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PMP Certification All-in-One For Dummies
By Cynthia Stackpole Snyder
John Wiley & SonsCopyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
All rights reserved.
Closing Your Contracts and Your Project
[check] Confirm that the project scope and deliverables are complete by attaining final acceptance by the project sponsor and customer.
[check] Facilitate project closure by transferring ownership and management of project deliverables.
[check] Formally close the project and all contracts by obtaining legal, financial, and administrative closure, thus eliminating further liability.
[check] Write the final project report that communicates final project performance, including any variances and project issues. Distribute to appropriate stakeholders.
[check] Conduct a thorough project review to collect and document lessons learned and contribute them to the organization's knowledge base.
[check] Collect, organize, and archive project and contract documents and records to comply with regulatory requirements, retain for future projects, and be available for audit purposes.
[check] Gain customer and stakeholder feedback to determine satisfaction level, enhance relationships, and provide constructive project evaluation.
There are a lot of exam objectives for the Closing process group even though it only has two processes: Close Project or Phase and Close Procurements. In this chapter, you see that the actions needed to conduct an effective close-out are similar regardless of whether you are closing a procurement, a phase, or a project.
Closure does not occur only at the end of the project. You can conduct closure activities at any time in the project. Keep in mind that one of the processes is Close Project or Phase. You will be closing out some phases of the project early in the project life cycle. In addition, you will perform close-out activities on procurements as they are completed instead of waiting until the end of the project to close out procurements.
Knowledge and Skills for the Closing Processes
Closing processes don't just happen at the end of a project. They happen whenever you close a procurement or a phase. Keep the following list of cross-cutting skills in mind as you read through the information in this chapter.
* Information management tools, techniques, and methods
* Targeting communications to intended audiences
FOR THE EXAM
Questions in the Closing process group account for 8% of the exam. You should expect 16 questions on the two processes in this process group.
Closing Your Procurements
Close Procurements is one of the two closing processes. This process supports the Close Project or Phase process but doesn't necessarily happen at the same time. However, to close the project, all procurements must be closed. The exception to this is if you have open claims or appeals. Open claims are handled by the legal department.
Because contracts are legal documents, the project manager does not usually have the authority to close them out. Generally, the project manager will inform a contract administrator that the contract project work has been completed. It is then up to the contract administrator to formally close out the contract.
Close Procurements. Completing each procurement.
To close out a procurement, you use the procurement management plan for the details and guidelines associated with contract closure. All procurement documents need to be indexed for lessons learned and future reference. Procurement documents include performance reports, invoices, and contractual change documentation. Your organization may use information from contractor performance reports and documentation to evaluate contractors for future work.
Terminating a contract
Contracts can be terminated for a variety of reasons, such as termination by mutual agreement, termination for cause, and termination for convenience.
Terminating a contract by mutual agreement is self-explanatory. If both parties agree that the contract should be cancelled, they need to follow the requirements in the termination clause of the contract. Termination for cause and termination for convenience have different contractual obligations associated with them, so look at both of those methods of termination a little closer.
Termination for cause
Termination for cause occurs when either party has breached or is about to breach the contract. This is also known as defaulting on the contract.
Here are two examples of seller default:
* The seller can't deliver the quality of work promised, and there is no evidence that the seller will be able to.
* The clause Time is of the Essence is in the contract, and it's abundantly clear that the seller can't meet the delivery date. (Read more about Time is of the Essence in Book VIII, Chapter 3.)
The following are examples of buyer default:
* The buyer is in significant arrears for payment, and it's obvious that the buyer can't catch up on back payments and make future payments.
* The buyer is obligated to provide some element or component of the deliverable for the seller to be able to complete the contract. If the buyer doesn't deliver the element, the buyer is defaulting on its part of the contract.
Terminating for convenience
Many contracts have a clause that allows the buyer to terminate the contract at its convenience. Examples of reasons to terminate for convenience include the following:
* Another project takes higher priority, and the company decides to cancel or delay the current project.
* The market changes, and there is no longer a need for the project.
* Because of a reorganization, new leadership has other priorities.
* Financial landscape has shifted. A company's quarterly earnings were worse than expected, and the organization has decided to cut costs based on projected earnings.
A contract terminated for convenience doesn't reflect poorly on either party. It just means there is no longer a need for the contracted goods.
Depending on the reason for termination (cause or convenience), there is a difference in the compensation due to the seller. If a contract is terminated for cause, the buyer need only reimburse the seller for the accepted work. However, if the contract is terminated for convenience, the buyer must reimburse the seller for accepted work and any preparations for work and any partially completed work. Here's a scenario from my running childcare center example.
You get a call from the sponsor, Morgan Cuthbert, to come to her office right away. When you get there, Morgan informs you that she has great news. The cafeteria vendor has informed her that it can reorganize the kitchen area and make room for a separate food storage and food prep area for the childcare center. The cafeteria is adjacent to the childcare center, so by building a simple doorway, you will have plenty of kitchen space. This is great news because you can use the planned kitchen space for other activities for the childcare center.
Although this is good news, you realize that the kitchen contractor, Kit's Kitchens, has already drawn up plans for the kitchen, laid in the rough plumbing, and preordered some cabinets. You understand that you have to terminate Kit's contract and pay for any work in progress. Upon returning to your desk, you call the kitchen contractor and set up a meeting.
At the meeting, you explain the situation to Kit and assure her that you have every intention of paying for completed work, work in progress, and any preparation for future work.
The following week you meet with Kit again. She tallied expenses for work in progress for the electrician, plumber, and carpenter. You think the expenses are fair and agree to them. There is a $500 cancellation fee for the cabinets. You talk with the general contractor to see whether the cabinets can be used anywhere else in the childcare center so you don't have to count the $500 as a total loss. It turns out that you can use the cabinets for art supplies and sleeping mats. Therefore, you decide to keep the cabinet order as is.
