Wrapping It Up in Style

Contributed by Brad Egeland
PresentEveryone wants to get the project engagement started off properly.  It’s important…you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.  So lots of time and effort goes into planning for the all important first customer contact and project kickoff meeting – which may actually be the same thing, though I always try to reach out to the customer in advance to introduce myself, set some initial expectations and get their input into the project kickoff session. A customer who has concerns out of the gate or lacks confidence in the project manager and/or delivery team can be a headache for the PM throughout the engagement. Those first impressions are critical.

After kickoff, we head into the heart of the project – design, development, testing, more testing, more testing, etc. etc. etc. Finally, deployment comes. Ahh…easy sailing. Unless you’ve had a project filled with issues and customer concerns and change orders and scope headaches, then deployment should be a celebratory experience. It may be anyway if you’re putting an end to the headaches you’ve been having. The problem is, many of us already have our next big assignment…or assignments. Deployment can be like the last day of 4th grade.  Party, candy, balloons and not much attention paid to anything important. What customer? I’m already thinking about next week’s kickoff….out of sight, out of mind, right?

Well, that’s a pretty bad way to wrap up what was likely a fairly long and detailed engagement that was pretty important to at least someone…your customer. And hopefully it was important to you and your team as well – I’m sure it was important to your senior leadership. I’m not saying it wasn’t important to you, but if you start ignoring your customer and moving your head off to the next engagement already, then you’re saying to your customer clearly that this current project that is technically still active is of little or no importance to you.

In order to ensure that you ‘wrap everything up in style’ so to speak, you really should go through a checklist. A detailed checklist may be best – especially for a long term project, a very high profile project, a high dollar project, or one that experienced many issues and customer concerns along the way. However, at the very least, a simple list of steps and actions to take before confirming everything is complete and finished, is in order. For me, this includes:

Detailed review of the project schedule.  The first thing I always do as deployment is approaching is to sit down with the project schedule and my team and run through all tasks to verify that everything has been completed as planned. Have all deliverables been delivered, all milestones completed, all tests performed, and all reviews and signoffs documented?

Review the project folder for all appropriate signoffs.  Next, check the project folder – whatever that means for you and your team – for official signoffs for every deliverable you’ve invoiced for. If anything is missing, now is the time to get that official signoff for your files.

Check with accounting to ensure all customer invoices to date have been paid. Check with your primary accounting contact and make sure that all project invoices have been paid up to date. An open invoice could be an oversight, but it could also be a sign of a customer issue. If anything remains unpaid, follow up with the project sponsor.

Review the issues list to ensure all have been closed out. Run through the issues list you’ve been keeping throughout the project. Are all issues resolved and signed off? If not, either get them resolved now or verify the customer is ok (in writing) with deploying even though some issues are still outstanding.

Review the change orders list to ensure all are complete and signed off.  Finally (and order here does not really matter), review the change order list.  Have all change orders been completed, paid for, implemented and signed off by the customer? Change orders are bigger than issues – some issues are acceptable for customers to handle on their side post-implementation. But change orders need to be closed out and signed off before the project can be considered complete.

And finally, once you’ve identified each of these is completed and acceptable, then make sure you get a final project acceptance/signoff from the project sponsor. You’ll want to show everything is complete to their satisfaction at this point in case any issues arise later.


Brad-bio66Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 9, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s site at http://www.bradegeland.com/.

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