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What Is Project Management?

A project is an undertaking by one or more people to develop and create a service, product or goal. Project management is the process of overseeing, organizing and guiding an entire project from start to finish. Here are more facts about project management.

Project Management Helps Teams Work Together

A competent project manager pulls together all of the people involved in a project to ensure that tasks are done cooperatively and with regard to the tasks’ effects on other people’s project outcomes. For example, when a new building is being constructed, a project manager will schedule electrical wiring installation before scheduling installation of light fixtures and electrical equipment. If the lighting crew is scheduled before the structure is wired, the lighting crew wastes time arriving on site only to find they can’t perform their work.

Project managers also schedule meetings between various teams to foster cooperation and increased communication about projects. In the example above, the project manager may schedule a meeting during which the electricians explain the wiring, wall-switch operation and receptacle layout to the lighting contractors. Both teams communicate their needs and concerns to help the project move forward without delays.

Project Management Performs Vital Processes

According to the Project Management Institute, five main management processes are used to see a project through to completion. The five processes are:

At the initiating phase, key individuals share ideas about a proposed project. In the planning stages, the project is defined and schedules are created to complete the project in a defined time frame. Execution of the project requires organizing and scheduling supplies, materials and workers to complete the project. Monitoring and controlling in project management is the process of inspecting work, crunching budget numbers and keeping track of deadlines. Closing the project involves site cleanup, turning over the project to the owner, collecting payments and scheduling meetings to discuss the lessons learned from a project.

Project Management Focuses on Key Areas of Knowledge

Project management draws on a diverse set of skills. While project managers don’t need to have in-depth knowledge of all key skill areas, they do need to have a basic understanding of the limitations and concerns of each knowledge area. Project managers need to view a project in its entirety and understand the relationships between costs, quality, supply procurement, human resources, communication, risk management and stakeholder management.

Project Management Requires Document Management

A competent project manager organizes all documentation including invoices, e-mails, bids, proposals, permits, and project changes. The project manager ensures documents are submitted on time and to the correct businesses, agencies or individuals. The project manager is also responsible for secure storage of all project documents.

Project Management Helps Meet Goals

Project management is a relatively new field of practice and study but has become a proven method to meet lofty goals and bring diverse groups of people together for a common purpose.


completed projects definition

Completion of the Project definition

Examples of completion of the project in a sentence.

In the event that City's Losses arise from Contractor’s default under the Contract Documents, City shall be entitled to withhold monies otherwise payable to Contractor until Final Completion of the Project .

Should the amount withheld exceed the amount deducted, the balance will be paid to Contractor or its designee upon Final Completion of the Project .

Following the completion of the negotiations required by Paragraph 14.4.1, all unresolved Contract Disputes shall be deferred pending Final Completion of the Project , subject to City’s right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to require that the Contract Dispute Resolution Process proceed prior to Final Completion.

All work required for Substantial Completion of the Project shall be completed on or before __________.

If the Contractor fails to achieve Final Completion of the Project by the time established in 00710- SUPPLEMENTAL GENERAL CONDITIONS due to inaction or negligence on the part of the Contractor or their agents, then the Owner reserves the right to complete the Work in accordance with SECTION 00700-GENERAL CONDITIONS, Paragraph 4.2-Owner’s Right to Carry Out the Work.This Agreement is entered into as of the date of the applicable Purchase Order and is assumed as executed once the Purchase Order is issued.

More Definitions of Completion of the Project


Project completion


The project conclusion describes the successful achievement of the project goal. It includes the final phases of a project: product acceptance, a final analysis, experience assurance and the final project resolution. These points are summarized in the project conclusion report. Only when all activities related to the project have been completed, the project is finished. If the actual goal has not been achieved, this is called a project termination.

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Cambridge Dictionary

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(Definition of complete and project from the Cambridge English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)


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18. Project Completion

Adrienne Watt; Project Management Open Resources; TAP-a-PM; and David Wiley, et al.

Click play on the following audio player to listen along as you read this section.

