The Closing Process Phase is the last phase of the Project Management Lifecycle (PMLC) and begins once the project’s product is accepted and transferred to the support organization, or a decision is made to suspend or cancel the project. The completion of all project closing activities signifies the formal ending of all project work. The purpose of the closing activities is to confirm custody of the project’s products, deliverables, and documentation, and to document lessons learned for future reference.  In multi-phase projects, this process phase may be applied at various project stages, such as upon a deliverable or phase completion.

See a graphic of all six Key Elements of the Closing Process Phase in the Additional Resources chapter. For a broader view, the CA-PMF Key Elements Table (.pdf) compiles all Key Elements across the Project Management Lifecycle (PMLC). This 11 x 17 inch document can be downloaded and printed for easy reference.

Each process phase Key Element is discussed independently below. Click on a Key Element title to expand the view and see the additional content.

The following recommended practices are intended to assist the project team as the project is wrapped up and formally ended in the Closing Process Phase.

Recognition is a Must
It is advisable to acknowledge the project team and others who contributed time and talent to the project. Even if the project was suspended or canceled, take time to thank people for their effort and acknowledge those that went “above and beyond.” Recognize project team members for high-quality work and celebrate the project team’s accomplishments.

Lessons Learned is Not Optional
There can be a tendency for project team members to feel that they are just going through the motions during lessons learned sessions in order to “check the boxes,” and participation can be a challenge.

Instead, promote lessons learned sessions as an important opportunity to capture what went well and what could be done better next time. Position sessions as learning and growth opportunities for the organization, the project team, and other staff.

To continuously improve throughout the project lifecycle, lessons learned can be completed at any time during a project and not just at the end. They can be collected at each phase, deployment of a module, any time the project has achieved a significant milestone, or has overcome a significant challenge. And while capturing lessons learned is a beneficial retrospective activity, remember that resulting improvements must be effectively implemented to bring the most value to the project and organization.

Don’t Forget the PIER
The PIER is the last post-project review and provides a record of the project history. This activity is important as taking the time to complete helps to improve future projects.

The following table identifies primary participant roles and responsibilities for this process phase. In some cases, a project might have unique requirements that call for additional roles or responsibilities depending on the project’s size, type, and complexity.

Definitions of all roles referenced in the CA-PMF is provided in Project Role Definitions in the Additional Resources chapter.



Executive Sponsor(s)

  • Provides support, encouragement, and recognition to the project team.

Project Sponsor

  • Provides sign-off on the final product(s).
  • Approves transfer of any open issues.
  • Supports project closing activities.
  • Ensures appropriate resources are available to conduct closing activities.
  • Participates in lessons learned sessions.
  • Participates in project celebration activities.
  • Assigns ownership of the PIER.
  • Approves the project for closing.

IT Sponsor

  • Confirms satisfactory completion of all transition activities.
  • Approves transfer of open issues accepted by the IT Department.
  • Supports project closing activities.
  • Ensures appropriate IT resources are available to conduct closing activities.
  • Participates in lessons earned sessions.
  • Participates in project celebration activities.

IT Product Owner(s)

  • Confirms that all deliverables necessary to operate and support the product are complete and suitable for their intended use.

Project Manager

  • Leads the project closing effort and ensures all process phase tasks and milestones are completed.

Transition Support Lead

  • Assists the IT System Owner with transitioning products or completed deliverables to the M&O organization.

Project Support Staff

  • Supports the Project Manager with project closing activities.

The following processes are associated with this process phase. The list below contains a high-level description of these processes. See the Processes and Activities section of the Closing chapter in the CA-PMF for more detail.

  • Prepare for Project Closure - When a project is in the Closing Process Phase, the Project Manager ensures that all project work is finished and that the project has met its objectives. The first activity in preparation for closing is reviewing project documentation. This  typically includes the Project Management Plan (PMP), Issue Log, any open contracts, the State Contracting Manual, and the instructions for the Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER).
  • Closeout Project Artifacts - All project artifacts must be closed and archived during this process phase. This includes verifying acceptance of all project deliverables, resolving or transferring ownership of open issues, completing the final project status report, and archiving the final project records.
  • Conduct Lessons Learned - Comprehensive lessons learned can be invaluable to the sponsoring organization and its future project teams. The objective of lessons learned is to identify the positive and negative lessons learned from the project, promote the methods and procedures that led to success, and recommended corrective actions for the things that didn’t go as well as planned.
  • Celebrate Success – Celebration of success is a key closing process that can be motivating and rewarding for a project team. Celebration focuses on the effective and innovative work the staff contributed to project success and encourages effective work on future projects.
  • Administrative Closeout - The process of closing out a project includes many important “nuts and bolts” administrative actions. These include closing out any open contracts in accordance with the State Contracting Manual, completing project financials, releasing remaining staff, releasing facilities and other resources, and completing the Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER).
  • Closing Process Phase Review - Upon the accomplishment of all Closing Phase Process Activities, the Project Manager completes the Closing Process Phase Checklist and submits it and supporting documentation to the Project Sponsor. The Sponsor reviews the documentation and if satisfied approves closing the project.

The following activities are undertaken in support of the processes that are associated with this process phase. The list below contains a high-level description of these activities. See the Processes and Activities section of the Closing chapter in the CA-PMF for more detail.