At the end of the meeting, you agree to provide all the documentation to the contract administrator and get the invoices through the system. You assure Kit that you will move ahead with contract closure and get her payment as soon as possible.
In this scenario, the contract termination was in no way a reflection of the work that Kit provided. The contract will go through the termination process, the buyer will compensate the seller fairly, and the contract will be closed.
FOR THE EXAM
The roles and responsibilities associated with early contract termination should be clearly documented in the contract.
Close Procurements: Tools and Techniques
When closing contracts, you need to make sure all claims are resolved. You should also review the entire procurement process so you can learn from the current procurement to improve future procurements. I talk about both techniques in the following sections.
In the event of a disagreement that the contracted parties can't resolve via negotiation, they need to follow the dispute resolution clause in the contract. Most contracts require the parties to enter into some type of mediation or arbitration. Some contracts require the issue be resolved by using one of these forms of ADR, and others require that ADR be tried before the least appealing alternative of litigation. (Read more about ADR, mediation, and arbitration in Book VIII, Chapter 4.)
When the issue or claim can't be resolved while the project is active, the claim may remain open even though the project has been closed.
A procurement audit is a formal review of the procurement process on a single procurement, or for the procurement process used on the project as a whole. The purpose is to review each process in the procurement to identify those areas that worked well as well as those areas that can be improved in the future.
The audit begins by looking at the procurement planning process:
* Was the make-or-buy analysis complete?
* Was the contract type appropriate?
* How effective was the procurement management plan?
* Did the statement of work (SOW) accurately reflect the work that needed to be done without saying how it should be done?
* Were the procurement bid documents complete?
* Were the source selection criteria appropriate?
The procurement audit should also review the following information for conducting procurements:
* Were a sufficient number of qualified sellers identified?
* Did the bidder conference go smoothly and answer all bidder questions? (See Book VI, Chapter 3.)
* Did the procurement negotiations end up with a win-win situation?
* Was the contract developed and signed in a timely manner?
* Was the contract complete without requiring numerous changes and revisions?
* Was the contract sufficiently clear so as not to result in numerous disputes and misunderstandings?
While administering the contract, the procurement audit will assess the following:
* How well contract changes were handled
* Performance reports and performance reviews
* How well inspections at the seller location went
* The effectiveness of the payment system
* The completeness and organization of the project records
* How well disputes and issues were handled
When auditing vendors, you want to record areas that worked well and areas that should be improved the next time. This information can be used the next time a similar procurement is needed.
A sample procurement audit form is shown in Figure 1-1. The form is generic, but it shows the type of information that you would gather for a procurement audit.
Close Procurements: Outputs
A key part of closing a contract is reviewing the SOW and ensuring that all elements are complete and accepted. You should go through the deliverables list to make sure that all the deliverables meet the contractual requirements, all procedures and contract clauses were followed, and also that all the technical and other contract documentation is available.
It's a good practice to formally accept deliverables throughout the life of the contract, especially for large contracts. Closing the contract should merely formalize all the accepted work that has been delivered. After you accept all the work, you notify the contract administrator that the terms of the contract have been met. The contract administrator can then take the necessary steps to formally close out the contract.
Because a contract is a legal document, it's important to collect and archive all procurement documentation and correspondence. The following is a partial list of information that you need to collect, index, and archive:
* Invoices and payment history
* Performance reports
* Technical documentation
* Contract change requests
* Corrective action reports
* Contract disputes and their resolutions
* Performance evaluations
The contract documentation is a part of the overall project documentation that you need to archive prior to project closure. The following sections take a look at that final process.
FOR THE EXAM
Procurements need to be closed out from the legal, financial, and administrative perspectives. Legally, you need to make sure the statement of work is complete and also that all deliverables have been formally accepted. Administratively, you want to make sure that all the terms and conditions of the contract have been followed and also that the procurement documentation has been appropriately archived. Financially, you need to make sure all the payments have been made, including award fees, incentive fees, and fixed fees as appropriate.
Close Project or Phase
The Close Project or Phase process marks the culmination of a phase in the project life cycle or the completion of the entire project.
Close Project or Phase. Finalizing all activities across all Project Management process groups to formally complete the project or phase.
Close Project or Phase: Inputs
To formally close a phase in the project life cycle or the entire project, you need to compare the accepted deliverables to the information in the project management plan. Remember: "Accepted deliverables" are an output from the Validate Scope process (see Book VII, Chapter 2).
At the end of a phase, you should get formal approval and acceptance for any completed deliverables. At the end of the project, you have all accepted deliverables, the approvals for each deliverable, and the final approval and acceptance for the final product.
The project management plan
The project management plan documents the project life cycle and has instructions on how to close out a project phase. Each phase has specific deliverables that need to be complete and accepted before it can be considered closed. Oftentimes, additional criteria need to be met before considering a phase closed. Some examples are identified in the following section.
Organizational process assets
Your organizational process assets (OPAs) describe phase and project closure guidelines. Examples of phase closure criteria include
* Performance reviews: At the end of the phase, the project sponsor and/ or customer along with the project management team discuss the performance metrics for the phase and the project overall. They look at the risk events that occurred during the current phase, the status of issues, and any corrective actions that need to be taken.
* Project management plan updates: The end of a phase is a good time to make sure that all the elements of the project management plan are accurate and up to date. Some project managers wait for a phase gate to update the plans with the latest version.
Excerpted from PMP Certification All-in-One For Dummies by Cynthia Stackpole Snyder. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons.
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