When undertaking a software development project, an effectively designed closure plan serves as an outline of required tasks that must be carried out appropriately in order to result in successful project delivery, and adequate preparation is one significant element when it comes to ensuring a smooth transition to implementation. The closure plan must be considered at the outset of the project, as the client outlines their specific software requirements. With a detailed description of the desired end result communicated and understood, the expected capabilities and deliverables of the software are established. But as you enter the final stages of a software development project, what can be done in order to ensure that the program is completely suitable and fully primed for implementation?
According to Joe Coley, independent software developer and member of Northeast Dataflex Consortium, “Projects that I’ve been involved with…have been very much subject to additional needs and desires of the user community.” In effect, this means that the end deliverable becomes the focus of the closure plan — that is, to ensure a high level of end user satisfaction with the software requested and therefore created. Coley has 20 years of experience in the information technology industry and offers much insight on the subject. When it comes to key components for successful closure plans, he highlights three main aspects to consider:
• Assess the project requirements. In order to determine the best course of action throughout the cycle of a project, it is necessary to first consider the scope of the project. Establishing a clear outlook and complete understanding as to the required deliverables will greatly improve the ability to adequately determine exactly what tasks must be carried out in order to meet these deliverables in an efficient and timely manner.
• Communication. While communication is always essential throughout the cycle of any project or initiative, it is imperative to establish a specific plan for obtaining end-user input, as needed and where feasible. Therefore, a key component to a successful close is establishing and maintaining open lines of communication with the appropriate groups. The end users comprise the group of those who will be utilizing the software in real-time business applications; they have the critical business knowledge as to ways in which the software can be created or functionality that can be incorporated so that the result will be a valuable tool with the capability to enhance their business functions.
• Offer continuing support. When it comes to considering a focus on the continuing support needs of the end-user community, Coley cites a specific reason to do so, “There is always an expectation of continuing support in the form of application tweaks, bug fixes, and enhancements.” By extending continuing support to the end users, they have more confidence in the software program as well as in their chosen developer.
Full text of the interview with Joe Coley is available here: http://www.executivebrief.com/article/the-beginning-of-the-end-defining-project-closure/.