Every project needs to end and that’s what project completion is all about in the last phase of the project life cycle. The whole point of the project is to deliver what you promised. By delivering everything you said you would, you make sure that all stakeholders are satisfied and all acceptance criteria have been met. Once that happens, your project can end.

Project completion is often the most neglected phase of the project life cycle. Once the project is over, it’s easy to pack things up, throw some files in a drawer, and start moving right into the initiation phase of the next project. Hold on. You’re not done yet.

The key activities in project completion are gathering project records; disseminating information to formalize acceptance of the product, service, or project; and performing project closure. As the project manager, you will need to review project documents to make certain they are up-to-date. For example, perhaps some scope change requests were implemented that changed some of the characteristics of the final product. The project information you are collecting during this phase should reflect the characteristics and specifications of the final product. Don’t forget to update your resource assignments as well. Some team members will have come and gone over the course of the project. You need to double-check that all the resources and their roles and responsibilities are noted.

Once the project outcomes are documented, you’ll request formal acceptance from the stakeholders or customer. They’re interested in knowing if the product or service of the project meets the objectives the project set out to accomplish. If your documentation is up-to-date, you’ll have the project results at hand to share with them.

Contract Closure

Contracts come to a close just as projects come to a close. Contract closure is concerned with completing and settling the terms of the contracts let for the project. It supports the project completion process because the contract closure process determines if the work described in the contracts was completed accurately and satisfactorily. Keep in mind that not all projects are performed under contract so not all projects require the contract closure process. Obviously, this process applies only to those phases, deliverables, or portions of the project that were performed under contract.

Contract closure updates the project records, detailing the final results of the work on the project. Con­tracts may have specific terms or conditions for completion. You should be aware of these terms or conditions so that project completion isn’t held up because you missed an important detail. If you are administering the contract yourself, be sure to ask your procurement department if there are any special conditions that you should be aware of so that your project team doesn’t inadvertently delay contract project closure.

One of the purposes of the contract closure process is to provide formal notice to the seller, usually in written form, that the deliverables are acceptable and satisfactory or have been rejected. If the product or service does not meet the expectations, the vendor will need to correct the problems before you issue a formal acceptance notice. Before the contract is closed, any minor items that need to be repaired or completed are placed on a punch list , which is a list of all the items found by the client or team or manager that still remain to be done. Hopefully, quality audits have been performed during the course of the project, and the vendor was given the opportunity to make corrections earlier in the process than the closing phase. It’s not a good idea to wait until the very end of the project and then spring all the problems and issues on the vendor at once. It’s much more efficient to discuss problems with your vendor as the project progresses because it provides the opportunity for correction when the problems occur.

The project team will then work on all of the items on the punch list, building a small schedule to complete the remaining work. If the number of items on the punch list is too large or the amount of work is significant, the project team continues to work on the project. Once the punch list becomes smaller, the project manager begins closing down the project, maintaining only enough staff and equipment to support the team that is working on the punch list.

If the product or service does meet the project’s expectations and is acceptable, formal written notice to the seller is required, indicating that the contract is complete. This is the formal acceptance and closure of the contract. It’s your responsibility as the project manager to document the formal acceptance of the contract. Many times the provisions for formalizing acceptance and closing the contract are spelled out in the contract itself.

If you have a procurement department handling the contract administration, they will expect you to inform them when the contract is complete and will in turn follow the formal procedures to let the seller know the contract is complete. However, you will still note the contract completion in your copy of the project records.

Releasing the Project Team

Releasing project team members is not an official process. However, it should be noted that at the conclusion of the project, you will release your project team members, and they will go back to their functional managers or get assigned to a new project. You will want to keep their managers, or other project managers, informed as you get closer to project completion, so that they have time to adequately plan for the return of their employees. Let them know a few months ahead of time what the schedule looks like and how soon they can plan on using their employees on new projects. This gives the other managers the ability to start planning activities and scheduling activity dates.

Final Payments

The final payment is usually more than a simple percentage of the work that remains to be completed. Completing the project might involve fixing the most difficult problems that are disproportionately expensive to solve, so the final payment should be large enough to motivate the vendor to give the project a high priority so that the project can be completed on time.

