3. Schedule and conduct lessons learned.
I'm a fan of conducting one or more lessons learned sessions before the actual point of deployment, because it’s hard to pull everyone together after the solution has been turned over to the customer support staff. But if you've not held a session yet, make sure that you actually have one scheduled and participants committed to meeting on both sides. It’s a very important activity and one that many project managers skip. Even if it just ends up being a one-hour conference call, the things that both sides learn can turn out to be of tremendous value later on.
4. Make sure user acceptance test is signed off.
Was user acceptance testing (UAT) successful? Were there outstanding issues that needed to be resolved and if so, were they actually resolved? Make sure that you have a formal UAT signoff in hand; a project that does not have a formal testing acceptance from the project client should not be headed for deployment.
5. Ensure that the right people are trained and ready.
On most technical implementations, there is at least some level of customer training that needs to happen. Whether that’s formal training or informal, adhoc training depends on the project and the solution, of course. Either way, it should be part of the project schedule with appropriate training tasks built into the schedule and tracked. Review the schedule to ensure that all training tasks are complete. A lack of proper customer training in which a customer hasn’t been properly trained on the solution can lead to a customer who is dissatisfied with the end solution that they don’t know how to use.
6. Get formal project signoff.
Finally, don’t skip the process of getting a formal, final signoff from the project sponsor as well as acceptance of the overall project. That signoff should be a ceremonial type signoff at the time of deployment; don’t complete this final phase without it.
The project manager and team can easily lose focus as the project is coming to a close. The same can be true for the project sponsor and team. What should be the most exciting phase can become someone anticlimactic on a long-term project. By running through this six-item “checklist,” the project manager and team can ensure that the project is truly done and ready for rollout, and not worry that a key element remains outstanding.