Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sign-off – whose responsibility is it?

Digital projects – as with any other projects – are defined and split into stages of development. Now this can be true of the older waterfall approach to coding projects but also applies to agile development. The key point of sign-offs is that they have been linked to the payment schedule. Signed-off stages meant defined cash flow points for the business. That’s why they have been so important. But maybe this is being redefined.

If there is a project manager then often sign-offs would be part of their job spec. But it is amazing to see that the people responsible for sign-offs have proliferated. The relationship with clients is the important factor. And this relationship can be described in several ways: are the clients ‘clients’, ‘stakeholders’ or what? Is sign-off about money, satisfaction or quality?

Nadia Bianco sees sign-offs as a part of client management. She looks at sign-offs more as involvement and reassurance that the project is running smoothly for the client than money stages for the business in Part 1 Client Management (18.3.14).

JISC comes down heavily on the Quality Assurance side of the coin. They see the sign-off process as part of a Quality Audit system. Who signs off and when are important pieces of the audit. See the Personal Checking section (down the page) for this approach.

Ann Borg takes the stakeholder approach. Although her blog relates to designing training (and it doesn’t specify digital training development), the principle can be applied in a digital context too. She advocates defining the stakeholder’s sign-off role so that it is unambiguous as this will then make the process of sign-off smoother: Top tips to build and manage your stakeholder relationships.

So, whose responsibility is it in your company to get sign-off? What are they getting sign-off on? Why are they getting sign-off? It seems that the link to payment stages isn’t always the motivation now. Or, is this hidden by other factors?