This article describes the Formal Acceptance Document. This is just one example - I have other templates to provide at a later date - but I will go into some of the specifics concerning the document and provide some template text for the document itself. This is primarily for acceptance of a deployed system or project, but could also be modified to provide signoff for a specific deliverable document during the project such as a test plan or business requirements document.
Formal Project Acceptance Letter
The formal acceptance document captures the concurrence of the customer, sponsor, and other stakeholders that the project has been completed and meets its objectives. The most common form of formal acceptance document is the customer acceptance document, acknowledging that the project has been developed as the customer originally requested.
Formal acceptance is used as the legal acknowledgment that the project deliverables have been delivered as intended. It is used to certify the project as complete and to release the project organization from any future obligations. Because of the important and heavily contractual nature of the document, it is normally developed early in the project and reviewed with the customer. It is then preserved and used during the phase or project closeout processes.
A formal acceptance document may be presented as a form or a letter. It will provide detail on the date of origin of the project, the project name, and the degree (if not total) of acceptance. In that the document requires a customer signature and is normally initiated by the project organization, it must be designed to ultimately cycle back to the project organization after being signed. It may reflect any interim or milestone acceptance documents that have been exchanged, but should serve as the ultimate determinant that the customer accepts the deliverables as generated.
This letter is to certify that all deliverables under project [name/number] have been delivered in accordance with the contract/agreement dated [date]. Interim approvals for these deliverables were accepted and signed on [dates]. This serves as affirmation that the latest and final deliverables under the project agreement have been conveyed, and we seek your concurrence.
If there are any outstanding issues or concerns that have not been addressed please alert [name] of our organization as soon as possible. We have appreciated serving you in this effort and look forward to our ongoing relationship. Please sign two copies of this letter, keeping one for your records and returning the other to us via the enclosed self-addressed, stamped envelope.
X______________________ (Signature of Customer)
Note that the customer acceptance letter does not go into a great deal of detail about the nature of the relationship, the type of work that was being performed, the level of effort, or the specifics of the project. In a formal acceptance document, the key is to reference a primary documentation source (like the contract) and to garner the customer signature. Some customers may perceive any supplements to the formal acceptance document as contractual addenda or as their approval or acceptance of certain behaviors or performance aspects that were not specified within the contract or project agreement.
As to the choice of a letter or form for formal acceptance, the letter creates more of a sense of professional warmth, whereas forms may be perceived as cold or pragmatic. Both serve the same function, but the nature of the relationship or corporate protocols may drive the use of one versus the other.
Because the formal acceptance document requires a commitment on the part of the customer, and because that commitment releases the project organization from further obligations (except for those outlined in the contract), some customers may use the issuance of the formal acceptance document as an opportunity to extract last-minute concessions from the project organization. It is important to note that the acceptance document reflects the project as contracted, and although organizations may choose to accede to the customer’s late requests, any major shifts in project approach or delivery may need to be acknowledged as either contract addenda or within the body of the formal acceptance document.