When should Project Team responsibility end?
If you buy a product that does not perform as promised you expect to take it back to get it fixed and someone to deal with it. Yet businesses often create a culture where no-one has or even expects ongoing accountability for the internal products produced.
So many project teams are permitted to bail out at the moment of truth, when they hand the final output to their customers and stakeholders, irrespective of whether the output works or not! There often is no one there when significant issues arise, things are not understood or worse still – the project output fails.
What is at stake if project teams can just walk away from the project when it is labelled complete? A lot - project credibility, realisation of the benefits, customer and stakeholder indifference to the changes and a perception that the project team is backing away from their creation.
It can create complacency and carelessness towards the final stages of the project – why care when you are permitted to walk away.
Some tips ...
- build in a post-project warranty, as part of formalising the level of support to be provided post-project if certain conditions arise.
- conclude project completion reviews before the project is allowed to close down to ensure everything is really done.
- from the start, focus the team on life post-project - how will their output be sustained, managed, owned?
- shift project-success evaluations beyond the life of the project “time, cost, quality”, to also include life post project e.g. sustainability of the desired changes, benefits realised, stakeholder commitment and competence.
In a nutshell … make sure someone is accountable in the business for ongoing issues, maintenance and improvements, with the project team acknowledging that they cannot walk away and are expected to care and be supportive to those trying to live with the project output and secure the promised returns.