Project sign off – do people really know what this means?

All projects need at some stage or other, formal sign off. Maybe it’s the business case, or an end of stage review or a change control document. What is interesting talking with senior managers and some project managers is that I am not convinced that the person signing off the document realises what they are signing off.

Why do I say this? Here are 3 recent reasons:    

  • When the project sponsor approached the project manager she queried why he was spending so much time on the project (she was also the project manager’s boss). He pointed to the PID (charter) showing he would need to work on the project 4 days a week. This had been signed off by the sponsor
  • A change to a project agreed by the project sponsor resulted in extra costs. The sponsor then asked a lot of questions, via email as to why the project spend was higher. The project manager realised what was afoot and rather than spend a lot of time doing some analysis and wasting time called the sponsor to explain the extra costs were based on a change approved by the sponsor.
  • The project end of stage review was agreed, and the sponsor expressed his satisfaction about progress to date. A mere 3 days later he queried something that was delivered during the signed off stage. He said he was not happy, however he has signed off that stage

These are real live examples told to me. Yes, there is probably more to them than what is written here, but it does seem to indicate that when a document is signed off, the implications are not always clear. People can change their mind however, are they clear on the implications of doing this in the project management environment?

This seems a clear case (opportunity) for the project manager to explain to the sponsor or whoever, the implications of signing off the document. My cynicism also suggests that this means putting in time and effort to communicate!

Have you experienced problems with this? It would be interesting to find out.

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4 Responses to Project sign off – do people really know what this means?

  1. Pingback: Project sign off – do people really know what this means? | #PMChat

  2. Barry Hodge says:

    I couldn’t agree more too often Sponsors sign and then forget particularly when signing by email. I try to get some one on one time with the Sponsor with the object of the meeting to approve the document. Then once the document is approved I then announce it to all project stakeholders that a milestone has been achieved. This communication is in a different format depending on the type of stakeholder. By making a fuss like this the Sponsor is less likely to forget that they have signed something.

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      I like the ‘making a fuss’ comment comment Barry. This is where my cynicism comes in…69% of people have said that project management communications are poor or very poor. These stats are from my company Project Agency. Thus, making a fuss, communicating to stakeholders is vital.

      Great comment and thanks you for taking the time to comment

  3. Pingback: How good are your listening skills? | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead

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