The decision to close a project must be clear and understood by all project team members.  Often stakeholders think the only way a project can close is if it is completed.  However, a mature organization will close/cancel projects quite often in accordance with how they align with the portfolio management plans.

Formalized review milestones or go/no-go stages should be established throughout the project life cycle to ensure project close out questions are asked and documented at all stages of the project.  This will create trends that can also be assessed in the closure stage.   

10 Questions you can as part of Closure Process (NOTE: ask them at Gates/Milestones throughout the project, never wait just to the end to work on Closure processes) include:

  1. are project objectives being achieved;
  2. are the tools, equipment, materials and/or technologies being maximized and adding value to the project (should there be change or closure);
  3. have new technologies become an alternative that can support the project or the hand off;
  4. how do the project team members feel about the project;
  5. how is the project  being managed;
  6. how involved and committed is the project sponsor;
  7. how much support does the project have at the executive level;
  8. have stakeholder expectations and/or needs changed,
  9. how are we managing the documentation (where stored, is everyone aware of this, what are plans for ultimate disposition, who owns it).
  10. if I was to do this project again, how would I approach it (good and bad lessons learned - document this in as much detail as possible)
NOTE: as stated above, these questions should be asked throughout the project and the results should be tracked, monitored and at the end there will be valuable trends and statistical data available to help you with the next project.

Below are three great videos that talk about closure from different perspectives, they are only 2-3 min long and give you that reminder of some key points....

Steve Keys - Project Closure

Georgine Rowe - Project Closure

The link below gives an example of a closure check list, these can easily be created in Microsoft Excel (can pause this one and gives good checklist parameters)

Project Closure Checklist