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