The Order of Activities in the Closing Process Group

5 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

Order of Closing processes of PMBOK Guide 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.

Closing Process Group from the PMBOK® Guide

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")

Activities it the Closing Process Group

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.

Sample Question on the Order of Closing processes

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.

Image credit: Flickr / Mrkathika

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Missing Avatar

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.

Missing Avatar

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

Missing Avatar

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

Missing Avatar

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,

Missing Avatar

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.

Missing Avatar

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!

Missing Avatar

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

Missing Avatar

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?

Missing Avatar

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.

PMP Exam Content Outline

Missing Avatar

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.

Missing Avatar

Close procurements occur in the Procurement Process, not in the Close Project process grouop. The "contract" in the Closing Process group is the contract with the Customer,if ther is such a contract (i.e., not an internal project)

Missing Avatar

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

Adeel Ahmed Ansari Avatar

C. Get formal acceptance, write lessons learned, release the team, close the contract

The confusion for me here is how can we release the team before the contract is closed?

case 1 - If the "Contract" here means contract with a vendor ( we are buyer and vendor is supplying team/labour to do work for us), If we release the team and any issue arises while closing the contract that needs team members to address the issue we would not have team available because we have released the team before closing the contract !

Case 2 - if contract here means we are the supplier and have team members working for project and the contract is with the buyer. if we release the team before closing the contract and there arises some issues at the time of contract closure then we will not have team members available !

Please clarify how can we release the team before closing the contract and what "Close contract" really means?


Harwinder Singh Avatar


I mentioned 2 possibilities and 2 different answers for those 2 cases. Your Case 1 is option D and your Case 2 is option C. For Case 1, releasing the team would be the last step. For your Case 2, usually you would not hold the team while the final payment is pending.

On the exam, you should assume that your organization is the buyer, unless stated otherwise.

Hope that helps.

Abhinav Kumar Avatar

Hello All,

Highly important coverage from PMBOK 6th edition. Here these are: -
1. "Close Project phase is the process of finalizing all the activities for the project, phase or contract." This implies that everything comes under project closure (Rule-1) i.e. project closure is the last stage.

2. PMBOK exam outline mention three major tasks in sequence (Rule-2) i.e.

2.1 Formal sign-off from customer to confirm that project scope and deliverable(s) are achieved.

2.2 Hand-off deliverable(s) to assigned stakeholders to facilitate project closure. (Hard reality that nobody gives money before having the product in hand, true in most cases).

2.3 Obtain financial, legal & administrative closure to formally close the project and transfer the liabilities of the project (if any). (This is the crux to understand which resolves our confusion)

2.3.1Now, when we go back to PMBOK-6th edition, it explicitly mentioned there that contract closure comes under administrative closure but this is outside and after the exit criteria for the phase or project (Rule-3). This implies that before moving to any other administrative activity one need to ensure the exit criteria is fulfilled. This exit criteria involves some activities like reallocation/reassignment (instead of release) of resources, etc. As a matter of fact, there is no sequence of activities under the exit criteria but overall it needs to be fulfilled . So, reassigning of personnel (instead of releasing team) comes before closure of any contract(s) within the project closure.

2.3.2 Rest of Administrative activities including lesson learned and measuring customer satisfaction, audit, archive project information, etc can be performed in parallel but after fulfilling the exit criteria. The sole aim is to complete administrative activities (Rule-4).

So, if anyone apply Rule 1,2,3 & 4…questions in this context can be easily resolved as per PMBOK 6th edition reference. Forget about everything else.

In the question, we can easily deduce that we are talking about the contract. Remember, contract comes under administrative closure but after fulfilling the exit criteria(Rule-3). Acceptance of deliverable(s) comes first (Rule-2). Though by applying these two rule only answer is ‘C’. But, for every one information, lesson learned is not a sequenced activity rather it is done through out the project. And last but not the least "Release the team" comes under the exit criteria prior to contract closure, so this also fits to option ‘C’.

Hope I might have clarified every’one doubt.

Stav Avatar

Hello, I appreciate the post, although a bit confused as to where the “exit criteria” is mentioned? You say that first we get formal acceptance, then hand over deliverables and then perform financial, legal and administrative closure… where is the exit criteria mentioned that you say it comes before administrative closure?
Thank you.