When a project comes to an end, it’s an important day for both your project management office (PMO) and the people who worked directly on it. A step in the project closing process that’s often overlooked is the celebrate the end of a project, and our six tips should help change that.

A successful project deserves recognition, with the scale and budget for the celebration dependant on the size of the project. It might seem like a “nice to have” that can be jettisoned when money gets tight, but there are important reasons to celebrate project completion.

We’re going to get into the details of:

  • The reasons why your PMO needs to celebrate the end of projects
  • Who you need to involve in the project closing celebration
  • Our tips to make sure you celebrate the close of a project successfully

To help you ensure that you get the last step in closing a project done right.

Why is a celebration to close a project important for PMOs?

Your PMO needs to ensure that everyone on a project feels valued so that future projects can see the same success. The human element of a project needs to be recognised and rewarded beyond the basics of salary and bonuses.

There are a whole range of benefits to celebrating the closure of a project, including:

  • People like to feel valued and when they’re recognised for their contribution, they’ll put the same effort into the next project.
  • Personal relationships can be developed and fostered with employees, suppliers and contractors – vital to the smooth running of future projects.
  • A closing celebration can also work as a networking event for internal and external attendees which can improve project success in the long run.
  • Celebrating successes can also bring the project into sharp focus for the C-suite, especially if they’re invited to attend.

Who needs to be involved with the celebration of a closed project?

It’s worth having your PMO take a lead role in celebrating the success of a project. This is because there are many long-term benefits such as relationships with suppliers and the C-suite which may not be the focus of the project team directly.

It will depend who was involved in a project, but generally you need to be sure to bring in:

  • The project team, including people who may have only been involved at the beginning.
  • Internal contributors, such as beta testers or short-term secondments.
  • The project and PMO sponsor, and any other manager or leader who had a role in the project.
  • Suppliers who you have a relationship with or want a relationship with.
  • Contractors that worked on the project as freelancers or consultants.

The last two in particular rarely get informed about the overall success of the project or receive recognition for their contribution. It can really help develop relationships by bringing them into the celebration.

Our 6 tips for a PMO celebrating the end of a project

Having some nearly-stale sandwiches and a pot of coffee on a Friday afternoon shouldn’t be on the agenda for a project closing celebration. There are lots of effective ways to recognise the value of a project. Here are our top tips.

  1. Plan your project celebration from the start. Allocating time and a budget will mean it can’t be skipped over and gives everyone something to aim for.
  2. Choose the right celebration. When you have remote or geographically scattered teams and suppliers, a remote celebration over Zoom can be just as effective when done right.
  3. Allow for asynchronous recognition, particularly for suppliers. Sending a small gift, voucher, or thank-you note will always be well received.
  4. Widen your celebration to your whole business. This doesn’t mean invite everyone to the party, but communicate the success of the project with a blog post or video.
  5. Make the celebration timely. You may need to hold the project closing party before every closing activity has been completed – you don’t need to wait for archiving, for example, before you celebrate.
  6. Keep it light and not business-focussed. Let people relax and not think about work for a couple of hours and just bask in the glory of a project well-completed – it doesn’t happen often enough.

Celebrating the end of a project

Projects can be challenging and tough for those working on them. Celebrating the end of a project using our six top tips will make sure everyone feels valued and the wider business understands your PMO’s contribution.