IT Service Managers and the Close Out Stage

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IT project | IT service manager

Thank you for following this five-article series on an overview of critical responsibilities and realities of project management for IT Service Managers. In this final article, we will talk about Closing Out the project successfully.

The Close Out Phase of an IT Project – Is not as Simple as it Seems

We have covered so far:

  1. Project Introduction
  2. Initiation
  3. Planning
  4. Execution/Control

Last, but certainly not least on this list, is the Close Out phase. You would think that this final phase would be as simple as telling the customer the project is done, followed by sending them the final bill. This is not usually the case.

3 Key Parts of the Close Out Phase

There is a systematic process that consists of three key components in the Close Out phase:

  1. Project Close Out meeting (with same attendees as the What Was Sold meeting) plus a representative from IT Support with the finished Project-to-Support checklist
  2. Acceptance meeting with the customer
  3. Capturing Lessons Learned

In the Close Out meeting, you should go over the project plan to ensure:

  • Every detail has been completed
  • All change requests were created
  • Report the hours, budget, & material overruns
  • Score the project
  • But most importantly, ask the question: “What went right and what could we have done better?”

Every completed project needs a celebration! After the close out is over, you can spend the rest of the time celebrating. This can be done by having the project Close Out meeting at 11:30 AM, and then going to lunch together after to celebrate the project’s completion.

IT project | IT service managerIT Service Managers: Your Project is Complete. Now What?

  1. Release the Lead Tech from the project
  2. Notify Accounting that they can process a final bill
  3. Position IT Support to support the customer
  4. Prepare to meet with the customer for final acceptance.

The final acceptance meeting with the customer should be held ASAP after the project Close Out meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to confirm with the customer that all items in the Scope of Work starting from the initiation phase have been completed.

You must also discuss all change requests with the customer and verify they were all accepted prior to the work being done, as well as listen to what the project team could have done better.

The final acceptance meeting ends with going over the financials and agreeing to what the final bill will be. After the acceptance meeting, it is a good idea to send the customer a thank you note or an appreciation gift for their business.

Never Forget Your Lessons Learned!

Lessons Learned has been discussed throughout this series, but here is where it is emphasized in Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK).

What PMI says is that throughout the project, Lessons Learned need to be noted. After the project has been closed out and accepted, the New Project Manager should spend some time reviewing the project notes and assembling a list of Lessons Learned.

However, this list should not be assembled, attached to the project, and then forgotten. The hard work of Lessons Learned is in this phase of the project for a reason.

Now that Lessons Learned have been gathered into a concise list, the templates, processes, and procedure guidelines can benefit by being updated. The recently completed project will have a life cycle, and someday all the deliverables of the project will be superseded by another project.

Lessons Learned will go into living documents that will benefit the project team, company, and future customers long after the completed project meets its end of life. At the end of the project, the Lessons Learned is the most valuable take-a-way deliverable.

IT Projects as a Lead Generator

We started this series with a comment that Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are using projects as a lead generator for new customers. As MSPs struggle to be more competitive, rolling Lessons Learned into future projects and building a project management process that delivers IT projects on time, on budget, and meets expectations is very valuable.

Why? For starters:

  1. It establishes the MSP as a mature service provider.
  2. Project hours command more per hour charges than other services.
  3. It sets the network up in such a way so that the MSP has the greatest chance of success.

For more information on closing out an IT project, google IT Project Completion. Here are a few that caught my attention:

  • How to Plan for Your Project’s Completion - dummies
  • Project Completion Form – PDF and Word Download
  • Sample Thank You Letters for Help With a Project
  • IT project success rates finally improving | CIO

IT project | IT service manager

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