Avoid the Internal Project Trap

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By Ramiro Rodrigues






In my last post, I shared tips for closing external projects. Now it’s time to tackle internal efforts.

As part of this discussion, it’s worth remembering that PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) does not differentiate between the origin of the customer (internal or external) for the scope verification process.

So even if a project is internal, project managers should obtain acceptance and have at least one approval by the customer in order for the project to be formally closed.

A crucial question to consider: What does your organization's project methodology say? Are you required to get a form signed to show formal acceptance at the end of the project? If so, the good news is you’re closing process is outlined for you.

It gets complicated when you’re not required to sign a formal document or there is no defined methodology for closing an internal project. It creates a great organizational trap for project leaders as projects that are not formally completed tend to repeat the phoenix fable: a project is resurrected over and over again with new work requirements because there is no record of a signed agreement signalling the completion of the work.

Imagine having to re-run a project months—or even years—later when there are no more resources, schedule or budget available to execute the remnants that emerged? On top of this, you’re probably already involved in other assignments, and you may not even remember the full context of that project.

The most effective strategy for not falling into this trap is to produce an informal document of acceptance—a simple text that describes the macro deliveries of the project scope and send your customer a hard copy or email copy. But be careful to include a text that makes it clear that the parties (you and the customer) agree that the deliveries quoted have been made to the desired quality.

And make sure you receive acknowledgement—even a simple “okay” response will be sufficient to file the document and to protect it from unwanted resurrection.

How do you ensure internal projects don’t come back to haunt you in your organization?

Posted by Ramiro Rodrigues on: August 11, 2017 12:49 PM | Permalink

Comments (10)

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Project Closure is a important milestone for concluding the project activities mutually and logically. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing. Part of project closure is the Formal Sign-off document which must be signed by both parties. This is a SOP. This document includes the final analysis of the product scope-whether it is up to mark or not; releasing and hand over of resources to the concerned department so they can use that for their next projects and contract closure for any sub contractors. This officially releases you from any liability from the delivered deliverables of the project and the deliverables are up to mark of the client's expectations.

Thanks a lot for sharing this article. Internal Projects are the framework for any organisation and collaboration amongst the internal departments becomes very important. I also found an interesting piece of knowledge about how effectively manage internal projects. Check this out http://bit.ly/2ktfIH7

Great Post Ramiro and very true! I faced this same challenge with my past organization. The issue was, we had a customer who did not like to sign off on anything. This made it very difficult for my project manager to close out his projects in a timely manner.

This post really brought back memories of a few past challenges we had.


Like your post! In my case, even if the organization doesn't have any templates for formal initiation and closing of the project I always manage to arrange a kick off meeting to explain and reach an agreement on the scope of the project.

After the meeting, all stakeholders should recibe a meeting minute and a request to reply back with their agreement or commentaries. This have proof very useful to influence and avoid change request that are clearly out of the initial scope.

Thank you!

We do have a deliverable/project acceptance form and process. It is applied for both internal and external projects.

The best thing to do is to give the acceptance forms well in advance so there are no surprises come time to get the "okay".

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