Have you ever gotten to the end of your project only to look around and find that everyone has gone? All the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm have dissipated and your team members have moved on to bigger and better things. Here are seven ways to avoid closing pitfalls and be left holding the project bag:
Number one. Make sure you have all of your inputs. Again, in all of the phases of the project, you have to make sure you get the proper inputs for that phase. This one, it’s critical to have everything you need to actually close it out before people start leaving the project. As soon as you get to the end of the executing and controlling phases, members start checking out and going to the next project. So begin getting in the last documents coming in to the closing phase.
Number two. Critical to get the user acceptance and all approvals. If you put energy on, keep people engaged in collaborating about user acceptance testing and the approval phase, people will stay engaged with you and make sure you get all of the approvals and testing you need before everyone leaves.
Number three. Get final status reports. Again, status reports, sometimes people feel like, just extraneous administrivia to do. Well, make sure that people are reporting the actual status that they submit to you because you have to submit your final reports to your change control board and the stakeholders. So you want to make sure before people leave, that they’ve reported things accurately.
Number four. Get your documentation. It’s important to get documentation from everyone on the project who’s participated so that can be archived. Many times projects are phased so there may be phase two, phase three, or there may be extensions. Possibly a project was put on hold for some reason but it’s critical to have that documentation.
Number five. Celebrate. If you communicate with people that there going to be a celebration to give thanks to people on the team, then people might hang around. There was one group that I was working with that had a wrap party. So they were in the entertainment industry and they always had their wrap party. And everyone was sure to hang around for the wrap party. So communicate the celebration that you’re going to have for people at the end of the project. It has them stick around a little bit longer.
Number six. Be sure to connect with your team members and stakeholders and both online and offline, it’s important for people to remain connected. You never know who you may need to go to post-project to ask for information or get information on new and up-coming projects. And also to keep in touch with them for your own next project. Which leads into . . .
Number seven. The WIIFM. What’s in it for me? If you communicate with your team what’s in it for them, then they might be interested to listen longer and stay longer on the project. Let them know that the bonus to the people on the team is their next project. So you get information on new projects coming on board, maybe how they can help participate and also for yourself as well. So what’s in it for me is a great idea to include, to keep everyone engaged.
Keep these 7 suggestions in mind when it comes to closing out a project. Make sure to include these in the project plan and allocate time for them and make sure your project team members know that these seven steps are part of the project that must be complete.
If you found these tips from Jennifer Whitt, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at PDUs2Go.com.
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