IT executives must present projects to their organisations in order to prove their value. A project can showcase the successful execution of a technology strategy or facilitate a business or transformational plan. Engaging in such projects provides an opportunity to work closely with consultants, advisors, technical experts, and also explore new technology.
Although most IT companies acknowledge the importance of efficient project management, very few possess the skill to successfully conclude a project. Usually, after completing a project within an organisation, it feels like turning on the lights in a nightclub where everyone departs in haste, without so much as a word of farewell.
When dealing with challenging or unsuccessful undertakings, it is crucial to handle them with care. Key personnel may be hesitant to participate in such projects due to the potential association with negative results.
The final stages of a project require the same amount of attention as the beginning. Concluding a project in a diligent manner guarantees a smooth transition towards upcoming activities and invaluable knowledge into the accomplishments and drawbacks of the project, thus paving the way for future enhancements.
It’s frequently unnoticed that initiatives hold two significant implications. The primary outcome is the intended purpose, while the secondary one, which is more complex, involves developing skills and knowledge. Even if a project fails to achieve its intended goal, there is still room for progress, as long as the team is willing to embrace it.
Develop a Project Conclusion Checklist
An organisation with a notable experience in project management typically adopts a specific approach and toolset. Before commencing a new project, many tasks need to be completed, such as creating charters and scheduling launch meetings. Tasks related to concluding a project are often documented less extensively.
Starting with the end in mind is crucial to achieve a successful project completion. Therefore, at the start of a project, it’s wise to hold a session to develop a conclusion plan. Consider asking your team questions such as:
How can we leverage the knowledge gained during the project to benefit the entire company?
- Does a tracking system exist to monitor team performance on the project and provide feedback to their superiors?
- What is our approach to assess the project’s execution strategy and disseminate the outcomes?
- Who is responsible for transferring the knowledge of our consulting and technology partners to the project team effectively?
- Asking such questions fosters continuous discussions that lead to the creation of a dedicated strategy section that ensures project completion.
Insights Gained from Previous Projects
Evaluating the learning outcomes for your teams post-project is vital to ensure a successful conclusion. The initiative may have presented opportunities to utilise new tools, processes or suppliers or develop unprecedented skills that could yield disproportionate benefits for your teams.
The challenge is that the expert knowledge obtained during the project is limited only to the individuals who carried out the implementation of the new methods. It is critical to formulate an action plan to transfer this knowledge, as it contributes to long-term benefits. While working with other teams in the future, some of this knowledge would be shared by these employees.
As the project approaches completion stage, bringing in extra personnel can prove beneficial. This would offer additional resources to successfully finish the project and give our experienced staff a chance to share their knowledge with new team members. Through this approach, we can not only ensure the successful conclusion of the project but also expedite the sharing of the gained knowledge.
It is recommended to reserve time for a structured debriefing to evaluate the accomplishments and shortcomings of the project. This is a regular practise in the military, where they conduct an After Action Report to identify any takeaways that could enhance future activities and the organisation as a whole. It’s essential to recognise that the debriefing is not a platform for crediting or blaming individuals but an opportunity to use the experience to gain insights that can be utilised in the future.
Turning Mistakes into Success
Projects that fail to achieve their goals can be difficult to conclude successfully. To avoid being linked with such instances of failure, people typically terminate these projects swiftly and avoid discussing them.
Retreating from mistakes is unproductive as it wastes time and hinders the company’s ability to benefit from the lessons learned. Even if the project’s intended objectives were not accomplished, your business undoubtedly acquired new skills and knowledge, and perhaps even learned valuable lessons about the viability of a specific technology or vendors’ partnership at a significant expense.
Hiring an external observer to offer an unbiased view of the project can be immensely beneficial. Instead of blaming or revisiting irreversible actions, our approach should be to identify ‘learning opportunities’ to be utilised in future projects. This process not only recognises that the project did not turn out as intended and enables us to formally terminate the venture, but also generates critical insights that can enhance future projects.
The chances are your project offered a variety of opportunities for expansion and improvement by adopting innovative methods, techniques and technologies. As a result of the pressures faced by your team, partners and operations, new tools and strategies may have been incorporated.
Effectively concluding a project can produce priceless insights that can enhance future ventures and fortify your business. Mastering the skill of successful project closure can yield rewards that surpass the measurable outcomes achieved.