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It seems like an obvious question, but when is the execution of a project finished? People with project management certification will cry that it is only finished when the customer has signed off that the deliverables are acceptable. While this is the right answer, real world projects often have very unclear endings.

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If you have ever bought a new house, or a second-hand car, you will understand what I am talking about. Take a walk around any new house and you will soon have compiled a surprisingly long snag list. Similarly, you might cut a deal with a garage to buy a car on the basis that problems you have seen will be remedied.

Balancing Completion and Progress

Yet life moves on. Our rental agreement runs out and we have to move into the new house, ready or not. Similarly, I need the car for work, so I will, in the end, take it without all the remedial work completed.

Challenges of Resource Management

However, the project manager now comes under pressure internally to free up resources that are needed on other projects. So people leave the project without any sense of closure. Similarly, those that remain find themselves in a sort of limbo between development and maintenance. Wise maintenance departments will also be reluctant to accept a half-finished product.

The Verification Process

But, assuming that you have finished everything and are quietly congratulating yourself on a job well done, are you sure you are actually finished? Get out your project plan. Has all the work specified in the work breakdown structure and the activity lists been completed? Can you show that it has? This is where a traceability matrix helps. If everything is not finished, then what is your plan to complete the work?

The Handover Stage

However, it is important that project managers do not leave the formal handover to the end of the project. You need to analyse your stakeholders and ensure you understand what their priorities are. If you can target your best resources at the correct areas, an unfinished product might not be a complete disaster. Of course, an ideal situation is to deliver functionality as soon as you can in order to get feedback. Sometimes, this exercise can provide business value to the customer before the project is finished. Don’t just take my word for it, this sort of thinking forms the basis of agile and lean methodologies – so it is worth a look.

Velopi has put these points into a checklist and will send this onto any project manager who is interested. Simply contact us by e-mail and we will send one straight back to you.

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