Whether you’re a consultant or an internal project team, finishing well isn’t just about doing the job and walking away to the next engagement. What happens as you leave matters just as much, if not more. We’ve talked about starting well and how to adjust mid-course. This time we’ll cover the most crucial part — finishing well.
Finalize the project with a walkthrough.
Sew everything up with a concise walkthrough of the site at the end of the project. In this way, you’ll…
- confirm the job is completed as expected
- avoid any loose ends onsite
- provide an opportunity for immediate feedback
- continue to establish rapport with the onsite manager.
Clean up after yourself.
How you treat the worksite subtly indicates how you’ll treat everything you do, so you should seek to represent yourself well by establishing and maintaining order. No one likes a mess, so clean up after yourself. Your goal should be to leave the location not just “better than you found it”, but to leave an organized and professional site behind. Put away any items that you used from the site, and organize according to any official site guidelines (so that no one will have to reorganize behind you).
Confirm with questions.
At the end of the walkthrough ask the all-important question: “Are you happy with what’s happening?” and then listen carefully. How the site manager responds to this question can give you the chance to uncover and resolve potential issues immediately.
Look especially for signs of confusion or potential misunderstanding. Use this time to continue to build the client relationship — You should not be trying to get a positive answer just for the sake of it.
Follow up afterward.
Follow up after the completion of the project in a timely manner. What “timely” means can change depending on the relationship and type of engagement, but as a rule of thumb, you want to be the first one to initiate contact after the completion of a project – sooner is better.
If even remotely possible, pick up the phone. I know, phone-phobes, that a follow up is not an emergency situation and an email could get the job done, but a phone conversation will always crush an email thread when it comes to communicating clearly and building relationships. Your goal is to connect on a personal level with the people that you have worked with, not just to check a box.
During the follow-up, provide another opportunity for the client to give feedback. Find out what, if anything, has changed internally since the completion of the project.
- Is everyone still happy with the result?
- Is the post-project work going according to plan?
Immediately resolve whatever issues arise from this follow-up conversation. Escalate if necessary.
Finish or hand-off all of the extras.
The project doesn’t end after the follow-up call. Whether you’re communicating any extra work to the billing team, finalizing data sanitization certificates, or handing off the assets from the project for processing (we use AptoPulse internally), completing these final steps can be the difference between a “good” job and world-class service.
Consider the waiter who does everything right: they make great recommendations, deliver hot food on time, and keep your drinks full, but then, when you try to pay the bill, they take 15 minutes to come back with your card. They were so close to great, but dropped the ball at the last second. Don’t be like that waiter. Push through until the very end and serve your client by cleanly wrapping up all of the details at the end of the project. If you do it well, they’ll notice the difference.