Learning from failures and mistakes is a trait of successful people and agencies alike. Similarly, you can leverage the lessons hiding in every finished project, and that’s exactly what closing it out will help you achieve.
There's great power in failure if you take the right approach to it. Every failed project provides an opportunity for process, operational, financial, or technological improvement in your business.
Successful agencies document these failures, often to the same measure as their achievements, with an eye on doing better the next time around. But this is something that many agencies overlook.
In most cases, these agencies don’t have a process in place that allows for an analysis of what went right or wrong in completed projects. Nothing can be learned or improved upon as a result.
You can choose to do the opposite by assessing each completed project for the financial results.
Closing out projects will help you come to grips with everything that happened during a project. Ultimately, you'll understand which clients you should be working with, what services to concentrate on, and how much value you should place on those services.
Why You Need to Close Out Your Projects
At the end of a campaign, successful or otherwise, it’s highly recommended to organize an internal meeting where you can review all aspects of the project. It’s a sort of postmortem where you identify the successes and failures.
In doing so, you might gain invaluable insight about expenses that you didn't account for properly or pinpoint procedural and technological issues that you can go on to correct and adjust.
Take everything into consideration and improve on any processes found lacking. You'll formulate a better budget proposal and boost performance whenever you take on a similar project in the future.
Closing out projects is a process in itself and will take some time and effort. Still, it's a precious resource for advancing your agency and the way it serves clients.
The Closing Checklist
The closure process will vary from one agency to another, depending on specialization. But in most cases, there's a checklist that can serve as a guideline for everything you'll need to do to wrap up a project.
Here's a list of necessary considerations when closing out:
Are there any assets you need to return or deliver to the client?
Do you need to store any items?
Are additional charges applicable to item storage or any subsequent activity on your part?
Are there digital assets to save, archive, or return to the client?
Review your budgets and expenses. How do sales, working budgets, and spending stack up?
Did you achieve the objectives set?
If you've failed to reach the goals, what was the reason?
What improvements could you introduce to achieve better results under the same circumstances?
Did the client provide any useful feedback? What was it?
How did the project and its outcome impact the team internally?
Were there internal objectives for the project, whether met or unmet?
Once you answer all of the questions on the list, the final remaining step is to have a wrap-up meeting with the client. What if there are some uncertainties about a particular closing-out step? In that case, you might get additional information from that meeting - for example, if you lack client insight, the meeting would be an excellent opportunity to get it.
Why You Need to Include Your Financial and Business Development Teams
It's critical to include all relevant teams when reviewing information in the closing out process.
The financial review part deserves special attention, which you should do so in collaboration with your accounting and operational teams.
What’s the best way to do the review?
First, review the project-specific financials and ensure the operational and account teams do the same. In doing so, you'll make sure all expenses for the project are present and documented. Simultaneously, you can correct and clarify all costs unrelated to the project.
Next, all teams should review and document every project result, whether it was a success or not. You should include your service, operations, accounting, financial, and other teams at this stage of the process.
Once the teams determine the failures that happened in the campaign, they can finally get to creating plans for improvement. This is where you'll initiate necessary changes in your service, product, deliverables, and such.
Keep in mind that when it comes to the wrap-up meeting with your client, you should always bring your business development team along.
In the presence of the business development team, about half of all wrap-up meetings led to additional proposals.
This is because your team can present fresh initiatives and objectives while you showcase what your agency has accomplished on the previous project. These meetings provide a great opportunity for potential new business, and having your development team present for the occasion can only help.
Properly Closing Out Leads to Improvements
When you go through all of the necessary steps for conducting a closing-out process, you're bound to attain a new perspective on how your business performs. And the overview of your financials and the results achieved will lead you to the necessary changes.
These benefits are often even greater when you close out a failed project.
Finally, the wrap-up meeting is one that many clients will value and appreciate, so much so that the valuable lessons learned might be followed by new opportunities.
Closing out projects is simply one of the most powerful tools an agency can leverage to grow its value and quality.