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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Chapter 93: The Finishing Touch

We are almost done with our responsibilities as the project manager. The last few things we may have to do are explained in this chapter.

Reviewing the Project

Part of the details of project closure is to analyze project success or failure. You can accomplish this by collecting and generating project evaluation information, such as what went well and what did not. Some of this information already exists in the work performance reports. However, the final information can be gathered in various ways, such as a post-project review meeting with the team or a survey questionnaire. The most important output and the whole purpose of the review is the lessons learned. The review should be comprehensive and should cover the following:
• Both technical and nontechnical components
• Both positive and negative aspects, the things that went well and the things that did not go well
• All stages and phases of the project

Trivia:
The purpose of the post-project review, also called the post-project assessment, is to learn lessons that can be applied to future projects to run them more effectively. It can easily become a finger pointing game in case of projects that had some troubled times. Make sure you don't let such a thing happen during the final meeting.

As part of the project review, you should also measure customer satisfaction from the customer feedback collected by using techniques such as interviews and surveys. This will help the organization establish and maintain a long term relationship with the customer. An example of a survey is a 360-degree survey, which means feedback from all kinds of stakeholders in the project. In general, a 360-degree survey contains feedback from all around the entity being evaluated.

The findings of the review should be recorded in a document that might have different names in different organizations, such as the post-project review report or the project assessment report. Your organization might even have a template or standard for such a report. Depending upon the size of the project, the review report might be part of the project closure report or a separate report. The report will be distributed among the stakeholders and will be added to the project archive. The project closure report can also include the final project performance as compared to the baselines, as well as a description of the final project product.

Releasing the Resources

For effective and efficient use of the organization’s resources, it is imperative that they be released in an efficient and proper manner. The release procedure might be included in the resource planning stage itself, the staff management plan should address the issue of releasing the human resources. Well-planned release or transfer of team members reflects managerial professionalism, which requires that employees be treated with respect and dignity. By ensuring a well-planned release and a smooth transition to other projects, you are helping the employees focus wholeheartedly on the project toward the very end, rather than worrying about the next assignment. This will obviously improve the productivity of team members and the efficiency of the project. Following are some suggestions to consider for properly releasing human resources:
• Although it is possible that different team members will be released at different times, at the project closure you should organize some closure event to honor and thank the project team members, including the contractors, for their contributions. However, you must check your company policy regarding including contractors in company-sponsored events and giving them rewards.
• Plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute. Communicate with the functional manager ahead of time about when a staff member is going to be released.
• Work closely with your organization’s human resources department, which might have some guidelines or procedures that you need to follow.
• Write recommendation letters for team members who have made outstanding contributions to the project.
• Make sure you gather feedback from members who are leaving the team. It will help you develop yourself as a better manager. Never ignore negative comments.
• Don't victimize the person leaving the team. In most organizations, during appraisals, the person who is leaving the team is usually given bad ratings at the expense of the ones in the team. The rationale may be that, I am forced to give bad ratings to a few people because of curve fitting and in the best interest of the project I am retaining the better rating for the person who is actually working in this project than someone who just left or will be leaving in the next few days. This is bad or unprofessional behavior on your part as the project manager.

Once all the closure tasks are completed and the documents are finalized, the project might need to be turned over to another group in the organization; for example, to the maintenance or support group.

Saying Goodbye: The Project Turnover

Depending upon the project, you might need to coordinate the turnover of the project deliverables to the customer or to another group in your organization, such as maintenance or support group. The turnover requirements, such as training help-desk employees, should have been included in the project management plan.

Once you do this, you are no longer in-charge of this project. A feeling of accomplishment for you and your team. This is the time to take your project team and celebrate.

Let the celebrations begin!!!

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Next: Summary - Project Closure

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