As the end of a project nears feelings can be mixed, often lying somewhere between joy at a job well done or relief that it will finally be over. What often gets missed out on however, at the stage when final deliverables are being handed over or an end date is approaching, is what is actually supposed to happen right at the end, the “turning off the lights” moment that brings proper closure to the project.
Project sign off is not necessarily difficult but doing it badly can have lingering long-term effects and doing it well can add significant value to the project completed. So, it’s easy to see why knowing how to sign off on a project becomes a necessary skill for a PM, though it’s one that can only be experienced first-hand relatively rarely.
How to Sign Off on a Project
Recheck check-lists and to-do notes
While the push to close out a project is on it can be surprisingly easy to forget small (or even larger) deliverables or elements of the project. These are often contained in clarifications and client meetings and never make it to be included on a project plan. It’s always a good thing to go back over the notes for such meetings and individual task-strand checklists to make sure the client is getting everything that was promised.
Request client signoff
After checking that, you can contact the relevant client-side stakeholders to ask them to perform the same checks on their side and, if they are satisfied, to give project sign off for the deliverables and overall contract.
Have a project review
An excellent way to gain more value from the project is to conduct a post-mortem with team leaders, the whole team or other stakeholders. This will reveal important information about processes and how they functioned, such as what worked well, what didn’t and what should be done differently in the future.
Request client feedback
After they have given project sign off from their end, it can also be very beneficial to ask the client to give honest feedback about how the project went. Getting an outside view on your team’s work can be invaluable for improving how you work moving forward.
Release your team
A team is a gathering of resources with the specific skills required to perform the job at hadn, but after project sign off, the need for that specific team make-up is no longer there. This is an excellent opportunity to thank everyone for their hard work and even to celebrate properly by having a party or at least something fun in the office, before the team splits up and start on new projects.
Though it might seem that many of the documents used throughout the project will have little further relevance, experience will tell you that the same situations and structures will almost definitely arise again. Take the time to clearly identify and store everything that has been used. A cloud-based project management tool like Clarizen is perfect for allowing quick and easy access to project documents.
Write a brief report
To finish up the project sign off process, write a small report for yourself and other stakeholders or executives. Briefly describe how closely the project adhered to the initial project plan, what risks or issues occurred and whether the project was a success in general.