Closing Down the Project-Managing the Information Systems Project
Closing Down the Project
The focus of project closedown is to bring the project to an end. Projects can conclude with a natural or unnatural termination. A natural termination occurs when the requirements of the project have been met—the project has been completed and is a success. An unnatural termination occurs when the project is stopped before completion. Several events can cause an unnatural termination of a project. For example, it may be learned that the assumption used to guide the project proved to be false, or that the performance of the system or development group was somehow inadequate, or that the requirements are no longer relevant or valid in the customer’s business environment. The most likely reasons for the unnatural termination of a project relate to running out of time or money, or both. Regardless of the project termination outcome, several activities must be performed: closing down the project, conducting postproject reviews, and closing the customer contract. Within the context of the SDLC, project closedown occurs after the implementation phase. The system maintenance phase typically represents an ongoing series of projects, each needing to be individually managed. Figure 3-19 summarizes the project closedown activities that are described more fully in the remainder of this section:
1. Closing down the project. During closedown, you perform several diverse activities. For example, if you have several team members working with
FIGURE 3-19 Three project closedown activities.
Foundations for Systems Development
you, project completion may signify job and assignment changes for some members. You will likely be required to assess each team member and provide an appraisal for personnel files and salary determination. You may also want to provide career advice to team members, write letters to superiors praising special accomplishments of team members, and send thank-you letters to those who helped but were not team members. As project manager, you must be prepared to handle possible negative personnel issues, such as job termination, especially if the project was not successful. When closing down the project, it is also important to notify all interested parties that the project has been completed and to finalize all project documentation and financial records so that a final review of the project can be conducted. You should also celebrate the accomplishments of the team. Some teams will hold a party, and each team member may receive memorabilia (e.g., a T-shirt with “I survived the X project”). The goal is to celebrate the team’s effort in bringing a difficult task to a successful conclusion.
2. Conducting postproject reviews. Once you have closed down the project, final reviews of the project should be conducted with management and customers. The objective of these reviews is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of project deliverables, the processes used to create them, and the project management process. It is important that everyone understands what went right and what went wrong, in order to improve the process for the next project. Remember, the systems development methodology adopted by an organization is a living guideline that must undergo continual improvement.
3. Closing the customer contract. The focus of this final activity is to ensure that all contractual terms of the project have been met. A project governed by a contractual agreement is typically not completed until agreed to by both parties, often in writing. Thus, it is paramount that you gain agreement from your customer that all contractual obligations have been met and that further work is either their responsibility or covered under another system service request or contract.
Closedown is an important activity. A project is not complete until it is closed, and it is at closedown that projects are deemed a success or failure. Completion also signifies the chance to begin a new project and apply what you have learned. Now that you have an understanding of the project management process, the next section describes specific techniques used in systems development for representing and scheduling activities and resources.