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Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership – Part IX (#9 in the series Project Managers and Vendors: Creating a Successful Partnership)
By Linda Miller of Traveling Coaches, Inc.

Confirm Project Completion and Vendor Release

When is a project complete? Taking the time to be very explicit about the criteria for project completion can help avoid being blindsided by late surprises. The criteria should also be outlined in the communication plan. A user acceptance test (UAT) from the law firm and the vendor perspective should be in the project plan to ensure that both parties are satisfied that the project deliverables are acceptable.

Completion criteria are tools for communication and an important aspect of “quality management” on a project. The team needs to agree on when a particular activity or phase is completed. When the project is complete, a formal, written release from the firm to the vendor should be prepared and signed by the PM. This release should confirm that the firm is satisfied with the vendor services and that all deliverables have been accepted and are successful. At this point, the vendor is released from the project. The vendor should then schedule a wrap-up meeting with the firm to review lessons learned, accomplishments well done and the overall budget.

Wrap It Up and Celebrate Success

At the outset of a project, stakeholders must agree to a definition of success and the metrics by which that success will be measured. If all goes according to plan, it’s now time to celebrate.

Once all the system documentation is provided from the vendor, all invoices have been presented and budget confirmed and all users have had sufficient time to use the product, the PM should conduct a closure or wrap-up meeting with the project team. The PM uses this opportunity to gain feedback from the project team on lessons learned and to unveil
the successes of the project by each team member. Don’t rush this meeting; allow plenty of time. Feedback identifying project strengths and weaknesses should be presented in a positive and constructive manner. Awards or verbal recognition may be given to the project team.

There is no cookie-cutter approach to a project celebration. Some pat the team on the back and say, “Good job! Now let’s get started on the next project.” Some have a happy hour or celebratory dinner for the entire project team (including vendors). Some have praiseworthy memos sent out to the appropriate chain of command with the project team copied. Some do all of the above. Whatever the process, be sure to give the appropriate pat on the back to the project team to recognize that their hard work and diligence made success a reality and to encourage success on future projects.

And give yourself a pat on the back for communicating well, keeping an open mind, organizing and managing the project while forming a partnership with your vendor that led to a successful project outcome!

This article was first published in ILTA’s July, 2007 white paper titled “Project Management — Broadening Your Scope” and is reprinted here with permission. For more information about ILTA, visit their website at http://www.iltanet.org.

Linda Miller is co-owner and principal of Traveling Coaches, Inc., leading the company’s team of project managers, application specialists and document management engineers. Linda has extensive experience leading projects with law firms and consulting law firms on project management. Since 1995, Linda has served as the company’s technology partner managing all technical and project management operations. Linda is a dynamic presenter and implementer of project management, adult learning theories (training techniques) and IT management level courses. Linda holds many technical certifications in the legal industry enhancing her valuable experience as a consultant. Linda can be reached at lmiller@travelingcoaches.com.

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