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  The Order of Activities in the Closing Process Group

Many people, who are preparing for the PMP exam, have requested me to provide the order of activities in the "Closing" process group. I also came across similar questions in various forums.

First I didn't understand where the confusion was coming from. Then I came across a sample question that specifically asks about the order of activities in the Closing process group. So I believe that's where people were coming from.

In this article, we'll review the activities in the Closing process group and see whether they follow a specific order.

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The Closing process group has only 2 processes - Close Procurements and Close Project or Phase. Simply knowing these two processes is not sufficient for the PMP exam. These processes have lot of activities that need to be understood as well. Let's start with a few basic things:
  • A project can have multiple contracts.
  • Usually, the contracts need to be closed before the project can be closed. (that's "order" for you)
  • A contract may span across multiple phases of the project. So, all the contracts may not necessarily be closed at the end of each phase of the project.
  • Not all projects are performed under contracts. So, not all projects require "Close Procurements" process.
  • Every project must have "Close Project or Phase" Process, even if the project is terminated.
  • For projects performed under contracts, the product or outcome from the contract needs to be verified only once as part of the "Close Procurements" process. In other words, if we have verified the product under the "Close Procurements" process, there's no need to verify it again as part of the "Close Project or Phase" process.
  • We get the formal sign-off on the product, before we write the (final) lessons learned. (so, there's the "order" for you again).
    Note: Usually the lessons learned are documented throughout the project.
  • We need the team's help for writing lessons learned. Therefore, we would write the lessons learned before releasing the team. (more "order")
  • Usually "releasing the team" is one of the last things in the Closing process group. (and more "order")
The main activities in the Closing process group (not necessarily in "order") are:
  • Confirm that all the requirements have been met.
  • Close Procurements. Within this process, multiple action are involved such as:
    • Verify the product.
    • Issue formal acceptance.
    • Conduct a procurement audit.
    • Report final contract performance.
    • Document lessons learned.
    • Perform financial closure of the contract (make the payments).
  • Get formal acceptance of the product (product, service or result) of the project.
  • Measure customer satisfaction.
  • Perform financial closure of the project.
  • Report final project performance.
  • Document lessons learned.
  • Update project records.
  • Archive project records.
  • Hand-off the completed product.
  • Release the team and other resources.
Now let's review the question posted in the forum. The question is:

Q. Which of the following is the correct order of actions that you take during the Closing processes?

  A. Get formal acceptance, release the team, write lessons learned, close the contract
  B. Write lessons learned, release the team, get formal acceptance, close the contract
  C. Get formal acceptance, write lessons learned, release the team, close the contract
  D. Get formal acceptance, close the contract, write lessons learned, release the team

We can easily eliminate 'A' because we need the team to write the lessons learned. Similarly, 'B' is ruled out because we need to get a formal acceptance of the product before we proceed with other administrative closures activities like writing the lessons learned. This leaves us with 'C' and 'D'. In my view, the answer could be either of them depending upon how we look at the question.

  • If we assume that the question is specifically talking about "Close Procurements" process within the Closing process group and that we are a seller organization, then 'C' seems to be the better answer.
  • But if we assume that the question is talking about the entire Closing process group, we are a buyer organization, and the project involves contract(s), then we may still need the team for other administrative closure activities (like performance reporting, documenting lessons learned from the entire project (not just from contracts), archiving records, performing customer satisfaction survey etc.) after we close the contract(s). So we may close the contracts before releasing the team. In this case, 'D' seems to be the better answer.
If I were to get this question on the PMP exam, I would go with 'D'. However, the correct answer given is 'C'.

In summary, I think it's more important to understand the activities involved in the Closing process group, rather than to know their order. If you understand the activities, it's not hard to see the inherent order. Please share your thoughts and correct me if I missed something.

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  1. Good one. Thanks for summing this up.

  2. Hello Dhanesh,

    Thanks to you for bringing up this topic in the forum.

    Best Regards.

  3. I was also having the same confusion. Fantastic article.


  4. Whether you are a buyer or seller organization, a contract is considered close only after doing financial closure of contract. And the payment terms are typically long. Any organization won't retain their resources until the payment is received/paid (depending on buyer/seller). So Close Contract should be the last activity in this sequence.

