Projects do indeed end and the key is to have them end well. After all, according to the Project Management Institute, “A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.”

So how can you plan for your project to end well vs. well…just end?

Here are some steps to take and questions to ask for a smooth takeoff and landing:

Step 1: What’s done is “done.”

Set the parameters for the how the project will be measured as “done” at the beginning. Envision what the finished product looks like. Complete the project in a step-by-step fashion and gain agreement and acceptance on each step. This will help ensure that all parties are progressing against the plan in a positive fashion.

Step 2: Are we there yet?

With most projects, the end is in sight — but like a football game, it can be difficult to cross the goal line. This can require taking a time out to assess what remaining activities need to be completed to finish. And often this requires an intense focus at the end. The activity list that is created and updated along the way should serve as the roadmap to complete things and not miss anything.

Step 3: Lessons.

All projects provide opportunities to learn something. What went right? What went wrong? What could have gone better? How would you handle things differently? What can you take from this project and apply to another one?

Step 4: Tie up loose ends.

Don’t forget to make sure that all contractual obligations have been closed out and that there are no missing activities left undone. Now is a good time to review the statement of work and contractual agreement. Are the files up-to-date? Has there been a turnover memo and/or client call to answer any remaining questions? Are you pleased with how the project turned out?

Step 5: Let it go!

OK. Everything has gone well. Now is the time to let the project go and send wishes for its success. Kind of like letting a balloon slip from your hands and fly away.

And now for the next project.

Originally published at