Handling Project Phaseouts and Transfers

By definition, projects have an end point. Closing out is a very important phase in the project life cycle, which should follow particular disciplines and procedures with the objective of:

• Effectively bringing the project to closure according to agreed-on contractual requirements

• Preparing for the transition of the project into the next operational phase, such as from production to field installation, field operation, or training

• Analyzing overall project performance with regard to financial data, schedules, and technical efforts

• Closing the project office, and transferring or selling off all resources originally assigned to the project, including personnel

• Identifying and pursuing follow-on business

Although most project managers are completely cognizant of the necessity for proper planning for project start-up, many project managers neglect planning for project termination. Planning for project termination includes:

• Transferring responsibility

• Completion of project records

• Historic reports

• Post project analysis

• Documenting results to reflect "as built" product or installation

• Acceptance by sponsor/user

• Satisfying contractual requirements

• Releasing resources

• Reassignment of project office team members

• Disposition of functional personnel

• Disposition of materials

• Closing out work orders (financial closeout)

• Preparing for financial payments

Project success or failure often depends on management's ability to handle personnel issues properly during this final phase. If job assignments beyond the current project look undesirable or uncertain to project team members, a great deal of anxiety and conflict may develop that diverts needed energy to job hunting, foot dragging, or even sabotage. Another problem is that project personnel engage in job searches on their own and may leave the project prematurely. This creates a glaring void that is often difficult to patch, always costing additional time and money, and often eroding the already strained morale of the remaining project team.

Given the business realities, it is often difficult to transfer project personnel under ideal conditions for all parties involved. However, some suggestions are delineated below that can increase organizational effectiveness in closing out a project and can minimize personal stress for all parties involved:

• Carefully plan the project closeout on the part of both project and functional managers. Use a checklist to assist in the preparation of the closeout plan.

• Establish a simple project closeout procedure that identifies the major steps and responsibilities.

• Treat the closeout phase like any other project, with clearly delineated tasks, agreed-on responsibilities, schedules, budgets, and deliverable items or results.

• Understand the interaction of behavioral and organizational elements in order to build an environment conducive to teamwork during this final project phase.

• Emphasize the overall goals, applications, and utilities of the project as well as its business impact. This will boost the morale of the team and enhance the desire to participate up to final closure and success.

• Secure top-management involvement and support.

• Be aware of conflict, fatigue, shifting priorities, and technical or logistic problems. Try to identify and deal with these problems when they start to develop. Maintaining an effective flow of communications is the key to managing these problems. Regularly scheduled status meetings can be an important vehicle for maintaining effective communications.

• If at all possible, keep project personnel informed of upcoming job op portunities. Resource managers should discuss and negotiate new assignments with their personnel and, ideally, start involving their people already in the next project.

• Be aware of rumors. If a reorganization or layoff is inevitable at the end of a project, the situation should be described in a professional manner. If it is left to the imagination, project personnel will assume the worst, resulting in a demoralized team, work slowdowns, and sporadic departure of key team members.

• Assign a contract administrator dedicated to company-oriented projects. He will protect your financial position and business interests by following through on customer sign-offs and final payment.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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