Guideline for a Simple Signoff Process

Quick Summary
Screenshot The simple process outlined in this document confirms sponsor signoff on project phases or component projects in a program, by using efficient, focused meetings and folding into the existing lines of communication.

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What this is

This simple process can be used to get and confirm sponsor approvals at key checkpoints in a project or program. Two versions are provided: Example 1 is specifically written for situations involving multiple projects that are part of a larger program, with a Program Manager responsible for ensuring that each project has sponsor review and approval at key steps along the way. Example 2 is written for a single project. This process came from an IT department, but it's applicable to any kind of project.

Why it's useful

A key sponsor role is providing high-level oversight to projects and programs and ensuring they are staying true to the original business goals, including scope, cost, and time targets. Engaging the sponsor in periodic reviews and signoffs certifies that the sponsor is aware of the project's progress and is exercising oversight responsibilities at the right time.

This simple, regular process for managing a signoff will help ensure these reviews happen, despite the typically busy schedules of executive-level sponsors. A defined process also conveys to new sponsors when and why they're needed during the project. Finally, a process like this is critical to ensuring the signoff actually means something. It guarantees that the sponsor is engaged in hearing and discussing the issues, not just signing a piece of paper.

Program Managers can use this process to get approval at key points during the individual projects that make up the program, while a Project Manager of a single stand-alone project can use this process to obtain the necessary approvals from their sponsor.

How to use it

  1. Define the important review and approval checkpoints during your projects. Different types of projects might have some unique review points, but in general each project should at least include these:
    • Sponsor acceptance of the draft Project Charter near the end of the initiation phase.
    • Sponsor acceptance of key documents at the end of the high-level design and planning phase.
    • Sponsor acknowledgement of work done on important phase completions.
    • Sponsor acceptance of successful project completion, including live deployment to customers.
  2. Discuss the importance of the sign-off process with your Sponsor, the timing of reviews and approvals, and your proposal to accomplish them using a combination of review meetings and offline discussions. (The examples in this guideline provide specifics.) Show the Sponsor how you've designed these interactions to be very time-efficient while still involving them in critical reviews, and secure their agreement on the review points and the process.
  3. Review the process with the team and define expectations for the different review points. What documents will get reviewed and who is responsible? What work happens in the team before the documents are brought to a sponsor-level review? What will constitute a meaningful review with the sponsor and how will you build that into your review agenda?
  4. Follow the process steps to hold your review meeting and complete any offline reviews and recommendations after the major review meeting. Work together with the project manager and team to resolve any remaining issues finish the approval and signoff.

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Related Templates
Phase Signoff Process
This guideline shows a team's process for getting meaningful executive signoffs at the end of key project phases, to approve transition to the next phase and expenditures.

Guidelines - Completion Criteria
Completion criteria are explicit goals that must be attained to call an element of a project, or the entire project, "complete."

Project Charter
Once your project idea has been evaluated and approved for further investigation, you need to communicate the major parameters and high-level information. This template for a succinct project charter helps you summarize that critical information.

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