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How to Close a PRINCE2 Project

Closing a project is an essential skill in any business and PRINCE2 has a specific process for this purpose. For a definitive guide, you will need to do one of our courses which offer real-world-based training, but our pointers below give an overview of what is involved.

  1. What is the point of the Closing a Project process in PRINCE2? One of the great strengths of PRINCE2 is that it has a beginning, middle and end that, rather like the Olympic Games, signal key moments. The Closing a Project process is a key moment in that it aims to give everyone a fixed point when acceptance for the project is confirmed and when original or modified objectives have been achieved.
  2. Why do you need a fixed point of closure? Take one look at projects that don’t have controlled closure and you’ll see why! Either things come to a sudden stop or they drift endlessly on, without ever reaching a successful conclusion, and with people almost forgetting the point of the project; imagine if in the Olympics the marathon went on, and on, and on…
  3. What’s the objective of the process? There are five main objectives and they involve, amongst other things, verifying user acceptance of the products, reviewing performance against baselines and dealing with issues and risks.
  4. When should you plan closing activities? Do this as part of the Stage Plan for the final management stage. Remember that there’s work to be done in preparing input to the Project Board before it can authorize closure and that the Executive should inform corporate or programme management that the project has closed.
  5. What are the five activities in the Closing a Project process? They are: prepare a planned closure, prepare a premature closure, hand over products, evaluate the project and recommend closure.
  6. What must the project manager prepare? Projects are based on results, so the PM must ensure that everything has been achieved and delivered. Action points would incorporate: updating the project plan with actual's from the final stage and confirming that the project has delivered and acceptance criteria have been achieved. Don't forget that the Product Checklist records major products and key delivery dates.
  7. What is involved when products are handed over? Quite a lot. Bear in mind that handover can be in phases or done in one massive operation at the end, and additionally, that life can get complicated if premature closure is involved. Broadly speaking, the actions recommended here are: preparing follow-on action recommendations to include any uncompleted work, issues and risks; checking that the Benefits Review Plan incorporates post-project activities that will confirm those benefits that you can only measure when products have been put through their real-life paces; examining the Configuration Management Strategy to confirm how products will be handed over.
  8. How do you prepare for premature closure? No-one wants to close a project before its due date but sometimes that’s the best option and the aim should be to do it as quickly and as efficiently as possible to avoid wasting valuable resources. Tasks include updating the issue register and seeking approval to give notice to interested departments that resources can be or are to be released early.
  9. What might you need to consider when working through the acceptance and handover process? There’s so much we could put here. But two of the many things worth remembering are that you may need to get a legal sign off where lawyers have to approve, or have approved, documents or that you may need to get sign off from suppliers before your company will pay them.
  10. How do you evaluate your project so that you do better next time? This is a key strength of PRINCE2 for evaluation helps you, and the business, understand what happened in the project and how well you delivered so you can repeat successes and avoid failures. The actual tasks are pretty logical, like reviewing the original intent of the project, reviewing approved changes and producing an End Project Report to show how team and project performed. Don't forget to look at on-going product and business risks.
  11. What's involved in recommending project closure? As the project manager you’re the one who can confirm if the project can be closed. Once done, the closure recommendation needs to raised to the Project Board. Actions required here consist of tasks such as telling interested people or organisations that the project is finishing, closing all the logs and registers and archiving and securing all information.
  12. Finally, what do you do for the team? While you’re busy going through the Closing a Project process it’s easy to forget the people behind it, but projects are about people so some kind of end-of-project event – especially if it’s been a long slog - will show everyone they’re appreciated. Think closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, then take it down a few hundred notches and you've got the perfect end!

Useful Links

  • Whether you're just starting down the PRINCE2 route or whether you're an experienced hand, it’s always good to catch up with the latest case studies and techniques and a good place to start is the PRINCE2 Downloads page which has a wealth of information for project managers.
  • ILX Group delivers PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner e-learning, classroom and blended learning to suit every situation.
  • The APMG has a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options.
  • The PRINCE2 e-learning experience provides cost-effective, rich and collaborative training that includes a blog, a forum and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • ILX Connect can help companies implement PRINCE2 training.
  • ILX Consultancy provides everything from maturity assessments and organisational health-checks, through ITIL, MSP and PRINCE2 implementation, to programme and project performance management. It has a proven record of delivering tangible improvements in capability, productivity and customer satisfaction to a businesses and organisations.