If the supplier has met all the contractual obligations, including fixing problems and making repairs as noted on a punch list, the project team signs off on the contract and submits it to the accounting department for final payment. The supplier is notified that the last payment is final and completes the contractual agreement with the project.

Post-Project Evaluations

Before the team is dissolved and begins to focus on the next project, a review is conducted to capture the lessons that can be learned from this project, often called a lessons-learned meeting or document. The team explores what went well and captures the processes to understand why they went well. The team asks if the process is transferable to other projects. The team also explores what did not go well and what people learned from the experience. The process is not to find blame, but to learn.

Quality management is a process of continual improvement that includes learning from past projects and making changes to improve the next project. This process is documented as evidence that quality management practices are in use. Some organizations have formal processes for changing work processes and integrating the lessons learned from the project so other projects can benefit. Some organizations are less formal in the approach and expect individuals to learn from the experience and take the experience to their next project and share what they learned with others in an informal way. Whatever type of approach is used, the following elements should be evaluated and the results summarized in reports for external and internal use.

Trust and Alignment Effectiveness

The project leadership reviews the effect of trust—or lack of trust—on the project and the effectiveness of alignment meetings at building trust. The team determines which problems might have been foreseen and mitigated and which ones could not have been reasonably predicted. What were the cues that were missed by the team that indicated a problem was emerging? What could the team have done to better predict and prevent trust issues?

Schedule and Budget Management

The original schedule of activities and the network diagram are compared to the actual schedule of events. Events that caused changes to the schedule are reviewed to see how the use of contingency reserves and float mitigated the disruption caused by those events. The original estimates of contingency time are reviewed to determine if they were adequate and if the estimates of duration and float were accurate. These activities are necessary for the project team to develop expertise in estimating schedule elements in future projects—they are not used to place blame.

A review of budget estimates for the cost of work scheduled is compared to the actual costs. If the estimates are frequently different from the actual costs, the choice of estimating method is reviewed.

Risk Mitigation

After the project is finished, the estimates of risk can be reviewed and compared to the events that actually took place. Did events occur that were unforeseen? What cues existed that may have allowed the team to predict these events? Was the project contingency sufficient to cover unforeseen risks? Even if nothing went wrong on this project, it is not proof that risk mitigation was a waste of money, but it is useful to compare the cost of avoiding risk versus the cost of unexpected events to understand how much it cost to avoid risk.

Procurement Contracts

The performance of suppliers and vendors is reviewed to determine if they should still be included in the list of qualified suppliers or vendors. The choice of contract for each is reviewed to determine if the decision to share risk was justified and if the choice of incentives worked.

Customer Satisfaction

Relationships with the client are reviewed and decisions about including the client in project decisions and alignment meetings are discussed. The client is given the opportunity to express satisfaction and identify areas in which project communication and other factors could be improved. Often a senior manager from the organization interviews the client to develop feedback on the project team performance.

A general report that provides an overview of the project is created to provide stakeholders with a summary of the project. The report includes the original goals and objectives and statements that show how the project met those goals and objectives. Performance on the schedule and budget are summarized and an assessment of client satisfaction is provided. A version of this report can be provided to the client as a stakeholder and as another means for deriving feedback.

Senior Management

The report to senior management contains all the information provided to the stakeholders in a short executive summary. The report identifies practices and processes that could be improved or lessons that were learned that could be useful on future projects.

Archiving of Document

The documents associated with the project must be stored in a safe location where they can be retrieved for future reference. Signed contracts or other documents that might be used in tax reviews or lawsuits must be stored. Organizations will have legal document storage and retrieval policies that apply to project documents and must be followed. Some project documents can be stored electronically.

Care should be taken to store documents in a form that can be recovered easily. If the documents are stored electronically, standard naming conventions should be used so documents can be sorted and grouped by name. If documents are stored in paper form, the expiration date of the documents should be determined so they can be destroyed at some point in the future. The following are documents that are typically archived:

Text Attributions

This chapter was adapted and remixed by Adrienne Watt from the following sources:

18. Project Completion by Adrienne Watt; Project Management Open Resources; TAP-a-PM; and David Wiley, et al. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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completed projects definition

completed projects definition

The ultimate project completion checklist (with free templates)

March 3, 2023

project completion

The end of a project life cycle often indicates that the project has been completed and the project completion report has been submitted. 

