Including A Summary Statement
The first step to writing this project closing document is to give your general overview of the whole project and the summary statement. An overview statement is a brief description of what the project was about. It looks at the ‘what’ side of a project. It looks at what needed to be done during the project and how it was actually done. In addition, an overview looks into and describes things like the Opportunity/Problem, Goal, and Objective, Success Criteria and any risks or assumptions about the project.
On the other hand, the summary statement of the project in a Project Closure report will be looking at the overall summary of what’s in the report. One important thing to note is the key difference between the project overview and the summary statement. The overview is about the project, its scope, and the activities that were done and the summary statement is about the report itself and things contained in the report.
2. Describe The Results And Outcomes Of The Project
Before you set out to do your project, chances are, you first wrote down your key performance and indicators and key targets. In addition to the KPI’s, another thing you probably had was outcome targets. On this section, the goal is to look at the whole project in relation to the Key Performance Indicators that you would have set and see the outcomes achieved from that.
What are the project outcomes? Project outcomes refer to the level of performance or achievement that would have occurred due to the activities of the teams on the project. However, measuring project outcomes correctly is not an easy task. There are three metrics that you can use to determine if your project outcomes were positive or negative. The metrics are stakeholder satisfaction, project cost, and overall quality of the project.
3. Describe The Project Scope, Project Schedule, And Project Cost
This step is closely related to the above but independent in its own way when it comes to your project closure report. Defined, the project scope is the part of a project where you document the specific goals, deliverables, features, deadlines, and the tasks of a project. It looks at everything that’s needed to get a project through from beginning to completion. This part of the Project Closure Report will look at the overall scope of the Project in relation to the actual project schedule and ultimately the cost.
When a Scope analysis is initially done, everything including the project costs is factored into the initial analysis. These figures, however, will vary and shift as the project goes which is why it’s important to do such a comparison of the actual vs the targeted costs to see whether you ended up going over budget or remained under budget.
4. Project Performance Analysis
The project performance analysis can easily qualify as the most important step of the whole project closure report. The performance analysis expands on step 3 and really dives deep into the budget and compare the actual costs and schedule of the project with the set baseline. To be effective, the performance analysis has to be subdivided into three parts namely, the Goals and Objective Performance, the Success Criteria Performance and the Schedule and Budget Performance.
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i. Goals and Objectives Performance
Before you began the project, in the project outline, what were the set goals and objectives for the project? What did you hope to have achieved by the end of the project? How many of those goals have actually been achieved? In addition, how many of those have had to be revised as the conditions on the ground changed?
The questions above are some of the key questions that should be asked when looking at the Goals and Objectives Performance Analysis of the project.
ii. Success Criteria Performance
The success Criteria is the one that deals directly with the KPI’s. One thing great project managers do before they embark on a new project is to define success before the project begins. The definition of success for a project can differ from one project to the next. Therefore, you have to look at how you defined the success of your project and check to see whether you got there.
iii. Schedule and Budget Performance
Lastly, under performance analysis, you will have to look at your Schedule and Budget Performance. On your project Scope, what were the set deadlines? Did you meet those deadlines? If not, what were the main reasons for the failure to meet the deadlines? The same questions will apply when you look at your budget. Was it enough or did you have to go to the bank or client for more funding?
In any case, the key thing would be to analyze and compare your actual performance with your set targets.
5. Project Highlights (Important Aspects Of The Project)
The project Highlight Section looks at the highlights of the whole project throughout the whole timeline. It usually includes high-level project information such as the requests and any other issues that arose within the project.
Compiling the highlight report and adding it to the project closure report should not be hard. It is recommended that you should at least make a highlight report at the end of each week throughout the course of a project updating the different stakeholders involved in the project of the project’s current progress.
If you have those reports, then you can just refer to them and pick the key points from each of the weekly reports to combine them into one master report to include in your final Project Closure Report.
6. Write And Outline The Challenges Faced And Risks
Every Project has its challenges and risks. This section will enable you to highlight all the challenges that might have been faced throughout the course of the project. One thing about challenges especially in relation to projects and project management is that they can be difficult to foresee. Apart from that, no matter how carefully you plan at the inception of the project, you can never plan around every potential challenge.
For future reference and presentation to stakeholders, you should use this section to highlight every challenge you faced throughout the course of the project. In addition to listing down the challenges, you should also highlight how the challenge affected other aspects of your project including your budget and schedule.
Besides the challenges, you should also highlight the risks faced. Risks can be anything from the weather, workplace safety, or even money.
7. Write About The Lessons Learned During Implementation
One source of valuable lessons for any project are the challenges. When you overcome the challenges faced when doing a process, chances are, you will learn one or two things. Use this section of your Project Closure Report to highlight what you learned.
During the course of the project, you will also be working with different stakeholders from different industries. Sometimes these stakeholders can teach you different techniques to help work get done faster which is valuable. If you learned such techniques from the various stakeholders you would have worked with throughout the project implementation, then you should use this section to highlight those lessons.
The reason why it’s important to note down the lessons learned in this project closing document is that later on when doing another project, you can always reference the report of your previous project to look for common pitfalls and how you can avoid those pitfalls.
8. Add Recommendations Based On Lessons Learned
The final part would be writing the recommendations. Recommendations can be anything from the proposed improvements to the maintenance schedule for the final product. In addition when writing the lessons learned, if there are some things on the lessons that affect the project directly, then such lessons should go with their recommendations for easy referencing.
A Project Closure Report is an important document that signifies the formal project closing. One thing to remember when working on the report is to pay attention to detail especially on performance analysis. Paying attention to detail especially when a project goes over budget will help you avoid falling into the same pitfalls in the future.
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