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Every project has an acceptance criteria defined for deliverables but I wonder how many of us get the explicit acceptance from our stakeholders. In a long-running project we keep delivering to the client but rarely bother to get a formal approval on the delivery--which may create problems at the end of the project. I've experienced problems in a couple of projects because of no formal acceptance of the delivery.
Ideally, for each delivery you should ask for explicit acceptance from the authorized stakeholder and communicate that authorization through weekly status reports. This will help you in the final acceptance of the project and initiating the maintenance phase, which would be a billable effort. Then the project team should follow up with the client to get a sign-off on specification, design, code, etc.
Am I alone with this problem or is it something others have faced as well?
I agree with you, Sanjay, gaining acceptance should be part of the exit phases. I don't view that as a problem per se, but as a requirement.
The problem is that the project is not always structured in a way that requires acceptance as part of the exits or sign off.
Often project managers are rushed through the project with many verbal agreements from stakeholders, while skipping getting official sign offs from them, only to find out that agreements are not even coming from the right stakeholders.
I'd say that if the stakeholders are identified carefully and key sign off authorities are confirmed by the business sponsor as being valid and appropriate, it would be just a matter of setting expectations that every exit can only be passed through only when the signoffs are obtained. And it would require setting expectations ahead of time with stakeholders what those signoffs are and acceptance criteria is. Criteria has to be specific, achievable, linked to deliverables and expected results.
Without it, stakeholders often come up with reasons why they can't sign off (which are often valid, just not formulated or linked to original requirements appropriately) and these reasons cannot even be validated at this point as original requirements and project teams, therefore, simply either work on just getting things done at all costs or fighting these last minute requirements in hopes to close the project (to either open a new one for these new requirements or pass these back to the business, marking them as out of scope items).
I find that gaining acceptance from stakeholders does not start when we are done with the project, but starts at the very beginning when we set expectations, obtain requirements, confirm the understanding of those requirements in business and technical terms, confirm sign off / acceptance criteria, etc. The rest just flows if managed and communicated effectively, appropriate to the performing organization.
The acceptance of the deliveries is a common issue if theyâ€™re not handled in a formal way. The solution that I found was to settle an original agreement with the decision takers that if they didnâ€™t check and accept/reject the deliveries in the next 5 or 8 days, the PM will assume that the delivery was accepted; thus the project wonâ€™t be delayed and the deliveries will be checked.
FYC Group - VENEZUELA