The Contract Deliverable - your signature

A contract deliverable is part of what you have committed to deliver to your customer. It should be in a format that your customer prefers, and something that has your signature on it.

I always used to tell my guys: "Never sign anything you aren't proud of, and sign everything that you create." This was my hint to them that deliverables are always something you're proud of.

Anything the customer might see as a final product should always be your best effort - no exceptions.

Here is a story about a contract deliverable that made me glad that I followed this approach.

My Assignment

I was performing an audit for a customer quality assurance department many years ago. They wanted an outside expert to look at one of their programs, and I landed the job. I don't normally perform audits, because I had done enough of that in a past life on another planet, but I was working the jobs that I could scare up, and this one was an audit.

During my audit, I noted lots of problems, and I did my best to take good notes and double check all my findings. I presented my finding in an objective and detailed manner so my report was credible and bullet-proof.

Since my findings were critical of the department that I had audited, I made certain that at least one example of each deficiency was noted. Many times I included multiple examples. This gave my report foundation, and it allowed it to stand on its own.

When I submitted my "draft" report to the quality assurance department, they gave me great praise for doing such a nice job. They also noted only a couple of minor changes. I resubmitted the report in final format, and my customer was satisfied.

My contract deliverable was delivered.

The Acid Test

Since the customer was going through some management changes, the new Vice President of operations was making certain each department was doing a good job. He asked the quality assurance department for their latest report.

It just so happened that my contract deliverable was the latest report in their files, so he got a copy of what I had put together. Knowing that I had done a thorough job, I wasn't the least bit concerned, but prepared myself for questions anyway.

As it turned out, the Vice President thought the report was so good that he insisted that all future reports from the quality assurance department be modeled after the one that I had prepared.

The Outcome

What was once a happy customer had turned into a somewhat annoyed customer because my report had raised "the bar" a few notches higher, and the quality assurance department was now expected to emulate the quality of my report.

I was glad that I had followed my own standard for a contract deliverable. I figured if it met with approval from the Vice President, there wasn't much room for improvement.

The lesson for me, and you, is you never know who is going to review your contract deliverable. It might wind up in the hands of senior management, it might wind up in the trash, it might be displayed in public, it might be used in a court case, or it might be reviewed by your next customer.

So, give it your all, and you won't have anything to worry about. That's a small business idea that you can put to use to help build your reputation for quality and meeting contract obligations.

Done with Contract Deliverable, take me back to Small Business Advice

The only business you'll really ever be part of is your own.

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