Why acceptance certificates should be a crucial part of your agency’s processes
How many of you issue acceptance certificates? There was a momentary silence when Julie Bray from Ventiv raised this at the recent Advanced Digital Project Management workshop in Melbourne.
There are many forms like the statement of work and contract where you’re chasing the client for sign-off, and it’s daunting to think you need to chase them again for the acceptance certificates. However, acceptance certificates are just as important for your commercial success says Julie. The concept is borrowed from the building world where completion or occupancy certificates are mandated for safety, and as a payment milestone.
As the agency, you issue an acceptance certificates when your project/campaign/site is about to go live, or is compete. “Acceptance Certificates provide a very concrete signpost to acknowledge completion of a piece of work and that the client now accepts responsibility for it. It signifies the end of the Development Phase and is a key entry criteria to going live”, says Julie.
The certificate needs to include
- A clear statement as to what is being signed off (with references to the appropriate supporting deliverables) as per the original statement of work
- An area to allow any outstanding or known defects to be included. It’s very unusual not to have a few low priority issues that still need to be resolved so this then provides a finite list of any remaining issues that will be solved post-acceptance
- A plan to fix those issues in a specific time frame
- Allow 5 days for the client to accept and sign off, or deemed acceptance. This avoids delay in payment and and allows you to move to the next stage.
The 6 benefits of an acceptance certificate:
- It triggers payment. That has to be a strong motivator!
- You can then move to a different phase of the contract such as warranty, or support and maintenance. The support phase also gives you the opportunity to involve less experienced staff
- It facilitates discussions with the client to ensure that all deliverables have been completed as expected and all outstanding issues are identified.
- It is very helpful in preventing the ‘long tail’ that is associated with many projects as it forces all parties to agree on the status of the project at a point in time.
- And you have agreement with your client to fix known problems in a specific time frame.
- The project team gets to feel a sense of completion and it’s the perfect time to celebrate!