The end of a project life cycle often indicates that the project has been completed and the project completion report has been submitted.
The project completion report is detailed documentation that gives an overview of the project’s progress, accomplishments, milestones, roadblocks, budgets, and the team’s performance during the project. It’s a vital part of project management.
Besides being used to assess the success of a project, the report also serves as an important tool for identifying best practices, and challenges to improve project management processes for the future.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how to perform your project completion successfully, and provide a guide on how to write a comprehensive project completion report.
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What is successful project completion?
In project management, delivering what you agreed on in the scope of the project means that you’ve accomplished your project completion successfully.
In project management, successful completion of the project means you have delivered what you agreed on in the scope of the project. On top of that, you have to make sure you’re meeting all acceptance criteria, satisfying the stakeholders, and fulfilling business objectives.
The completion report offers a great opportunity to analyze the performance of a project, taking stock of what went well and what could be done differently next time.
What is a project completion plan? – A checklist to guide your every step
A project life cycle can’t end unless everyone meets all project completion criteria. This is why it’s essential for project managers to always have a project completion process checklist to keep the team on the same page, and guide them through the final phase of the project.
Plus, the project completion checklist ensures that your team is doing meaningful tasks in the project completion stage.
1. Compare objectives and reality
At the beginning of every project, a project manager sets objectives and goals for the project team members, which they should achieve by the end of the project. When assessing your project completion plan, the first thing you should evaluate is how reality measures up to the objectives that you laid out at the beginning of the project.
Have you been able to achieve all your objectives? Did you tweak some objectives to accommodate the reality of undertaking the project? Comparing “what you planned to do” with “what you did” will give you a better understanding of how successful your project was.
2. Confirm project completion with stakeholders
Stakeholders and clients are a vital part of every project, and their input is invaluable. Their opinions are so crucial to the project that it can’t be successfully completed unless the stakeholders are satisfied.
Project stakeholders need to sign off on any project, to mark its completion. So, ensure they are in the loop and aligned on how your project is progressing. Ask for their input or feedback, and follow through accordingly to get their sign-off.
Filestage makes it easy to collect feedback from stakeholders on any asset that is created during the project. With this review and approval platform, you can share files within seconds with all relevant stakeholders.
All your reviewers can leave comments directly on the file, discuss feedback with each other, and approve the final version. This allows project managers and creatives to manage the entire process in one place.
3. Confirm if project is within scope
In the beginning you’ll probably create a detailed project scope and a formal process, which you’ll then use to guide you to the completion of the project.
Has the project scope statement been met entirely? If not, is that an issue? This period of reflection can be useful for every stakeholder involved in the project.
Changes to the scope of the project during the project are quite common. However, as a project manager, you must ensure that change requests to the project scope are well documented, communicated with all team members, and implemented.
This step is also necessary, as it helps project managers prevent scope creep, which often results in the features and specifications of the final product not meeting the project’s expectations.
4. Clear pending contracts and invoices
It’s important that all of the relevant costs associated with your project are charged to it. This helps tidy up loose ends, ensures that your organization gets its money, and avoids any potential confusion in the future. Plus it prevents you from dealing with late invoices or bills.
Additionally, stakeholders will want to know if the project is within budget or not. Starting the contract closure process by clearing all pending contractors and invoices before the project is completed will give you a clear overview of expenses.
This will also highlight where you underused or exceeded the budget. Also, as a project manager, this will make gathering project records easier and help explain where there may be notable differences in the budget management.
5. Write a post-project report
A post-project report is a document where you specify details of the overall process and present your results. This report can help you to take key lessons from the project and also identify areas that can be improved for the next round. You should make an effort to share the report within your organization for maximum effectiveness.
Here are all elements that you should include in your post-project report to make it comprehensive:
- A project overview with a summary statement
- A description of the results and outcomes of the project
- A comparison of the target vs. actual accomplishments
- Project milestones and timelines, stating the project duration and schedule variance, if any
- A list of risks and issues identified and analyzed, while executing the project
- Details on how many changes were requested, describing those that were approved and implemented and how they impacted the overall project
- Details on the project cost, showing the total expenditure for the project’s completion, the difference between the projected budget and the final payments
- A summary of the essential feedback collected and lessons learned during implementation
6. Archive all documentation
Throughout the project, you probably created a lot of files and versions of deliverables. While they might seem useless at the moment, it’s vital that you properly catalog them in case you or your colleagues need them in the future.
Archiving all your project documentation ensures that the project manager has credible and extensive resources they can always reference or consult in the future.
For instance, based on the data collected from past projects, a project manager can make predictions to proactively reduce risks in new projects. This will ensure they get the best project results on time and on budget.
How can you reduce the stress of completing a project?
The closing phase of a project lifecycle isn’t typically any less tedious than any of the earlier stages.
