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22 August 2019

Project Sign-Off: Control Your Projects’ Closing with a Single Document

it-project-management

You’ve reached the final stretch! Your project was accomplished on time, expectations were made, and objectives were reached. Congratulations are in order, but before the podium comes the closing statement! The crucial document is the project sign-off, which outlines the who, what, when, and how. 

All good things must come to an end at some point.  

Amid the voyage of software development, the Project Sign-Off document is the all-important flight manifesto. In this case, the project’s close-out shares significance with the project kick-off

What is the Project Sign-Off? 

Even though the project is completed, there are still some things to be done. Project sign-off is typically executed during the contract closure phase – the company presents the results of the work done to the client and then, after getting the necessary acceptance from them, should get a client statement to verify that the job was completed. 

You can use a project sign-off template , as these are easily found online. This sheet is a document stating information about the project, such as key goals and whether they were met, observations and comments, as well as start and end dates. It will essentially be a measure of your success. 

It is important to have everything needed for the project sign-off prepared in advance to avoid making any last-minute changes. To make sure everything goes smoothly, plan the sign-off process earlier. Ensure you have enough time to properly document everything. I can't tell you how long it will take to create the sign off document. It could take a few days or several months, depending on how many pages are needed. Governments, for example, use “sign-off books” instead of just several sheets, due to the amount of information that has to be included. 

The sheet should be signed by all the parties involved, including both the stakeholders and project owners. This means the project is complete, and you now have protection from liabilities. It can improve trust, create accountability and protect your business. A stakeholder signature is like a thumbs-up sign for you. 

Then, after the customer approves the deliverables set out by the company, the handover of the project takes place, which effectively closes the contracts of the IT project

Project Sign-Off and Delivery 

The formal end of the project is a milestone moment with specific measurables. Both parties to a deal a cknowledge the delivery of the promised deliverables. Checking against the Project Management Plan, you should verify these measurables point-by-point. 

OFFICIAL APPROVAL 

This process warrants formal approval from the customer, whereby they agree that the deliverable features, outlined during the project kick-off are complete. 

FULL DISCLOSURE 

Primarily, once the project is complete, an official confirmation must be made by each member of the software house team. All project managers and team leaders should communicate the finalisation and prepare to inform the stakeholders of the project. 

NO ROOM FOR MANOEUVRES 

As the project draws to a close, no room remains for decisive movements and updates. Any reservations or concerns should be raised as early as possible within the project life cycle before formal handovers are due to take place. 

Of course, members of the project management team should still disclose any potential doubts they may have regarding the result. As the project Sign-Off is a time for reflection, any concerns should make their way into formal documentation, as a guide for subsequent projects. Despite the inconvenience caused by this, it will alleviate any problems within the earliest possible stages. 

A Sign-Off Document is More Than a Formality 

The Project Sign-Off is the instrument for the complete handover of final deliverables. It forms the nucleus of the Project Close-Out stage. Take a closer look at parts of the process: 

APPROVAL PROCESS AND TESTING 

This process ensures your work remains qualitatively consistent. Final testing of the product or service then verifies overall quality. It is extremely important, as you need to be sure that you are not delivering an incomplete or faulty end product. It is worth doing not only for the sign-off document creation but for your company in general. You wouldn’t want to deal with the consequences of delivering a failure when you declared high-quality. 

PROJECT DOCUMENTATION 

You want to have all necessary documents prepared and attached to the Project Sign-Off sheet. Everything, including contracts, meeting notes, and financial statements, will help with analytics and estimating the success of the project. It will also give you valuable insight into it. 

A presentable overview must include the tasks completed, with successful deliverables, evidence of realised project demands, and clear accountability. Additionally, the documentation cites key contributors, alongside their roles and responsibilities within the project’s framework. As this report outlines project completion, it should be clear, concise, and informative to the end-user. As mentioned before, you can of course use a Project Sign-Off template pdf – there are printable ones on many business-related websites. 

FINAL SIGN-OFF DOCUMENT AUDIT AND REPORT 

An independent examination of the product takes place, verifying the product’s compliance with the client’s criteria. Due to a greater focus on overall compliance, the audit differs from software peer reviews, or software management reviews, whose focus is on technical content and quality aspects. This concludes a compilation of the findings into a shorter digest, for presentation to the client.  

The Project Sign-Off Document 

The sign-off document includes all practical and necessary information one would need to confirm what kind of project had taken place, who was involved when this took place, as well as the specific elements making up the project. 

This should be a simplified and concise document containing the following fundamental elements: 

  • A statement indicating the purpose of the paper is to ‘signify the end of the project.’ 

Note: this can be worded in any way, but should be deemed communicable, at the very least, in the form of the title 

Note: In some cases, it is a good idea to include projects/deliverables which have been abandoned too. 

  • Spaces for signatures. 

I have prepared a mock-up of the document , which you can view here. Feel free to copy this document example for your future use as well. Remember that you can use a requirement sign-off template as well – there are many sign-off project template pdf files available on the Internet. 

Mind the Project Sponsor 

Trust is the key to the working relationship, as confidence in either party ensures a smooth process , lasting through to the end of the project. Communication and transparency underpin this relationship, whereby any issues should be presented at the earliest possible stage. 

This way, you will avoid last-minute issues, which can ultimately delay or even void the closing process. At the very least, pressing concerns can delay incoming payments, with the potential for limiting the payment entirely. Only when the project is officially finished and all the parties involved agree on that, any remaining payments and resources can be released. 

Thoroughness is as essential to closure as is the product development itself. Be sure to mark where your responsibilities end and theirs begin. This way, you ensure that your agreement protects your team from additional and unnecessary duties. It's essential to remember that your notion of completion may differ from your client's, therefore be sure to set clear definitions and scope of the work. 

Legal instruments can also provide protection. Consider the use of clauses citing working day limits , e.g. 60-days, 100 hours, et. al. Additionally, ensure you set a limitation of liabilities, as well as agreed-upon terms of payment. 

Final Thoughts 

Your project is now complete, so it’s time to make it official. 

Your last task is to organise the project documents for presentation to the client. Be sure to include all final reports and pay special attention to the coveted sign-off sheet. It must get to all members of the team, to ensure clarity and consensus upon the completion of the project and the subsequent meeting with the client. Of course, some items will be overlooked. In this instance, any outstanding issues must be entered into a to-do list or another similar document. 

As a final word of advice, completion moments are also reflection moments. Project managers should take time to review the lessons learned from this work and apply this to their next project. 

You have the advice, and you have your sign-off document – now you can safely land this plane and turn off the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign. Congratulations, your team has made it! 

 


Author
Karol Parafianowicz
Senior Project Manager