The project completion report is detailed documentation that gives an overview of the project’s progress, accomplishments, milestones, roadblocks, budgets, and the team’s performance during the project. It’s a vital part of project management.

Besides being used to assess the success of a project, the report also serves as an important tool for identifying best practices , and challenges to improve project management processes for the future. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through how to perform your project completion successfully, and provide a guide on how to write a comprehensive project completion report. 

What is successful project completion?

In project management, delivering what you agreed on in the scope of the project means that you’ve accomplished your project completion successfully.

In project management, successful completion of the project means you have delivered what you agreed on in the scope of the project. On top of that, you have to make sure you’re meeting all acceptance criteria, satisfying the stakeholders, and fulfilling business objectives. 

The completion report offers a great opportunity to analyze the performance of a project, taking stock of what went well and what could be done differently next time.

What is a project completion plan? – A checklist to guide your every step 

A project life cycle can’t end unless everyone meets all project completion criteria. This is why it’s essential for project managers to always have a project completion process checklist to keep the team on the same page, and guide them through the final phase of the project. 

Plus, the project completion checklist ensures that your team is doing meaningful tasks in the project completion stage.

1. Compare objectives and reality

At the beginning of every project, a project manager sets objectives and goals for the project team members, which they should achieve by the end of the project. When assessing your project completion plan, the first thing you should evaluate is how reality measures up to the objectives that you laid out at the beginning of the project. 

Have you been able to achieve all your objectives? Did you tweak some objectives to accommodate the reality of undertaking the project? Comparing “what you planned to do” with “what you did” will give you a better understanding of how successful your project was.

2. Confirm project completion with stakeholders

Stakeholders and clients are a vital part of every project, and their input is invaluable. Their opinions are so crucial to the project that it can’t be successfully completed unless the stakeholders are satisfied. 

Project stakeholders need to sign off on any project, to mark its completion. So, ensure they are in the loop and aligned on how your project is progressing. Ask for their input or feedback, and follow through accordingly to get their sign-off. 

Filestage makes it easy to collect feedback from stakeholders on any asset that is created during the project. With this review and approval platform, you can share files within seconds with all relevant stakeholders. 

All your reviewers can leave comments directly on the file, discuss feedback with each other, and approve the final version. This allows project managers and creatives to manage the entire process in one place. 

Filestage dashboard overview

3. Confirm if project is within scope 

In the beginning you’ll probably create a detailed project scope and a formal process, which you’ll then use to guide you to the completion of the project. 

Has the project scope statement been met entirely? If not, is that an issue? This period of reflection can be useful for every stakeholder involved in the project. 

Changes to the scope of the project during the project are quite common. However, as a project manager, you must ensure that change requests to the project scope are well documented, communicated with all team members, and implemented. 

This step is also necessary, as it helps project managers prevent scope creep, which often results in the features and specifications of the final product not meeting the project’s expectations.

4. Clear pending contracts and invoices 

It’s important that all of the relevant costs associated with your project are charged to it. This helps tidy up loose ends, ensures that your organization gets its money, and avoids any potential confusion in the future. Plus it prevents you from dealing with late invoices or bills. 

Additionally, stakeholders will want to know if the project is within budget or not. Starting the contract closure process by clearing all pending contractors and invoices before the project is completed will give you a clear overview of expenses. 

This will also highlight where you underused or exceeded the budget. Also, as a project manager, this will make gathering project records easier and help explain where there may be notable differences in the budget management.

5. Write a post-project report 

A post-project report is a document where you specify details of the overall process and present your results. This report can help you to take key lessons from the project and also identify areas that can be improved for the next round. You should make an effort to share the report within your organization for maximum effectiveness. 

Here are all elements that you should include in your post-project report to make it comprehensive: 

6. Archive all documentation

Throughout the project, you probably created a lot of files and versions of deliverables. While they might seem useless at the moment, it’s vital that you properly catalog them in case you or your colleagues need them in the future. 

