top of page
  • Writer's picturegvalyou

Project Sign Off - Is It Necessary?

Sign Off of key deliverables or tasks of a project is often an overlooked yet important control item. Sign off is physically or digitally affirming that the parties executing have agreed on some point. Common project examples include a checkpoint or milestone that is met, agreement on detailed requirements, a change in a project, a government regulatory check or any number of other decision points on a project.

Every organization and project is different and sign off policies often vary widely. When not legally required the level of sign off is a fine balance between over managing and under managing a project. Many organizations have unique project management governance, controls and methodology specifying what needs to be signed off, when and by who. Project managers often will skip or minimize this important step and at some time in the future it will rear its head in many forms; it could be that someone leaves an organization and a key approval comes into question; that delivered functionality that doesn’t measure up to the needs or desires of a stakeholder; selective memory on just about any decision point on a project.

A few suggested rules around sign off are:

  • Determine at the start of a project what types of actions require sign off and by who, then communicate the process to all dependent participants.

  • Document and secure sign off on any of the following regardless of project type.

  • Any Business Case

  • Any Statement of Work, or other agreement on what work will be accomplished and the ground rules for that work

  • Any budget or funding agreement

  • Agreed upon requirements

  • As the project progresses anything that changes or impacts a constraint in a significant or material fashion (Budget, Schedule, Scope, Quality, Resources, Risk)

  • If you are leveraging a methodology with phases or gates, the movement from one phase to the next should be signed off on. For example, users may sign off on the satisfactory completion of acceptance testing of a new software application prior to launch.

  • A project completion or closing document that ensures all requirements are met

  • Take time to explain and review anything you are signing or requesting a signature on. The goal isn’t the signature, but agreement and understanding.

A frequent excuse for a lack of sign off is that requesting sign off shows a lack of trust. Nothing could be further from the truth, it should build confidence that everyone involved is openly communicating and making accountable commitments as decisions are made or checkpoints are met.

Sign off is a great way to ensure that project communication is healthy and that there are no surprises for anyone involved in a project at any point.

Disclaimer, Copyright and Trademark Statement

This article is provided for informational and educational purposes. It makes no warranties as to the claims, accuracy or fitness of information provided, referenced or cited. Use of the information, instructions and any examples contained in this work is at your own risk. There should be no implied endorsement of this article by any person or organization referenced.

All trademarks, company, product and services names, images, descriptions, or public website content are property of their respective owner as source referenced. It is your responsibility to ensure that your use thereof complies with such licenses and/or rights.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page