Project closure – why it drags on and how to make it stop!

feature_project closureProjects are commonly characterised as temporary endeavours, meaning that they (should) eventually come to an end. In practice, however, we often see the closing phase of a project being delayed, sometimes far beyond the identified or required project closure date.

In this blog, I explore the top three reasons, as experienced by the Project Portfolio Office team, for the postponement of projects closures and tie this back to how a project management tool can assist.

Misaligned project objectives

In my experience, the main reason for project closure delays is that the project stakeholders feel their project objectives have not been met and are therefore reluctant to give a sign off. This could be because the objectives of the project were not properly agreed and documented at the outset of the project, and were therefore misunderstood or misinterpreted by stakeholders.

This challenge can be circumvented by properly documenting the project objectives in a project charter, project initiation document or a similar document when initiating the project. Project management tools, like Project Portfolio Office (PPO), often provide a project charter as an output document that can be extracted and approved. Once approved and uploaded onto the project management tool, end-users and stakeholders should have easy access to this document throughout the life of the project.

The issue can also be addressed by ensuring that the original objectives and benefits are recorded on your status and steering committee reports, and dashboards. This means that they will be visible to the project stakeholders and team throughout the project.

Poor scope management processes

Another reason why projects are not completed is due to poor scope management. This occurs when stakeholders keep adding scope they believe should have been part of the project, without taking into consideration the impact on the end date. Every piece of work added to the project has a direct bearing on the closure of the project, and, if this is not planned for and approved, the project closure could be delayed indefinitely.

Your project management tool should allow the project manager to record and track the approval and impact of each scope change. The effect of the change on time, cost and scope should be noted and (if required) the project plan should be amended. By keeping an active scope change log and including these scope changes in your status reports, stakeholders will be aware of the increased time, scope and/or budget on the project.

PPO, for example, has a dedicated scope change entity which allows managers to keep track of each change request, as well as its impact on the cost, timeline and scope of the project.

Lack of planning for project closure

Lastly, the closure of a project is frequently deemed as less important than the project itself, and is therefore not planned for properly. The project closure should include a post project implementation review and a project closure report, as well as a review of lessons learnt. These documents and logs should be uploaded and stored in your project management tool to allow for easy review and revisit for other projects.

Are you looking for project management tool that will help you better close projects? If so, try a free 30-day trial of Project Portfolio Office (PPO) today at

PPO is an award winning online project portfolio management and collaboration application. PPO is simple, immediate, secure and affordable. PPO is flexible and can be configured to support any methodology.

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Author: Estie Van der Watt

Estie ensures potential clients can envision themselves as part of the PPO family by merging their processes and requirements with our awesome application during the sales cycle. Apart from creating world peace, her hobbies include photography, horse riding, birding and spending time with her furry children.

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