'There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently
that which should not be done at all'.
Project Closedown — More Important than Initiation?
Nazareth, OpEx Solutions
and Jim Sullivan, PMP. Motorola Solutions
If workplace organization, or 5S, is the most
significant catalyst for continuous improvement, then close-down activity at the end of each project, regardless of size,
is probably the most crucial phase for project management.
In project management,
good requirements gathering has been stressed as the key to successful projects; however, closedowns are almost perfunctory.
The close-down activity is equally, if not more, important to the continued performance of the project or recurrences of similar
In most organizations, it is common for more than 75% of the projects
run over budget and time. The project team, including the project manager, are typically redeployed from one project to the
next based on a higher level plan which typically has overlap, rather than slack, between projects. When project timelines
slip (which occurs in most cases), the last part of the project is always a hastily executed flurry of activity. The team
is working long hours just get the project done. In addition, they are technically on another project as well. This issue
gets worse if the team is assigned to a project with a different project manager who wants to have a prompt start for the
new project. In these situations, when the team is burnt out, the project has been completed late and the next project has
already kicked off, closedown is the most likely victim of the time crunch.
A poorly executed closedown can have devastating effects in the long run. Consider some of the issues
related to a rushed or shoddy closedown:
- The closedown may be passed on to a “junior”
member of the team who doesn’t have the breadth of knowledge of the project to know what is missing.
- The final punchlist of a project may be passed on to someone who is not familiar with the issues that might have
cropped up during the other phases of the project and without followup from the original project manager, the ball could be
- The safety, security, protection of both personnel and equipment could be put at risk
if the proper documentation is not completed at closedown.
- Asbuilts may not be what the original
installation showed due to regulatory or requirement changes. Change orders need to be gathered and final asbuilt documentation
must be created from the original design modifications.
- Drawings of the asbuilts are required
for maintenance, safety, and future upgrades.
- Asbuilts documentation should be considered input
requirements for the next similar project.
- Closedown reviews should be held internally
with the team and externally with the customer to ensure a full assessment of the actual project execution.
- Lessons Learned documentation is vital in order to repeat success and to avoid future mistakes: “Those who
cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana)
- Not surfacing
problems early will result in costly disasters during the early phases of launch.
Toyota Benchmarks Continuous
Continuing the CenTex OpEx Consortium focus on Continuous
Improvement (CI), Toyota hosted a benchmarking session on CI (kaizen) at their San Antonio Plant on February 4, 2015. Twenty-eight
participants from eleven organizations shared their valuable input, benefiting both the host and participants in their journey
of operational excellence.
Toyota shared their expertise in the kaizen approach and how Toyota puts into practice their continuous
improvement. Toyota views kaizen as: "The continuous pursuit to close the gap between current and ideal." Their
quote from Taiichi Ohno sums up the Toyota philosophy: " Wasteful action is not work."
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