Most projects continue after implementation. Once we have designed and built the solution, we handover and closeout. Handover and closeout are the two stages of the final phase of the project.
We will see in a minute that handover and closeout may overlap.
Handover means passing the reigns to the team who will make the product, supply the service or operate the process we delivered. We call this team the Business As Usual (BAU) team. The value of the handover lies in ensuring:
- They can use or deliver our solution in a day-to-day environment.
- Our solution meets the project’s goals.
- The organisation realises the benefits of the project.
Handover proves our solution. The BAU team must be happy with it and the support materials we provide. For example, process documentation and user guides. Together, we review the acceptance criteria and confirm we did what we said we would do. Then we jointly assess our outcome for ‘snags’. When the handover is complete we are ready to closeout the project.
Closeout has four key deliverables:
- A signed handover document
- Lessons learnt – from a project team review
- Project archive
- Benefits realisation review
Closeout protects the future. The BAU team accept ownership of the solution and any remaining actions. Future projects will benefit from our mistakes and good practice. Team members can conclude one project before diving into the next.
However, if the handover takes a long time, we start closeout in parallel. The advantages of starting early are in the people. We all remember recent events more clearly than things that happened a while ago. And while closeout should formally release the project team to start new projects. In reality, they are often assigned new roles before they have the chance to finish.
Consulting Delta Swan to help you close out your project might seem like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Think of it as giving your BAU team and next project team the opportunity to succeed.