When the Successful Project is Ending
You are the project manager and you and your team have just completed a successful launch of your company’s new accounting software that tracks everything from department budgets to project financials to vendor invoices and all costs associated with everything and everyone in the organization.
Planning and analyzing revenue, costs and profitability in 2018 will be a snap and you’re feeling pretty good about how the last 8 months went while leading this high tech and complex project and integrating all of the legacy data into it along with all of the data transformation activities that had to go into it as well.
You led a team of very skilled high tech professionals who were just doing their job, but did it well and collaborated and planned and designed the heck out of everything. With everyone running on all cylinders you delivered a very successful and satisfying end solution. Now what? You have just had a successful launch or are in the process of a successful launch. What do you do next?
Verify EVERYTHING is complete and signed off.
There are some long term knowledge base type stuff that you need to do and there should probably be some celebrating. But first let’s make sure all the loose ends are tied up on the project. That starts with the deliverables. Has everything been delivered? Are all deliverables signed of appropriately? Is user acceptance test (UAT) properly closed up and signed off with all issues resolved. Often that UAT is about the same as complete sign off of the final solution or system so that UAT completion and sign off is extremely important. I’m not saying get sign off on everything to cover yourself in case the client comes back because we’re mainly talking about a fairly successful project… but you never know and it’s better to always, always, always cover all of your bases and make sure everything has proper sign off.. good project or bad project.
Verify all invoices are out and hopefully paid.
In the same vein of making sure all deliverables have indeed been delivered and have been officially signed off and approved, you need to ensure that all invoices have been sent to the project client and that all have been paid. If there are any outstanding invoices with the client you need to follow up with them and find out why they haven’t been paid and if there are any outstanding issues that would make them not want to be finalizing the invoice with payment. Since the project we are talking about has been successful, it’s more likely to be an oversight on the customer’s side than any issue wth dissatisfaction with any overall work performed or deliverable provided.
Consider ways to promote the success.
The project was successful, team member morale is high and you want to capitalize while the momentum is in place and everyone is getting ready to head off to a next project assignment. What do you do? One way to promote the success is to send out a company-wide email or mini press release that highlights the success of the project with some details and calls out each team member to give them the recognition they deserve. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to draft something for a C-level to send out to all company employees as well – especially if this project had some visibility attached to it. Certainly you aren’t going to do all this for a $10,000 project, but you certainly could and should for a $1 million implementation.
Conduct lessons learned for future success.
You actually had a successful project? I’m not saying that is necessarily a rare occurrence, but studies and surveys have shown that more projects fail than succeed. So knowing for certain that you have a successful project – not just probably a pretty good project that may be considered a success – is no small matter. So let’s understand what went so right and how your delivery team collaborated well to make it such a success. It’s likely that you or another colleague within the organization will be managing a very similar project in the not too distant future so having steps and practices and templates and documented decisions that went the right way would be good thing to help that next similar project succeed in the same way. Likewise, many of the successful actions can likely be incorporated into all company projects going forward.
How do we ensure that this knowledge is documented and transferred? We conduct a lessons learned session with all stakeholders to go through the pros and cons – and hopefully the cons on such a project are few – of the engagement to understand from all angles why it was successful. And, of course, even successful projects can do better… so there will likely be a few negatives to discuss and strategize on how to mitigate or avoid those issues in the future on other projects.
Summary / call for input
The bottom line is this… the project went well but you’re really not done yet. You need to ensure that all loose ends were tied up, figure out why it went so well so you can repeat it next time around, and commend those who participated because if you’re working in a matrix organization you’ll probably be working with them again. Project managers don’t get lots of accolades and you may not get any still even for the highly successful project, but don’t let that stop you from acknowledging all of your great project team members.
Readers – how do you feel about this list? You’ve had successful projects along the way – you must have if you’re still in the profession and you are reading this. What did you do to make sure all the loose ends were tied up and how did you give recognition to the team? Gifts? Movie tickets? Dinner out to a nice restaurant? Recognition? Announcements? You want to motivate them for next time even if they were just doing their job. But I’m not big on gifts personally…tell me why I’m wrong if you feel that way.