Here are some steps that a project manager can take to prioritize their work and reduce stress for themselves and their team members, as they approach a project’s completion.
1. Make the review process simple
Your deliverables are almost ready, but last-minute changes may be requested. You can’t afford to inject confusion into the project at this stage, so it’s essential that the official process for your review is incredibly transparent and clear.
To make sure that this is the case, you’ll want to provide formal notice of updates to the project team and streamline your review and approval process, with a tool like Filestage.
2. Take your time
Now that the finish line is in sight, it can be very tempting to rush toward it, with arms outstretched in victory. But now is the time to be methodical and cautious with great quality management practices.
Slowly work your way through your project completion template and resist the temptation for premature celebration. The project will be wrapped up before you know it!
3. Share feedback
With the project wrapping up, this is the perfect time to share feedback on performance with the rest of your team. This can galvanize and motivate them, making sure that they give this last final push to the project. You can also take this opportunity to excite them for the future and the next big project.
4. Keep your team mentally engaged
Your team knows that the project has almost been completed and they’re ready to breathe a large collective sigh of relief. As the project manager, it’s your job to make sure that every member of your team remains engaged.
Making the final tweaks and the delivery of materials is a very delicate stage of the project, so you want your team at their best.
5. Enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done
At the end of the project, you should take the time to look back at the project and admire the work that you and your team have accomplished. This can keep you motivated and show you just how far you’ve come which is an important fuel to keep you rocketing through amazing digital projects.
You can even consider sending out a project completion email to your entire team where you’ll congratulate everyone on their efforts and accomplishments and highlight some important aspects of the project.
Free project completion report templates
If you need help with writing a project completion report, below are three free templates, designed to keep you organized and save time when creating project reports.
Make use of Filestage’s free template
After you’ve completed the project, you’ll want to produce a report for your superiors and the rest of the team. This can help you to assess the positives and negatives that appeared along the way and refine your approach for future projects.
Here’s a sample completion report template that you can use.
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Project completion report template by Template.net
Writing a comprehensive project report for a new business and in a way that will be presentable to your stakeholders doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to this template by Template.net.
This template has been designed by business gurus, specifically for project reports for new businesses. It’s fully customizable and can be downloaded and edited in both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.
Project closure report template by Smartsheet
If you’re drafting your finished project report, then we recommend checking out the free templates for project closeout reports by Smartsheet.
The templates provide sections for the project summary, roles and responsibilities, deliverables, project costs, schedule, and lessons learned. You can download, edit, and share the templates in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PDF.
Project completion example
Writing a report on a completed project is not as difficult as it seems. However, including all steps and details is usually not a walk in the park for project managers.
Here’s an example of a project completion report, so you have an idea of how to start when drafting your report.
- Compare objectives and reality: Does the reality of the final website delivery match the objective?
- Get confirmation from stakeholders: Do the stakeholders approve of the completed website? Are there any notes?
- Confirm project is within scope: Has the scope of the project been fully met? Were all the resources earmarked for the website creation duly utilized?
- Clear pending invoices: Have all pending invoices for procurement contracts like web designing and copywriting been cleared? And did all signed contracts end?
- Post project from and evaluations: This gives details of all the processes that you followed during the project, and all the results your team achieved at different stages of the process.
- Archiving all documentation: All documentation related to the project should be stored in an archive, for future reference.
Important tips while writing a project completion report
So, how do you go about writing a comprehensive project completion report?
Here are some tips to get you started.
Ensure that your report is as clear and concise as possible. Stay honest and factual throughout your report. Tailor your language to suit your target audience, so that there is no ambiguity in your documentation.
Your project results should be written in such a way that they’re easily understood, leaving no room for guesses, assumptions, or misunderstandings.
Consult with team members and stakeholders
As a project manager, it’s important to work hand in hand with your team members and stakeholders, throughout the project lifecycle. The contract closure process determines how well your team will work together on other projects.
So, seek out the input of your team members and stakeholders, when you’re performing project closure and writing the final project report.
It’s critical that the report provides both accurate and complete information, and achieving this could be difficult if the project manager begins closing the contract and writing the report without sending contract closure updates and considering the feedback of other collaborators.
Review all deliverables to make sure nothing is outstanding
Before you begin writing your project completion report, you should review the project goals and objectives that were stated in the project proposal. Did you produce all project deliverables? Are there any outstanding tasks you couldn’t complete within the project timeline?
Reviewing and sharing project deliverables with stakeholders is critical for the success of a project. Only when all deliverables and assets have been reviewed and approved by stakeholders will your project be completed.
Follow the process and tips we’ve provided above, to guide your project completion plan. We have also provided a variety of project completion report templates you can use to create your report, including our free template.
It’s okay if the first draft of the report is not perfect. Remember, the completion report is a summary of all efforts related to the project. You can edit and revise the content as much as you like, until you have a copy that sufficiently describes the life cycle of the completed project.