Chapter 9 – Project Closure and Evaluation
Just as a project comes to a close, contracts also come to a close. Contract closure is concerned with completing and settling the terms of the contracts set for the project. It supports the project completion process because the contract closure process determines if the work described in the contracts was completed accurately and satisfactorily. Keep in mind that not all projects are performed under contract, so not all projects require the contract closure process. Obviously, this process applies only to those phases, deliverables, or portions of the project that were performed under contract.
Contract closure updates the project records, detailing the final results of the work on the project. Contracts may have specific terms or conditions for completion. You should be aware of these terms or conditions so that project completion isn’t held up because you missed an important detail. If you are administering the contract yourself, be sure to ask your procurement department if there are any special conditions that you should be aware of so that your project team doesn’t inadvertently delay contract project closure.
One of the purposes of the contract closure process is to provide formal notice to the seller, usually in written form, that the deliverables are acceptable and satisfactory or have been rejected. If the product or service does not meet the expectations, the vendor will need to correct the problems before you issue a formal acceptance notice. Before the contract is closed, any minor items that need to be repaired or completed are placed on a punch list, which is a list of all the items found by the client or team or manager that still remain to be done.
A project audit is a formal review of the project that assesses the standards of the project management and ensures the standards were maintained throughout the project. They are carried out by the Project Manager and the team, Human Resources if they have been involved since the beginning, the Financial Department, and other invested stakeholders. Hopefully, quality audits have been performed during the course of the project, and the vendor was given the opportunity to make corrections earlier in the process than the closing phase. It’s not a good idea to wait until the very end of the project and then spring all the problems and issues on the vendor at once. It’s much more efficient to discuss problems with your vendor as the project progresses because it provides the opportunity for correction when the problems occur.
The project team will then work on all of the items on the punch list ( list of issues/items that require immediate attention), and building a small schedule to complete the remaining work. If the number of items on the punch list is too large or the amount of work is significant, the project team continues to work on the project. Once the punch list becomes smaller, the project manager begins closing down the project, maintaining only enough staff and equipment to support the team that is working on the punch list.
If the product or service does meet the project’s expectations and is acceptable, formal written notice to the seller is required, indicating that the contract is complete. This is the formal acceptance and closure of the contract. It’s your responsibility as the project manager to document the formal acceptance of the contract. Many times, the provisions for formalizing acceptance and closing the contract are spelled out in the contract itself.
If you have a procurement department handling the contract administration, they will expect you to inform them when the contract is complete and will in turn follow the formal procedures to let the seller know the contract is complete. However, you will still note the contract completion in your copy of the project records.