You may have already experienced it, but there will come a point at some point in your project management career where you will need to hand over a project to someone else.
There are many different reasons for this including:
- Your workload is looking too heavy and senior figures have decided to pass it over to someone else
- The project would be aligned better with another Project Managers skills
- The client has made the decision that they would like someone else to manage the project.
Imagine you’re about to replace a Project Manager for an ongoing project or even starting in a new organisation. What are the questions you will be asking or the information you will need in order to carry out the job the correct way? If you weren’t briefed by the former Project Manager, I’m sure you wouldn’t feel as confident to take on the role.
It’s important that you give the new Project Manager all the information you can to ensure they can carry out their job properly. In this article, we will look at the best way to hand over a project.
Make sure a ‘Project Handover’ is part of your methodology
You will usually find that in most organisations they will already have a project handover process as a part of their project methodology. There are a lot of key steps involved and these all need to be documented to make sure nothing gets missed.
You may not want to openly admit it but if you know you won’t be working on the project any more, your enthusiasm for the job will probably disappear. Having a method in place for you to follow will ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
Have a meeting with your team
The first step in handing over a project to another Project Manager is to organise a project kickoff meeting with all team members. This is a meeting designed to go through project status updates and task status updates so you can pass all of the information over to your replacement.
If you have a good routine of weekly project meetings in place, this should be fairly straight forward. If you don’t, then perhaps it’s something you should incorporate into your project week. It could save you a lot of time in circumstances like this.
Remember to state the importance of team members being in attendance, bribery in the form of biscuits is good I hear.
Make sure the project is up to date with the most current information
This is mainly focusing on the administration part of the project. But you will need to make sure all if it is done.
- Revise the project schedule.
- Update resources and resource plan
- Budget analysis and forecast is up to date
- Make sure the risk and issue logs reflect any current or previous changes in the project
When looking at items such as the project schedule and resource plan, writing down some notes to accompany it would be great. Outline some of the methods and ways specific things are done.
Involve the new Project Manager in all communication early on
You can actually start to prepare your new Project Manager a few weeks before. If your IT department has set the new PM with an organisational email, copy them into emails with your client or team members.
If an email address hasn’t been created for them, save all of your emails in a folder and send them over when are eventually set up. They may not thank you on the day when they see 245 emails before they’ve even got through the first five minutes, but they will appreciate it in the long run.
Also, try to involve them in a couple of conference calls between your client and team to give them some status updates. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce the new PM to team members.
If they feel comfortable with that setup, you could propose that you take over the first conference call and then ask them to lead the second to reflect the transition.
Make yourself available to them for the initial project handover
I appreciate that in some cases this may not always be possible. Especially if your first thought is to get the heck out of there. However, if you are able to, an overlap between yourself and the new Project Manager is highly recommendable. Not only will your replacement appreciate it, but also your team too.
If you’re still in the same organisation as the new Project Manager, make sure you are available for them via phone or email for at least the first couple of weeks. They may not get in touch with you at, but at least they will have some reassurance that if they do get stuck, they know you’re always at the end of a phone call.
You will be there if there are any questions are asked and will also be able to introduce them to the new team. This is a great way to make those involved in the project feel more at ease in what can be a highly stressful and difficult situation.
Give them the inside scoop on the team
You should prepare something for the new PM documenting team members various skills and activities that they are involved in. It’s also good to have a meeting to discuss the different personalities within the team as well as the overall politics and project culture to make sure they are well prepared. They may also choose to take it upon themselves to judge everyone for themselves and draw to their own conclusion but at least you’ve given them some foundation to work with.
They will need to know everyone involved in the project, contact numbers and email addresses on both your side and the client’s side. You may also want to create a (private) list delving a bit further into personal details such as their communication style, their role and attitude, the frequency of communication. This will help to keep the logistics of the team flowing nicely and not having too much of an impact on it.
Project Handover Checklist
- Project initiation document
- Business case
- Risk and issue logs
- Project schedule
- Resource plans
- All documents involved in initial project plans
- Change requests throughout the project
- Financial reports and processes
- Deliverables of the project have been accepted by both the client or sponsor
- Project status reports have been reviewed with your team and are up to date
- Financial reports and processes complete
- A list of contacts and their job roles
- Staff evaluation and performance reports completed
- Introduce PM to the client
- Introduce PM to team members
- Suggest next steps for the new PM
A project handover can be daunting, for you, your team members, your client and most of all the new Project Manager. You can’t change the situation but you can certainly try to make it easier to ensure there is as little disruption as possible.