A project close out meeting should in theory be a relaxed meeting. That is if the project has been delivered on time, on budget and meets the desired outcomes.
However, if a project takes twice the time, costs twice the budget and you get only half of what you expect then the project close out meeting will likely be a feisty and confrontational encounter. So, what is key to preventing the unwelcome project outcome and that awkward final meeting? One of the key rules is to ensure that the Project Deliverables are directly aligned to the Project Objectives and Goals.
Firstly, let’s clarify the meaning of these terms:
- Project Objectives and Goals: Objectives and goals are statements that describe what the project will accomplish, or the business value the project will achieve. Goals are high level statements that provide overall context for what the project is trying to achieve, and should align to business goals. Generally, the project is considered to be successful if the project objectives are met successfully.
- Project deliverables. Deliverable is a term used in project management to describe a tangible or intangible product or service produced as a result of the project that is intended to be delivered to a customer. A deliverable could be a report, a document, a software product, a server upgrade or any other building block of an overall project. All projects produce deliverables.
Ongoing reviews throughout the life of a project should ensure that objectives, goals and deliverables are aligned throughout. When you have completed creating your objectives and deliverables, go back and make sure that they're all in alignment throughout the project timeline. A lack of ongoing verification can cause the almighty surprise at the end of the project when the team deliverables are neither required nor aligned with the project objective. Ensure throughout the project meetings that alignment exists and that what the team is producing is what they were actually tasked with making. If the objectives and the deliverables are not aligned, you need to determine how to bring them into alignment.
There shouldn’t be any deliverable that is not aligned to an objective
- You shouldn't have any objectives that aren't aligned to one or more deliverables. The question to ask is which deliverables will help to satisfy this objective? If you're not building something to satisfy each objective, you might wonder how you're going to successfully achieve the objective. If you have an objective without a deliverable, you need to validate whether the objective is really important. If it is, then you will need to add or modify the deliverables to satisfy the objective. If it turns out that you have defined all of the deliverables that you intend to build, then you should remove the objective. If you're not building a deliverable to support it, the objective could be likely invalid for the Project but removing any objective requires in depth discussions with the project sponsor.
- Since objectives describe the purpose of the project, why would you want to build deliverables that do not help you achieve your objectives? If the deliverable really is important, you need to work with your project sponsor to determine the business objective for creating it. It's likely there's a project objective that would justify building the deliverable, but it is not yet identified for the project.
It is imperative that objectives and deliverables are aligned and that there is consensus and agreement on this with all stakeholders of the project. Project success hinges on delivering something which meets the objective of the project. Otherwise time and resource and wasted delivering something which is not required. Alignment of delivery and objective is the only way to ensure that boxing gloves aren’t required for the project close out meeting.