Sign-offs – Necessary Evil?


Chasing sign-off can be tedious, At times you may feel chasing the relevant stakeholder to sign you off can be tedious. But sign-offs are a very important part of Project Management. Not just at the end of a project but throughout there may be parts that you should sign off for confirmation of achievement

Why are Sign-offs important?

Sign-offs can be done for partial work or for a project or project phase being completed. A partial sign-off always indicates what part is being signed off. It is clearly that it is not the entire project scope being signed for. Even the final sign-off should include a short summary of the scope / benefits achieved. Especially in construction of installation projects the warranty begins with the sign off. It signals that you have handed over the construction or installation to the client. So if you do not get your sign-off in good time, you may actually be liable for equipment you have not handed over to the client. Especially tricky is the situation when a client starts using what you are building / installing before you have completed works.

Sign offs show that a Stakeholder confirms:

Partial Sign-offs:

  • A milestone has been achieved
  • A Benefit has been achieved
  • Something is now working as expected
  • Something has been built / created as expected

Final Sign-off:

This is now confirmation that the project is complete and all deliverables have been achieved

There are lot’s of templates on that can be downloaded and adapted to the needs of your projects.

These Sign-offs serve one big purpose:

Confirmation that you have achieved. This is important for a variety of reasons:

  • Legal confirmation
  • Contractual confirmation
  • Approval to now invoice for work done
  • Confirmation by Stakeholders that their goals have been achieved.
  • etc.
What should you sign off?

Every project must have a final sign-off. Even internal projects! Without it you can not adjourn your project team and continue with other work. In client project sign-offs are also the permission to now invoice either for the milestone achieved, if you have agreed milestone payments, or the project is being closed out.

However, in some projects you may have other stakeholders impacted or their systems affected by project work. Then it is good to let them sign off as well, that their systems are working as expected after the work affecting them has been completed. For example in a recent project we were migrating data from an old storage facility to a new one. The System owners were involved while their data was being migrated, and once done we asked them to confirm by signing that everything is working well. Where there was some problems they raised an issue and it was resolved.

This way you have a confirmation that all was well at the point in time and no complaints can be raised later. If there is an issue in future, then it will be treated as a normal helpdesk call and attended outside of the project.

Who should sign?

I always recommend that you have at least 2 parties sign: The one who did the work & the one who approves. In partial sign-offs I may add a third party, like the sponsor (internal projects) or the project manager etc, depending on the magnitude on what you are signing off. If you have several vendors involved in a project, then each needs to be signed off individually for their part of the work.


Sign-offs are important legal documents that confirm work has been achieved, contract conditions have been met. It gives you the official approval that things had been right at the time. This way there will be no future claims that things had never been done properly. It also serves as a reassurance for peace of mind. If you clarify from the beginning that you will be asking for sign-offs at certain points and that partial sign-offs do not mean you are signing off the entire project, the stakeholders will be willing to work with you on these,

Let’s do sign-offs when and where needed!

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