    Hence, C looks like a better choice than D.

    Harwinder, I do love your posts and reasoning. You are doing a great service to the community.

  5. Hello Sanjeev,

    Thanks for your appreciation and sharing your views. The HF book also uses the same reasoning for justifying C as the correct answer.


  6. Artical is very Nice. But I am sorry as per my suggestion correct answer is "D" only , Can you please elaborate why the correct answer is "C" as PMI.

    Please help

  7. Hello Anon.,

    As I said, my answer is also 'D'. Refer to the comments from Sanjeev above, to know the reason why 'C' is the right answer. Hope that helps.


  8. we have executed contract with IT Firm. At last stage, We accepted the deliverable, documented lesson learned and seller's IT team left the premises however after one month or so, we received close contract mail from seller (after receiving payments).. so C looks better

  9. D is correct because questions on the exam should be answered according to the right way of doing it. Also, whenever asked for such questions on the exam, always assume that you are the Buyer not the seller unless specifically told so. The teams in real life might be released from site earlier logically but they still are on standby until formal closer documents are received by the seller. so 'D' is the right answer according to PMI ethics

  10. Hi All,

    Bullet 4: Not all projects are performed under contracts, so not all projects require "Close Procurements".

    In my understanding the "Close Procurements" is only closing procurements, that is, you are the buyer.

    Can you please clarify this?

    Thanks & Regards,

  11. Hi Hardwinder,
    This is a really tricky question. This is exactly the kind of question that challenge our experience as PM. Thank you for helping us understand the ideas and concepts of the PMBoK.

  12. Harwinder, I read somewhere that, the reason you don't release the team before closing the contract is because sometimes you need help from your team to close the contract,hence the answer D is correct. But this is just opinion and I am not a PMP. Yet!

  13. Question: Which of the following is the correct order of actions that you take during the closing processes?
    A. Get formal acceptance, release the team, write lessons learned, close the contract
    B. Write lessons learned, release the team, get formal acceptance, close the contract
    C. Get formal acceptance, write lessons learned, hand over deliverable to stakeholder(s), close the contract
    D. Get formal acceptance, close the contract, write lessons learned, release the team

    Explanation : Answer (c) Get formal acceptance, write lessons learned, hand over deliverable to stakeholder(s), close the contract. One important fact is that you need your team’s help when you’re writing the lessons learned. That’s why you can’t release the team until the lessons learned are documented and added to the organizational process assets. Also, the last thing you do on the project is close the contract. Remember, release the project team is no longer part of closing as per the new RDS study conducted by PMI.

    I selectd anser D and it says C is corect asper new RDS rule

    1. What is reference to RDS? Please clarify. Explanation given above is confusing. Need expert judgment.


  14. I chose "D" as the answer as well but the website shows "C" as the correct answer. Now, I'm confused because I saw a different question from a different mock test which states "what is the LAST activity you do in closing?", and the answer is "release team."

    If we are talking about the sequence of when the activities should occur, I still stand that "D" is correct. Because we would start the closing the contract prior to releasing the team, at least in my experience. And I understand that the contract may not be "officially closed" due to waiting for payment and final paperwork. But the action of closing the contract is before releasing the team.

    But if we are asking the order of when events are finally completed, then I can understand answer "C" as correct.

    And I check PMBOK but found nothing definitive. Any other suggestions?

    1. Please refer to the latest PMP Exam Content Outline (Aug 2011). It will give you a better idea. Follow that document as a guideline for the exam.

    2. I did more research and found the PMI Exam Content Outline and in that document, it is answer "C". But then I also read other articles that state you should still use PMBOK as the primary source. However, in PMBOK, the closing activities are not listed in any specific order.

  15. Nicely written article...Absolutely no confusion. When I was attempting the same question, I marked the option D. But it was wrong and the answer was C in some online mock tests.

    I was not convinced with the answer and then I followed the "PMP Examination Content Outline_2010". No doubt for the above question option D is the correct one.

  16. Close Procurements is a step within Procurement Management, under Execution, NOT part of the Close Project process. The process within Closing Process Group is the Close Contract, if there is one, with an external Customer, the contract who's terms define thework of the Project team,not its vendors/subcontractprs


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