Archiving all your project documentation ensures that the project manager has credible and extensive resources they can always reference or consult in the future. 

For instance, based on the data collected from past projects, a project manager can make predictions to proactively reduce risks in new projects. This will ensure they get the best project results on time and on budget.

How can you reduce the stress of completing a project? 

The closing phase of a project lifecycle isn’t typically any less tedious than any of the earlier stages. 

Here are some steps that a project manager can take to prioritize their work and reduce stress for themselves and their team members, as they approach a project’s completion.

1. Make the review process simple

Your deliverables are almost ready, but last-minute changes may be requested. You can’t afford to inject confusion into the project at this stage, so it’s essential that the official process for your review is incredibly transparent and clear. 

To make sure that this is the case, you’ll want to provide formal notice of updates to the project team and streamline your review and approval process, with a tool like Filestage .

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2. Take your time

Now that the finish line is in sight, it can be very tempting to rush toward it, with arms outstretched in victory. But now is the time to be methodical and cautious with great quality management practices. 

Slowly work your way through your project completion template and resist the temptation for premature celebration. The project will be wrapped up before you know it!

3. Share feedback

With the project wrapping up, this is the perfect time to share feedback on performance with the rest of your team. This can galvanize and motivate them, making sure that they give this last final push to the project. You can also take this opportunity to excite them for the future and the next big project.

4. Keep your team mentally engaged

Your team knows that the project has almost been completed and they’re ready to breathe a large collective sigh of relief. As the project manager, it’s your job to make sure that every member of your team remains engaged. 

Making the final tweaks and the delivery of materials is a very delicate stage of the project, so you want your team at their best.

5. Enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done

At the end of the project, you should take the time to look back at the project and admire the work that you and your team have accomplished. This can keep you motivated and show you just how far you’ve come which is an important fuel to keep you rocketing through amazing digital projects.

You can even consider sending out a project completion email to your entire team where you’ll congratulate everyone on their efforts and accomplishments and highlight some important aspects of the project.

Free project completion report templates 

If you need help with writing a project completion report, below are three free templates, designed to keep you organized and save time when creating project reports.

Make use of Filestage’s free template 

After you’ve completed the project, you’ll want to produce a report for your superiors and the rest of the team. This can help you to assess the positives and negatives that appeared along the way and refine your approach for future projects. 

Here’s a sample completion report template that you can use.

Get the free project completion report

Project completion report template by

Writing a comprehensive project report for a new business and in a way that will be presentable to your stakeholders doesn’t have to be difficult thanks to this template by . 

This template has been designed by business gurus, specifically for project reports for new businesses. It’s fully customizable and can be downloaded and edited in both Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

Project closure report template by Smartsheet 

If you’re drafting your finished project report, then we recommend checking out the free templates for project closeout reports by Smartsheet . 

The templates provide sections for the project summary, roles and responsibilities, deliverables, project costs, schedule, and lessons learned. You can download, edit, and share the templates in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PDF. 

Project completion example 

Writing a report on a completed project is not as difficult as it seems. However, including all steps and details is usually not a walk in the park for project managers. 

Here’s an example of a project completion report, so you have an idea of how to start when drafting your report. 

Important tips while writing a project completion report 

So, how do you go about writing a comprehensive project completion report? 

Here are some tips to get you started. 

Remove ambiguity

Ensure that your report is as clear and concise as possible. Stay honest and factual throughout your report. Tailor your language to suit your target audience, so that there is no ambiguity in your documentation. 

Your project results should be written in such a way that they’re easily understood, leaving no room for guesses, assumptions, or misunderstandings.

Consult with team members and stakeholders

As a project manager, it’s important to work hand in hand with your team members and stakeholders, throughout the project lifecycle. The contract closure process determines how well your team will work together on other projects. 

So, seek out the input of your team members and stakeholders, when you’re performing project closure and writing the final project report. 

It’s critical that the report provides both accurate and complete information, and achieving this could be difficult if the project manager begins closing the contract and writing the report without sending contract closure updates and considering the feedback of other collaborators.

