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June 28, 2008

Project Exit Strategies

When the project runs for several months or over a year ending it can often be a tricky situation. You have grown used to each other, they (the clients) are often quite accustumed to having you around to help out, and there are all sorts of issues relating to uncertainty for the project resources.

Clients sometimes find it difficult to understand that any further services that you provide will need to be paid for in some fashion, particularly when your client contacts are low or mid level.

This is particularly the case when the project has been over twelve months and of significant invoice value.

The best way to end a project is by transferring onto another one with the same client, especially if there are profitable engagements to be had, and if you are able to add tangible value to the client. (Building the ever important referrals stream, second only to the cash stream)

Great idea... getting there is whole other issue however.

Some ideas...
  • Prove value. Early, often and large where possible. Make sure that all the value from the project is marketed as early as possible, and continue doing so throughout the life of the project.
  • Where possible get members of the client organization to prove value using your technology, software, methods, tactics (whatever)
  • Use your relationship with the client to be considered for other work in the pipeline
  • Use you influence within the company to generate additional opportunities
  • Try to release resources early, where ever possible, to start delivering new and growing areas of opportunity.
But, if that is not going to happen (and it almost always should happen, even if only for a small or group of smaller projects) then you need to have an exit strategy to make sure that everyone is happy and the project ends on a positive note.

These two elements should form the basis of that:

Make sure that the extent of the project is well understood. Both what will be included and what will not be included.

Don't skimp on post implementation support. Floor walkers, mentoring, auditing, certification, periodic reviews and a range of other elements. All aimed to make sure that the client can stand on their own, and that the project will be a success.

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