CRPM: Project Management, Closing

by Kacey Larsen

The closing phase of project management often gets the least attention of all the project management phases. Closing a project provides a great opportunity to your company as well as helping to cement the client relationship. These activities increase the likelihood of getting a referral and/or additional sales.

During this phase, the project manager needs to follow best practices to ensure all project paperwork is complete. This includes the final inspections, verifying final client approval, gathering client and stakeholder feedback, and preparing the final project file. Using  information gathered during this phase, you should also update your company processes and procedures and share what you learned.

As noted, closing may be rushed through or glossed over, and that can create a host of problems. For example, your company may want to redeploy people quickly into other jobs. As the team dwindles, the interest and energy wanes, and people move on mentally. All result in the likelihood of not capturing learnings, which can lead to making mistakes again or not finalizing things cleanly with the client, which can possibly result in follow‐ups later or reduced client satisfaction.

Closing must be a structured process that addresses each of the following: the client, the jobsite, the stakeholders, the project file, the project team and the audit procedures.


Typically the most familiar area of closing, it is also the most critical. Closing activities represent much more than just the financial closing. It will also include the final inspection, Certificate of Occupancy and final client approval. 

Use the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as a guide. The client may have asked upfront or along the way during the project for other inspections after the final inspection—such as independent homeowner inspectors, architects or interior designers. Even if they haven’t asked but such stakeholders have been involved along the way, it is good to verify with the client whether he/she expects or assumes such final inspections will be done. Better to add them now than have them come up after you believe all is done.

Providing a final summary is always valuable and shows the client you took care with the work and delivered what was promised. Providing the client with a well‐organized, easy-to-use packet of project documents can help with the client relationship and increase satisfaction. This is likely an important record the client will save and use to document improvements for tax purposes or when they sell later. This final summary also protects the remodeler.

Client feedback should be solicited. This can be done by a member of your staff or by a third-party vendor. However it is handled, it must be safe and easy for the client to answer, especially to give negative feedback. The feedback must be reviewed and shared with the team. It cannot be stressed enough that negative feedback must be addressed, and action taken to correct with the client, to prevent it from happening with the next client.


Closing out the jobsite includes such things as conducting a thorough clean-up, collecting and deciding what to do with any unused items, removing any equipment, and returning any rented items. Ideally, this would be done in a clean and remove “as you go” fashion so that at the end you are just verifying the space is clean and clear of tools.


Just as you verify the WBS items with the client, you also should verify work is complete with all trades, contractors and vendors. Make sure payments are made and get waivers of lien with the final payments.

Conducting performance reviews of trade contractors/vendors as well as your team is important. They can provide good knowledge on how to improve in the future, and you may need to determine their suitability for future work. In some cases, you may need to choose how or whether to give negative feedback to a trade contractor. It may not be pleasant but is important to the relationship if you want to continue working together.

Project File

Likely you will have a more detailed file internally than what is provided to the client. Here, too, you can do this work incrementally, such as by phase to help make it manageable and reduce effort at the end. Consider making a digital file rather than, or in addition to, a paper file. The file should include:

  • Baselines and final actuals for cost, schedule and quality
  • Planning documents
  • Work and purchase orders
  • Work contracts
  • Warranty information
  • And lessons learned.

Project Team

Provide performance reviews for your team members. These can be difficult but are key to improving the future performance of both the company and individuals. This process is also a good time to get input on your performance as the project manager from the team member’s perspective. | QR

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