Review all deliverables to make sure nothing is outstanding

Before you begin writing your project completion report, you should review the project goals and objectives that were stated in the project proposal. Did you produce all project deliverables? Are there any outstanding tasks you couldn’t complete within the project timeline? 

Reviewing and sharing project deliverables with stakeholders is critical for the success of a project. Only when all deliverables and assets have been reviewed and approved by stakeholders will your project be completed. 

Follow the process and tips we’ve provided above, to guide your project completion plan. We have also provided a variety of project completion report templates you can use to create your report, including our free template. 

It’s okay if the first draft of the report is not perfect. Remember, the completion report is a summary of all efforts related to the project. You can edit and revise the content as much as you like, until you have a copy that sufficiently describes the life cycle of the completed project.

Muriel Skusa

Muriel Skusa

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Project Assistants

How to Define a Project: Planning and completion

This series will cover the definition process for a project. Our last post focused on the definition document. This post takes a deeper dive into two scenarios.

Defining What “Done” Means

One of the keys to avoiding scope creep is to know exactly what completion entails.  The definition process is the project manager’s first and most critical opportunity to limit the project scope. The key is clearly articulating completion criteria for the major project deliverables and for the overall project.

A solid completion statement will tie the deliverables and their acceptance together in a logical way.

A project completion statement might look like the following:

The design task will be complete when the project manager provides the Design Report, as outlined in the deliverables guideline section, and it is accepted by the project sponsor according to the acceptance procedure in Appendix C.

Statements like this should appear in both the completion criteria section of the definition document and the approach section. This will ensure there are no doubts as to exactly what “done” means.

The most difficult part of writing a definition document is setting limits. You need to define up front what the project does include, as well as what it does not include.

For example, a project charter might say, “The goal of this project is to network all facilities in Maryland.” This would leave the project manager vulnerable to a response of, “While you’re at it, why don’t you include the facilities in Virginia?” On the other hand, a project charter that says, “The goal of this project is to network all facilities in Maryland.  Facilities in Virginia will be networked in a separate project during the next fiscal year,” provides some defense when people ask for out-of-scope modifications.

Backing into Project End Dates

Project managers are often assigned to a project after the project finish date, budget, and resources have been defined.  If an SME doesn’t have a role in the initial definition of these important parameters, a work plan and schedule may not exist yet.  The only way to achieve any degree of certainty in these figures is to lay out a schedule that demonstrates whether or not there is enough money, the right number and kind of people, and enough time to produce the deliverables.

Project managers affectionately call this process backing into the schedule . The painfulness of this process highlights the importance of involving the project manager early in the definition of a project.

Some project managers wonder, How do you handle projects without defined end dates. In fact, most project managers would prefer to build the plan before they commit to any kind of project completion date.

To read our last post in the series, click here.

For a good article on preventing and managing scope creep, click here.

For more help on navigating the challenges of project management,  contact our experts today .

Municipal Bonds

Project Completion Restriction

James Chen, CMT is an expert trader, investment adviser, and global market strategist.

completed projects definition

What Is Project Completion Restriction?

A project completion restriction is a clause often found in municipal bond indentures that requires the issuing party to sell additional debt securities (typically revenue bonds) to finance the full completion of a project.

In general, a municipal bond issuer repays a lender by using revenue that results from a completed project. Should a project encounter obstacles that prevent it from reaching the revenue-generating phase—for example, due to construction costs that are higher than anticipated—a project completion restriction would require the issuer to take on additional debt to see the project through.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Project Completion Restriction

A project completion restriction is a clause designed to protect bondholder interests. In the event that a revenue-generating project is abandoned or otherwise interrupted before completion—for example, due to cost overruns—the clause would force the issuer to secure additional debt financing. This ensures the project is finished and begins generating the revenue needed to meet its bond payment obligations.

For the purposes of municipal bonds, an indenture ensures the legal and binding contract specifications that detail the key features of the bond. This includes maturity date, when interest payments are due, and the actual interest to be collected, along with any terms and conditions. A project completion restriction is an example of a term that can be included in a bond indenture in order to protect bondholders and help ensure they recover their investment.

