14.0 Manage Governance


Formally closing the program allows you to complete a large set of activities to transition resources and leverage program knowledge. If the program deliverables are implemented and the team immediately disbands, you don’t have an opportunity to wrap up the loose ends, do staff evaluations, document key learnings or ensure that appropriate deliverables are transitioned to operations. Of course, a program can end unsuccessfully as well. Even in this case, there are key learnings, team evaluations and other wrap-up activities to make the most of what was done on the program.

When the program schedule is created, think about the activities that need to be performed to gracefully and appropriately close the program. These activities include:

  • Hold program conclusion meeting. A meeting should be held with the Program Office, Program Sponsor and appropriate stakeholders to formally conclude the program.

  • An agenda for the conclusion meeting should focus on what the program was supposed to accomplish and what the program actually accomplished. The discussion should lead to a set of key learnings that describe what went well and what didn’t work. The agenda would be as follows:

  • Discuss the purpose of the meeting

  • Develop ground rules (optional)

  • List what the program should have achieved

  • Describe what the program actually achieved

  • Discuss “why” for any discrepancies between “should do” and “actually did”

  • Agree on a set of lessons-learned for future projects. This includes techniques and processes that worked especially well, or especially poorly. If your organization has a way to publish or leverage these key learnings, they should be sent to the appropriate group.

  • List and document any remaining work required to close the project. This includes activities such as those described below.

  • Declare success or failure. Sometimes it is obvious the program was completely successful and in other cases the program is a total failure. However, in many cases, there are mixed results. For instance, the major deliverables may have been completed, but the program was over budget. Or, the program delivered on time and within budget, but the solution only met 80% of the business requirements. The key to declaring success is to define up-front what the success criteria are. The Program Office should first rate itself against those criteria, and then take the recommendation to the Program Sponsor for validation.

  • Transition the solution to operations (if applicable). If the solution will exist outside of the project, it should be transitioned to the appropriate operations organization. The transition includes knowledge transfer to the operations team, completion and turnover of all documentation, turnover of the list of remaining work, etc. If this is an IT program there may also be deliverables that are transitioned to a support group.

  • Turn over program files (if applicable). A discussion should take place with the operations organization to determine which program materials should be turned over to the operations group. Based on this agreement, some of the program material may be deleted or destroyed, backed-up, archived, etc. Those files and documents needed by the operations organization should be turned over to them to store in the appropriate long-term library or folders.

  • Conduct performance reviews. If the program was substantial, it may be appropriate to do performance reviews after the program closes. In this case, the manager of the program manager and the Program Sponsor evaluate the program manager. The program manager can, in turn, provide performance reviews on any remaining Program Office staff.  

  • Reassign the remaining Program Office team. Any remaining Program Office team members should be reassigned when all the termination activities are completed. For some people, this may mean completely new projects and programs. For contract people, it may mean the end of their assignments. For part-timers, it may mean a return to their other full-time role.

It is the responsibility of the program manager to build program closure activities into the program schedule. These should be seen as vital parts of the program, not an afterthought as the team is getting disbanded. The program is not considered complete until the closure activities are performed.

Close Contracts (90.0.P2)

Your program may have required the assistance of vendors for people, hardware, software, supplies, etc. Generally speaking, these program-specific contracts should be closed as a part of terminating the project. Of course, some contracts are broader than your project, and these will remain open. You may have an open contract with a consulting firm, for instance, and you may have opened a Statement of Work for the specific services provided on your project. In that case, the general contract would remain open, but the specific Statement of Work would be closed. It is also very likely that all invoices have not been paid (or even submitted) when the project officially ends. The project manager or the appropriate contracts administrator should be responsible for closing these project-specific contracts after all outstanding bills have been paid. The program manager is responsible for closing any program-specific contracts that are still open at the end of the program.

Contract closure involves both product verification, that is verifying that the work was done, and administrative closeout, the updating of all contract records. Contract records are very important and include the contract itself and other relevant documentation such as progress reports, financial records, invoices, and payment records. These are often kept in a contract file, which should be part of the complete project file. Contract documentation is also important should a procurement audit be initiated. Such an audit is a structured review of the procurement process from procurement planning through contract administration. The purpose of the audit is to identify success and failures that warrant transfer to other procurement items on the current project or future projects.

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