  • Verify Acceptance of All Project Deliverables - The Project Manager verifies the acceptance of all project deliverables and the completion of all end product transition activities. This ensures that the customer has validated the project scope  and that the project’s deliverables are complete and delivered as agreed to by all parties. Deliverables acceptance is based on the success criteria defined in the earlier process phases of the project. Acceptance is formal and must be approved by the Project Sponsor(s).
  • Resolve  or Transfer Ownership of Open Issues - The Project Manager must verify that all issues remaining open are either resolved or that the issues’ ownership is transferred outside of the project (such as to Maintenance and Operations).  Transfer of open issues must be formally documented and approved by both the Project Sponsor and the party accepting ownership.
  • Complete Final Project Status Report - The Project Closeout Report communicates the final status and disposition of a project. This report documents completion of the project’s closing activities and provides the final project performance measures (such as involving schedule, budget, quality, and issues). It is separate from the Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER).
  • Archive Final Project Records - All records, both electronic and hard copy, should be stored according to the project and organizational record retention rules and guidelines. Technical records should be made accessible to the maintenance and operation staff responsible for the project’s end product. Archived project documentation typically includes but is not limited to the Project Charter; project plans; deliverables; project reports and checklists; contract-related files; design specifications and other technical documents; issue, risk and change logs; lessons learned; and the Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER).
  • Conduct Lessons Learned - The main purpose of documenting lessons learned is to collect, use, and share knowledge derived from experience to promote the recurrence of desirable outcomes and prevent the recurrence of undesirable outcomes. Surveys or lessons learned meetings can be used to elicit feedback from project team members regarding their impressions and assessments of the project. Lessons learned provides a valuable forum for the project team to acknowledge what worked well, and it provides a chance to discuss ideas to improve processes and procedures.
  • Celebrate Success - When a project is successfully completed, genuine recognition and positive feedback should be provided to the project team and individual project members for their project-related efforts. Even if a project is suspended or canceled, celebrate what the team was able to accomplish and what it learned from the experience.
  • Conduct Contract Closeout - Contract closeout verifies that all work is completed correctly and as agreed upon, and that all contract records are updated and archived. The Project Manager will reference the State Contracting Manual for required activities. The Project Manager may consult the project’s Contract Manager, and/or procurement specialists from the agency or the California Department of Technology (CDT). Contract closure includes confirming the project has addressed the terms and conditions of the contract, verifying completion and acceptance of all contract deliverables, finalizing all payments, completing and archiving contract files, and completing Contractor Evaluations (Form STD. 4) for professional services.
  • Complete Project Financials - As specified in the project’s Cost Management Plan, the Project Manager works with project staff and the sponsoring organization’s accounting or budget analysts to ensure the capturing and recording of all project costs and the disencumbering of any unused budget allocations.
  • Release Staff - Most project staff team members and contractors generally are released at the end of the Executing Process Phase or during the early stages of the Closing Process Phase. The project follows the processes and timing outlined in its HR and Staff Management Plan and applicable contract documents.
  • Release Facilities and Resources – Many closing activities relate to the release of facilities and resources that have been used by the project. These activities include notifying the appropriate business services office of space vacancy/availability, closing out any lease agreements, and returning computers and related equipment to the IT office. Other activities include terminating network and computer access for staff and contractors as they are released, and collecting building and security access badges.
  • Complete Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER) - The PIER is the last post-project review and provides a record of the project’s history. The PIER should be submitted to the Department of Technology (CDT) within the Department’s required time frame. Its sections include project background and summary of results, attainment of objectives, lessons learned, corrective actions, project management schedule, and economic summary. Section 50 of the Statewide Information Management Manual (SIMM) contains “Instructions for Completing the Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER).” These instructions describe in detail when a PIER is required, its contents, and procedures for submission and approval.
  • Complete the Closing Process Phase Checklist - The Closing Process Phase Checklist identifies the key activities and dates that are completed during the Closing Process Phase of a project. Once all of the activities within the Closing Process Phase are complete, the checklist should be completed to verify completion of closing activities and that the project is ready for closure.

A number of project management outputs are developed during the Closing Process Phase. The outputs are associated with tools available for your use.

For a complete list of all tools that are part of the CA-PMF see the templates page. A list and definitions of all Templates referenced in the CA-PMF is provided in Which Templates Should I Use and When? section in the Templates chapter.

Tool/ Output


Lessons Learned

The lessons learned documentation represents knowledge and experience gained during the project. It documents how project events were addressed, and how they should be addressed in the future, with the purpose of improving future performance.

Project Status Reports (Oversight)

The final Project Status Report communicates an appraisal of project closing activities to the Project Sponsor(s) and key Stakeholders identified in the Communication Management Plan. This also concludes the reporting of project status and tasks and makes note of issues or items that will be handled once the project has been closed.

Project Closeout Report

The project closeout report documents the final and remaining activities of the project.

Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER) (Oversight)


The PIER must be submitted to the Department of Technology (CDT) within the Department’s required time frame.  It contains six sections:

  1. Background and Summary of Results
  2. Attainment of Objectives
  3. Lessons Learned
  4. Corrective Actions
  5. Project Management Schedule
  6. Economic Summary

Closing Process Phase Checklist

Identifies the key activities that are to be completed during the Closing Process Phase.

The following deliverables are created as a result of the processes and activities completed during this process phase; these are called outputs. Many of these have an associated CA-PMF tool for you to use. These are described in the tools section. The outputs associated with this process phase are listed below:

  • Completed Issue Log
  • Completed Risk Register
  • Completed Change Request Log
  • Completed Lessons Learned documentation
  • Completed Final Status Report(s) (Oversight)
  • Completed Post Implementation Evaluation Report (PIER) (Oversight)
  • Completed Closing Process Phase Checklist