The ultimate project completion guide (incl. checklist and free templates)

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, as well as challenges to improve project management processes for future projects. In this article, we will walk you through how to complete a project and provide a guide on how to write a comprehensive project completion report. 

What is successful project completion?

In project management, successful project completion means you have delivered what you agreed on in the scope of the project, while ensuring that all acceptance criteria have been met, the stakeholders are satisfied, and business objectives have been fulfilled. 

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 all project completion criteria have been met. This is why it’s essential for project managers to always have a project completion process and checklist that will keep the team on the same page and guide them through the final phase of the project. 

Following the project completion checklist ensures that your team is doing meaningful tasks in the project completion stage.

Project Completion Checklist

1. Compare objectives and reality

At the beginning of every project, a project manager sets objectives and goals for the project team members, which should have been achieved by the time of the project closure. Now, in 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 a project 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 on the project. 

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. 

They can then leave comments directly on the file, discuss feedback with each other, and approve the version, once they’re happy with it. This allows project managers and creatives to manage the entire process in one place. 

Confirm project completion with stakeholders

3. Confirm if project is within scope 

At the beginning of your project, you will have created a robust project scope and formal process, which was then used to shape your project and guide it to completion. 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 the project 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, 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 a clear overview of expenses and 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 variances in the budget management.

5. Write a post-project report 

A post-project report details the overall process that was followed and the results that were achieved. This report can help you to take key lessons from the project and also identify any areas that can be improved for the next round. This report should be shared within your organization for maximum effectiveness. 

For a post-project report to be comprehensive, it must include the following elements: 

  • 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 those might seem useless now, it’s vital that they are properly cataloged and filed away for late, on the off-chance that they are needed. 

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 is to ensure they can 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.

Simplify the review process - project completion

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 and vigilant. 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

Of course, you should also 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 – important fuel to keep you rocketing through amazing digital projects.

Free project completion report templates 

If you need help with writing a project completion report, below are three free templates, designed to help with project reports, to keep you organized and save time.

Make use of Filestage’s free template 

After having 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. 

FREE TEMPLATE

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Project completion report template by Template.net

Project completion report template - Template.net

Writing a comprehensive project report for a new business, 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 

Project closure report template - 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, it’s usually not a walk in the park for project managers, either. Here’s an example of a project completion report, so you have an idea of how to start when drafting your report. 

Now, assuming we’re writing the report for the completion of a new website, this is what the project report summary would include, based on the project description plan described above. 

  1. Compare objectives and reality: Does the reality of the final website delivery match the objective?  
  2. Get confirmation from stakeholders: Do the stakeholders approve of the completed website? Are there any notes? 
  3. 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?
  4. Clear pending invoices: Have the pending invoices for procurement contracts like web designing, copywriting, etc.,  involved in the project plan been cleared and all signed contracts ended?
  5. Post project evaluations: This details all the processes that were followed and all the results achieved at different stages of the website creation process. 
  6. 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. 

Remove ambiguity

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 it’s 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 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 if all deliverables and assets have been reviewed and approved by stakeholders can the project be completed. 

Conclusion

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.

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