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Closing Process Group

Finally, finally, we’ve gotten to the fifth process group of the 5. Closing. This is the shortest list of steps. This is the one no one likes. This is the one that gets the short shrift (and you thought Planning was undervalued!).

We close the project now. We verify the work was done, and done to the original requirements. We close the procurements, and sign off on those. We sit down with our customers and make sure they agree with us that the original requirements were met, and that the changes were implemented as approved. We DOCUMENT that they sign off on this. We store all of the documents and lessons learned in a single location, so that when you start the next, similar project you have some historical process to refer back to in the  Initiation process group.

Then, we wipe our hands of it. Operations takes over the running of the unique, shiny new thing that was built with the project, and we send our project team back into the wilds from whence they came (Mulcahey, PMP Exam Prep, 6th Edition, 43).

I think it’s this last 2 portions that I most dislike about the Closing process group. I always feel that the deliverable widgets don’t look all shiny and new, or like they’re half-formed, and giving them to Operations, they are going to not appreciate them.

Then, with the releasing of the team, it means that the PM (me) gets released too. Then, you are left with this impression that Ops didn’t like your results, and no one will ever¬†assign you to a project again. And then Monday rolls around…

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Lessons Learned about Lessons Learned

I’ve been meaning to write about my lessons learned meeting, and closing my CRM project. I finally hosted my lessons learned meeting 2 weeks ago.

The project proved to be interesting, because the majority of the team only worked on one or two tasks each, so with one exception, I only spoke with the individual members during the weekly status call. That call never went more than 20 minutes of the full hour. I kept my expectations low for the lessons learned meeting.

In preparation, I pulled together a powerpoint to use over web conference (we have multiple offices in 2 time zones). On each slide, I listed one of the project objectives: build CRM tool, set up enrollment telephone line, establish vendor relationship, etc. and under each one, I included space for successes and challenges.

During the meeting, we went through each item, and discussed it. I came into the meeting with pre-conceived notions about what the challenges were, so I could help lead the discussion when people got stuck. I didn’t have to do much leading other than moving on to our next topic. I also didn’t have to moderate interpersonal fights, because the failures in the project were mostly instigated by our developer quitting halfway through development. Forgive me for letting any interpersonal unpleasantness thrive, but if spleens were vented over the developer quitting, I didn’t stop them.

I was happily surprised to learn a couple of challenges from the project that I wasn’t even aware of, mostly around the vendor management. I thought I had my finger on the pulse of a fairly small project, but even then, there are things that surprised me.

I wrapped up the meeting with 5 minutes for each team member to say what they thought they did particularly well. No one said anything. Ahhh…my modest coworkers. So, I, as prepared, pulled out one success that each teammate had had, be it managing a relationship, getting IT to work on development, or providing feedback on documentation, and called each person out by name to compliment them.

After 16 weeks of working on this project with the same 6 people, I finally felt like I had a team on the last day, even if it was only as they were leaving. Now, even if it didn’t feel like a team, do I still get to count all of the hours leading up to that point as PM experience?

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