When outsourcing a job to consultants and service providers, I’ve often found that achieving "agreement" with a client that a project is finalized is one of the most delicate times.
This is usually due to the fact that by closing the project the client knows that:
- He or she is agreeing that there are no more pending requests.
- The consultant/service provider will no longer serve them as to the scope of that project.
- It authorizes the final payment of the project.
Scope verification—the process of formalizing the approval of a project scope—recommends progressive approvals are made as partial deliveries of the scope take place. This process, if well planned and applied, helps to minimize the weight of the final approval term.
The strategy I developed over many years of consulting work is something I call “ground preparation.” This strategy has four simple stages that need to be well distributed in the time near the project closure to increase your chances of a non-traumatic closure.
Let's review them:
1st Stage: As you move close to the end of the project, start the conversation, preferably face-to-face, with the stakeholder responsible for accepting the project.
2nd Stage: Send that same stakeholder a draft version of the project acceptance document that is as close as possible to the final version.
3rd Stage: After giving the stakeholder time to digest the draft, follow up to discuss any questions or concerns. Also, this is a good time to let them know when they can expect the final acceptance document.
4th Stage: Send the final version of the acceptance document and suggest that you collect it with, if applicable, some sort of closing event.
Of course, we are talking about a project that has successfully achieved its goals. But even projects that have had to be aborted or projects with a low degree of success at the end must be formally shut down. A lot of this strategy can be replicated whenever the end is imminent.
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