Getting signoff on your project deliverables is something that you would expect should happen once you deliver what you feel is the scope of work that was agreed to. On paper that’s exactly what a signoff should look like however there are a number of common obstacles to getting deliverable signoff, ranging from simple logistics to complex arguments over the quality of your work to the customer’s willingness or hesitation to provide a signoff. This post will offer three tips for improving your deliverable signoff process.
The days of printing, signing, scanning and emailing documents are slowly starting to fade away. For a number of organizations, electronic signatures are becoming a simple and effective way to execute documents. There are plenty of options in available to you for implementing an electronic signature solution and by allowing your officers and customers to sign documents electronically, you are removing a logistical pain of having to transpose your documents from electronic to paper to electronic. This can improve turnaround for document signatures as well as maintain a “cleaner” version of the document (try searching for a particular word or phrase on a scanned PDF – let me know if you have any luck with that).
Clearly Defined Acceptance Criteria
Ok, moving away from the easy part of signoffs, if you are going to have an issue getting sign off on a deliverable, chances are it’s due to a dispute of some sort on the customer’s end on whether or not the deliverable has been accepted by the customer or not. It’s vital that before work even starts on a particular deliverable, that clearly defined and understood acceptance criteria be drafted by yourself and your customer and that you both agree to the wording so that when the deliverable is handed over, there is no chance to question the state of “done”. Defining this acceptance criterion up front can add a bit of front-load pain but in the end it more than pays off when you are able to quickly and easily obtain sign off from your customer by delivering something that meets the agreed-to acceptance criteria.
Break Up Your Deliverables
Sometimes customers can have a challenge with accepting a large deliverable. Something such as “system implementation” can be a daunting deliverable to sign off on (kind of like buying a house with a signature). To make it easier for your customer to mentally accept that a deliverable is truly done, try breaking up your deliverables to more bite-sized chunks that the customer can feel more comfortable with approving. Yes, this does add a layer of paperwork that other projects may not see, but it does offer the approach of smaller, more incremental deliverables that tend to get less scrutiny (not that you are not providing your very best) and are likely less subject to unwarranted debate over the state of the completeness of the deliverable.
Deliverable signoffs are a crucial element to keeping your project on track. By having your customer acknowledge that they accept the work you have done is vital to keeping your project moving forward (not to mention getting paid!).