Closing out a project in construction is both the best times and the worst times. For one, it’s time to celebrate- the work is complete, payment should be expected soon, and a new project is possibly on the horizon. However, project closeout requires documentation and transitioning works that nobody enjoys. It’s easy to slow down at the end of the job and do whatever is needed to get on the next site, but closing out a project should not be taken lightly.
The project closeout phase can make or break contrarily successful project management for construction in several cases. The project’s final days bear a massive impact on the overall profitability and success— as a quote goes, projects are remembered by how they ended, not how they started. Likewise, a successful closeout is a decisive element to your financial success because it enables you to receive the final payments.
According to a new survey from Autodesk and Dodge – Data & Analytics, 66% of general contractors encounter trouble getting off the job on at least a quarter of the project duration. So, what causes the last-minute disputes, and what can you do to prevent it?
It’s all about the project closeout process. Because you’re at the tail end of the project, you may not even have the labor or resources to correct errors discovered after all the workers have been released and all the budget has been exhausted. With the right process, project closeout can be a seamless process for all the people involved.
Why Does Project Closeout Need to Be Managed?
You might be wondering why managing construction is such a critical stage in any project. After all, many distinct tasks involved in a project closeout are somewhat straightforward. Everything from site cleanup and administrative work seems, from the outside, that they’re part of the usual business process. However, to ensure that a project is successfully completed, the project closeout process must be adequately managed and coordinated.
It is a mistaken belief that construction project management is a coherent system from beginning to end. Alternately, construction projects are completed by different stages, respectively, that come together at the end of the project. A construction project isn’t similar to an old car, where you can sign over the title, accept the payment, and walk away; you need to address even the littlest details before the site is truly ready for the client’s occupy. This closing process requires high-level, comprehensive coordination that must be adapted since Day 1.
What are the Components of a Project Turnover?
After we have provided a broad overview of project closeout and discussed why it needs to be managed to ensure seamless turnover, let’s take a look at the breakdown of project turnover components and shed some light on why the post-construction phase is very crucial in delivering a successful project.
1. Inspection and Punch Listing
Once the physical construction project has been finished, the general contractor project manager and technical team of the client will do a walkthrough of the project and note any issues or rectification that need to be fixed before signing contracts. They record all the necessary concerns in a punch list form. Completing the items in the punch list document requires coordination between all the project stakeholders to ensure that all changes are made according to the plans and within the project budget and timeline.
2. Cleaning of the Project Site
Ensuring the project site is prepared for handover involves cleaning up any traces of the construction operations. Site cleanup itself is an extensive undertaking. Typically, you have temporary structures to breakdown and move, temporary utilities to abolish, waste to throw out, and rental equipment and tools to return. Poor cleanup results in an unacceptable property for a turnover that can introduce construction schedule delays in the last minute.
3. Collection and Handover of Documents
During the project’s whole course, the project management team will be accumulating a large amount of paperwork. This paperwork collection is essential for record-keeping purposes for the stakeholders, especially for the client’s team. If there will ever be disputes down the road about a particular part of a project, having this documentation will help sort out any misunderstanding.
4. Pre-Requisite Training
Many forget that a new building comes with various new equipment to operate. While the documentation for all machinery and systems included in the project handoff is provided in the project handoff, you want to ensure that you have the right people to operate the equipment. Training on the transition before operations starts to certify a smooth handover in the project closeout. Generally, the project management team coordinates with the client and their staff to schedule the training.
What is the Step-by-Step Process of a Project Closeout?
Carrying out a comprehensive and step-by-step approach in closing out a project and using digital technology to streamline the process can increase efficiency and guarantee that you’re turning over a project you are genuinely proud of. The correct approach in this phase can also avoid future issues, so the client ends up happy with the whole process and the final output.
1. Contractor Closeout
In this step, the construction project manager will confirm that all the project requirements have been completed and all promises have been kept. It is the time to review any change orders or requests, look at all work accomplished and go over all the initial documents to certify that you have satisfied all the agreements in the contract.
You will need to:
a. Document all completed work as outlined in the original contract; if something is incomplete, missing, or not done correctly, take the steps necessary to correct and document.
b. Check legal conditions and certify that all the terms have been met.
c. Set alignment meeting with any code and inspection authorities to obtain COE.
d. Check any change order to secure that all have been satisfied according to the client’s requests.
e. Review client’s notes to ensure that any personal requests have been attended to and that the site is ready to be handed over.
2. Client Closeout
Client closeout is the opportunity to ensure that the client is happy with the deliverables, verify the project’s acceptance, and even solidify the business relationship. If everything is done satisfactorily, this step should be a positive experience for both the contractor and the client. Furthermore, it’s also a chance to improve the client’s evaluation making the turnover process organized, seamless, and swiftly to the client’s team.
This also the perfect chance to get feedback. Whether it’s through a written customer satisfaction survey, formal personal interviews, or even a simple follow-up email, feedback can be used to your advantage to boost your performance in your next projects.
3. Organizational Closeout
This step demobilizes your company, staff, and equipment from the job site in a systematic manner. Start by informing all the concerned parties regarding the last date on site. Next is returning borrowed or rented equipment, reconciling the budget by comparing the planned and the actual budget, and creating an inventory of all the documents generated through the project discourse.
Don’t forget to express your gratitude to your team; as a project manager, a quick note of thanks to the stakeholders and staff can help close the project on a good note. Facilitating project communication allows the in-office team to collaborate with the on-site team and foster healthy working relationships.
4. Subcontractor Closeout
Any subcontractor of any trades who worked on-site need to be properly closed out as well. Verify that all the work has been finished and everything meets the quality standards. You also need to ensure that any change orders have been satisfied before you release your subcontractors. Track these changes with your construction crew scheduling software so you can pull out any information you need to know in an instant. Then, during closeout time, all you have to do is verify that the reports are correct instead of wasting time looking for missing records.
5. Team Closeout
The construction team’s final walkthrough allows you to preserve any lessons learned during the building process and find what needs improvement. It also bridges the communication gap between the contractors, subcontractors, and design team. This is also a golden opportunity to show your appreciation and connect with your team members.
Acknowledging the importance of project closeout well before the last days of the project certifies that everything will run swiftly and wrapped up on a positive note. The project closeout will impact the client, your team, and even future opportunities, so it should be done correctly.
If you want to get it correctly, incorporate construction management software like Pro Crew Schedule to closely track your team’s tasks, schedules, and documentation at the tip of your fingers, everywhere you go. Streamline this extensive phase to completion in the most efficient way possible.