Example of a Project Completion Restriction

Here is an example of how a project completion restriction might work. Imagine a town that is building a new toll road. In order to finance the project, which will cost $5 million, the town issues an equivalent amount in bonds to pay for construction.

However, halfway through the project the town encounters a major obstacle that raises the price of construction to $10 million. Because the indenture in the original bond sale contained a project completion restriction, the town is required to come up with the additional $5 million to complete the toll road project. Thanks to the project completion restriction, the bond holders are protected from losing their investment.

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completed projects definition

The Definition of Done & The Path to Project Management Bliss

Meditative businessman is looking for the best solution for the business development process. Business icons are drawn over the huge blackboard.

In project terms, I call this the Definition of Done. It is a Zen-like state in which you become something greater than what you were and can do new and wonderful things. True, this state is achieved by completing things, but the tasks in achieving a Definition of Done are just steps along the path to enlightenment.

The best Definitions of Done are but transitory states that enable you to grow and achieve new Definitions of Done. You see, the Definition of Done is just a state of being that allows you to do new things.

Okay, maybe that’s too metaphysical for you, but the fundamental truth still applies in life as in business. A project succeeds not because all of the tasks were completed in a project. The project succeeds only when it enables you, your business, and your people to do new things.

The Definition of Done describes what someone can do when the project is successful.

As a company that relies on knowledge and information, part of your success depends on how well your employees, partners, and customers can find and use that information. Creating content, having a content management system, and developing governance and content strategies mean nothing without the Definition of Done.

Let’s say your company has a team of customer service representatives (CSR). The CSRs receive calls from existing customers with issues or questions. You want to make sure they can do their job effectively.

So, you create a course, quick reference guide, and coaching program for the CSRs and post all of the developed content to your intranet. You probably even developed learning objectives for the courses and set out performance standards for the CSRs to measure how well they are doing at their jobs.

After a few months, the performance standards show that customer questions are often answered incorrectly and that many customer issues are not being resolved correctly. Checking the content you posted reveals that all of the information is correct and complete.

An investigation into the issue show that only half of the CSRs regularly read the quick reference guides, and very few of the CSRs refer to their materials while talking to customers. The coaches don’t have time to speak with the CSRs and the training course has been largely forgotten by those who attended it.

In other words, no one is using what you created and the CSRs are doing poorly at their jobs.

The source of the problem is that the CSRs received a basic, out-of-the-box solution that didn’t really address how they worked. More importantly, there was no immediate test to see if the solution actually worked.

Having a Definition of Done would have created a set of testable requirements that show if you have succeeded. For example, a good Definition of Done would have stated that a CSR can

With this Definition of Done as a starting point you could then work with the CSRs and your content team to develop a solution that would allow the CSR to achieve the desired results. You would also test the solution to make sure that it actually works, before rolling the solution into production.

Getting to the Definition of Done is the challenge. We’ve been taught for years that projects are made up of tasks that need to be done. This teaching does not extend to defining why those tasks need to be done however. So, let’s take a moment and explore the parts of a good Definition of Done and the steps we can take to building one.

For starters, a Definition of Done needs a beneficiary. Who will benefit from the completion of your efforts? In the example provided above, the CSR is the person who benefits the most. We could also look at the customers, stakeholders, or other parties who might benefit.

Next, we need to understand how the beneficiary will improve as a result of the work. This can either be a new action the beneficiary can perform, or a new state the beneficiary assumes. For the CSR, our Definition of Done describes what the CSR can do.

Your measurement then becomes whether the beneficiary can perform the actions listed, or assume the state described. If the beneficiary can meet this measurement, then you have succeeded and your work is done.

An interesting point about the Definition of Done is that you can achieve it without necessarily completing all of the work you planned out. For example, if the CSR was able to achieve all of the requirements you outlined as Definitions of Done, and all you did was implement the coaching session, then you do not need to do the rest of the work.

Once you have achieved your Definition of Done, you can relax and return to a Zen-like state where everything in the world is in balance and harmony. Or, you could also dig into the next Definition of Done and keep the story moving.


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