Three Keys to a Proper Project Acceptance Letter
So you’ve completed your project and are now in full-on project close mode. It’s a great feeling to be over the finish line and in a state where you are reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of your project (hopefully more good than anything else!). One element of the project close process that is often overlooked is the formality of a project acceptance letter. What the project acceptance letter is, is formal acceptance of the project deliverables and scope and effectively releases you from any further obligations to the client under the scope of that project. Never written a project acceptance letter before? Don’t worry – I’ll go through the three key parts of an effective project acceptance letter.
Account for Contracted Obligations
The first thing your customer will do when opening the project acceptance letter is pull out your signed contract and ensure that everything they were promised (and presumably paid for!) has been delivered. You will be asked this question inevitably so why not make it easy for everyone and ensure that you concisely account for all contracted obligations (through your original statement of work and subsequent approved change requests) so that the customer knows they’ve received everything they were promised. If you start the process without appropriately accounting for all that you’ve been obligated to deliver, it can lead to a quite painful project close process.
Don’t Invite More Scope
Your letter should have no open-ended language when it comes to describing what you’ve delivered as part of this project. If there are any remaining question marks (i.e. outstanding issues that will “get fixed as soon as possible”) then your project is not done. You need to button those down – either by addressing all outstanding items or by getting agreement that they are out of scope. Open-ended language in a project close letter will undoubtedly raise questions about what’s been delivered and cause confusion for everyone on whether or not it is in or out of scope of your project. Keep the language tight!
Require Sign-off (Digital or otherwise)
Your acceptance letter is no good unless it is formally acknowledged by the customer. Always require sign-off of your letter by the customer (typically the project sponsor – not just the customer PM). This gives you some ammunition for down the road should the (unlikely) scenario occur where a customer indicates they did not get what they were promised. You’re not pulling a fast one on anyone but you are needing to protect yourself and your organization from being held accountable for items that you never committed to
Project acceptance letters are a nice, formal way to put an end to a project. Often times there are payments associated to official project acceptance which is an even greater reason to make sure this is as clean-cut as possible. Remember, account for what you’ve promised to deliver, keep it concise and clear and get approval and you will have a very clean project close process.