accepted stamp

The Importance of a WordPress Project Acceptance Management Plan

On any web development project, WordPress or not, delivering a result that the client accepts is not always easy.  

Too often, the developers sequester themselves while they work on the project and then emerge with what they think is the perfect solution, only to have the client reject it.  Sometimes this is the result of human nature (natural resistance to anything new or modified) and such resistance can significantly impede project progress.

However, if you follow some simple guidelines, you can ensure that in your WordPress Project Acceptance Management Plan is clear and reduce the chance for surprises for you or for the client.

1. Explain Acceptance Management in the Proposal

You should include in the proposal the rules that will govern acceptance during the project.  This is necessary to quell the possible assumption you will deliver the desired result at the end of the project and that they will simply begin using it. By establishing the rules before the project begins, you are establishing that there will actually be a formal process of acceptance.

In the proposal, you are explaining to the client only HOW acceptance will be managed. The details for specific deliverable and project acceptance will be detailed in your Statement of Work (or detailed requirements) after the project has been approved. I have included a sample Acceptance Management proposal section at the end of this article.

Cartoon showing how acceptance can be defined differently by different people

Mutual understanding of the final product should be established at the start of the project

2. Use a Gradual Acceptance Process

It is important that the client understand that acceptance is a gradual process occurring throughout the project rather than as a onetime event at the end.  Final acceptance is tied directly to the acceptance of each short-term deliverable being approved throughout the project.  This does not mean that once a deliverable is accepted, it cannot change.  Change will continue to occur throughout the project but a formal acceptance procedure will help to prevent unnecessary change.

If you use a gradual process of acceptance as components are completed, final acceptance becomes much less threatening to the client and the development team.  As gradual acceptance occurs, the client gains vested ownership of the results and the developers get the satisfaction of regular accomplishments.

3. Make it Clear that Deliverables are Website Components

website componentsYour Acceptance Management Plan must make clear that deliverables completed throughout the project are real components of the overall system and not prototypes.  Unless a formal change is approved later, the customer is approving a deliverable for use in its final form when they accept it.


4. Define Acceptance Criteria

The most important rule for your Acceptance Management Plan is that you establish – at the project outset – the specific criteria by which something will be accepted or rejected.  This is most often included in the more detailed requirements or Statement of Work.

These acceptance criteria are the guidelines for the developers to design the correct functions and for the client to determine whether the final result is what they asked for. It is crucial that you and your client agree on these criteria, for each deliverable, before starting the build phase of the project.

Here is an example of some acceptance criteria that might be used for the ecommerce portion of a WordPress project.

  • The WooCommerce plugin will be installed and configured.
  • The online store will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 products.
  • The online store will be able to accommodate purchases of both physical and digital products.
  • The online store will have built-in payment processing via Stripe and PayPal.
  • Customers can visit the site, view items that are for sale, select items to purchase, and check out items using Stripe or Pay Pal.
  • The system will automatically and accurately compute sales tax and shipping fees.

Of course, acceptance criteria will vary significantly depending on the details of the project and the specific deliverable. In some cases, the criteria are focused on technical issues and in others, the criteria may be more focused on meeting certain business requirements.

The acceptance criteria also serves as the basis for rejection when it occurs.  “This is wrong!” is inadequate rejection. A good Acceptance Management Plan requires the client to describe (as best they can) everything that makes the deliverable “wrong.” This is rejection with cause. If the reasons for rejection do not correspond to the established acceptance criteria, you will likely need to redefine those criteria.

The Acceptance Procedure

The essential elements of any acceptance procedure are:

1.    Identify with the customer key deliverables and milestones on which acceptance will depend.

2.    Identify an individual or individuals from the customer organization who have the authority and ability to accept or reject with cause.

3.    Establish a turnaround time for acceptance or rejection with cause.

4.    Prepare a written acceptance/rejection form.

Here is a sample Acceptance Management Plan section of a WordPress Project proposal that you can use and modify for your agency and specific client.

Acceptance Management

The term “acceptance‟ for the purposes of this project is defined as gaining agreement from {client name} that the deliverables produced by {your agency name} meet the agreed-upon criteria as defined in the Statement of Work.

Individual deliverables and their related acceptance criteria, along with final project acceptance criteria, will be defined in the Statement of Work.

We will use a formal process for acceptance ensuring that all approvals are submitted in writing and signed by the agreed-upon client representative. Small, incremental approvals will be garnered for individual components or deliverables, thereby minimizing the work necessary for final website approval.

If a deliverable or other component that has already been accepted requires change, the documented Change Control Procedure will be invoked.

Generally, acceptance will be managed as follows:

  1. {Your agency project manager name} will present {client name} with a written Approval Request that includes the component that is being submitted for acceptance, the acceptance criteria, and the date by which approval is requested (usually 3-5 days).
  2. {Client name} will review the component or deliverable and compare it against the agreed-upon acceptance criteria.

a. If accepted, {client name} will sign the form and return it to {your agency’s project manager name} within the agreed-upon timeframe. {Your agency project manager name} will store the completed form in the Project Notebook.

b. If rejected, {client name} will indicate on the form, the criteria that were not met, mark the form as rejected, and return it to {your agency project manager name}. {Your agency project manager name} will submit a copy of the rejected form to the applicable team member for re-work. If necessary, {your agency project manager name} will invoke the Change Control process.

Want to learn more? Need more examples of acceptance and change management plans? Would you like to learn how to apply certain principles to ensure your WordPress projects are completed on time and within budget? Good News! We will be launching a comprehensive online course called The WordPress Project Manager’s Roadmap later this Fall. Be sure to sign up NOW below to connect with us and you will be eligible for early student discounts. We will keep you posted on our progress.