Projects get transferred from one person or group to another in business every day. Whether the current project manager decides to quit or the project is moved to another department, this is very common in organizations today. Still, that doesn’t make it simple or fast. Transferring important projects is a tricky business, especially if there are many rules and processes in place to keep the work running smoothly.
In many cases, the project handover can make or break the project's success - and affect that of the organization. If this is not streamlined and done successfully, the new project manager won’t be able to do their job successfully. Research shows that organizations waste 12% of valuable resources due to poor project management.
One great advantage comes with project handoff - the person handing the project over has actual experience in managing that specific project. If they can transfer the tested and tried practices that work, this can boost the new team's success and save more money.
Companies that use tested and tried management practices spend 28 times less money than those who jump into this blindly and do it from scratch.
If you are dealing with a project handover, this is something to take very seriously. In this post, we’ll share a strategy that will help you streamline the process, as well as some useful tips for project managers.
What Is Project Handover?
Project handover or project takeover is any project transfer from one individual, team, or department to another. The project can be at any stage. The company might transfer completed tasks to the deliverable owner in another department. Or, the project can move from one manager to another due to changes in work conditions, poor performance, or if the former decides to quit their job.
Simply put, the project handover is when one project manager shares information and takes action to transfer the project to another. It’s a how-to guide for what needs to be done for the project to continue and be completed, written by people who have first-hand experience in the matter.
Project Handovers and Resignations
In most cases, projects are handed over to other managers because the current employee is leaving their role. This can be permanent or temporary. Regardless, it is the obligation and task of the employee to transfer their knowledge and information to the new person responsible for managing the project.
Many project managers are overburdened these days. They leave work in search of better conditions or higher salaries. When this happens, the project manager must go through several steps. The first is to write a resignation letter, a tricky process where Rezi’s guide to resignation letters - and their quality templates can help a lot.
Next, the project manager is required to keep working as long as their contract requires and transfer all projects and responsibilities to the person who will handle their tasks once they leave the company.
The job of the manager is to use all the experience and data they have to create a document for the new employee, schedule meetings, talk to clients, and take care of this before they leave.
If the project handover goes badly, the consequences can include:
- Communication issues, missed deadlines, missed deliverables
- Stressed team
- Ruined business relationships
- Lost clients
- Unnecessary expenses
6 Tips for Successful Project Handover
Most project handovers take time. To avoid potential problems, companies need to tread carefully and take their time to transfer the project successfully. Even when there’s a tight deadline because the current manager leaves unexpectedly, it’s important to focus on the details so they don’t slip through the cracks.
Some of the pitfalls that can occur are:
If the project is transferred successfully and the new team and manager are well prepared to continue with the task at hand, all these pitfalls can be avoided.
With all this said, it’s time to dig into the tips for successful project handover.
Step 1: Formulate a Project Handover Plan
Every successful project starts with a plan, and a handover is no exception. Ideally, you should have a formal document, one that lays out the entire handover process. This document should list at least the following information:
- The scope of the project. Share the number of deliverables expected to be delivered in a week/month/year, etc. Explain what the client expects from the project.
- The project's current progress, as well as information on what has been done until this point. Talk about the things that are completed by this point and what’s pending.
- Issues that need to be tackled. This is the part where you talk about how many people the project needs, about any delayed parts of it, and about issues such as lack of technology, etc.
- The budget that the new project manager will have for this project.
- The equipment. Share details about the available equipment and equipment that is required to complete the project but is not yet available.
- Share details about the point of contact.
- The roles of people responsible for the project completion. Assign tasks and responsibilities to different people included in the project.
- Deliverable milestones and deadlines.
Step 2: Schedule the Necessary Project Handover Meetings
At this point, you should have a ready handoff document, and it is time to organize the project handover meetings to discuss the handover. This is the point where the project managers and teams meet up to discuss the plan and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
At this point, it is important to stay flexible. It’s the part where there will be questions and, possibly, some changes in the project handout document.
If the project is transferred to a team that’s not local or not all participants can join in physically, the option to schedule online meetings is always a good idea.
Pay attention to the word ‘meetings’. This means that not only do the two managers meet - the former and the new manager, but there are also meetings with the new and old team, clients, etc.
Step 3: The Project Handout Begins
Project handouts are gradual and take time. If you are dealing with a big project, it’s best to break it up into smaller milestones to give people time to adjust and adapt to the change. This gives everyone time to see what needs to be done, ask questions, and go through any bottlenecks that come along the way.
If this is an option, you should ask your team members to shadow the new team to help them transition. The new team can also listen in on calls or be part of email threads to see how the project management process goes and what’s being done.
This process can be made much easier with the help of technology. Project handouts are one of the processes streamlined by project management tools like Active Collab. Such software can help the transition tremendously and ensure that every part of the project is done on time.
A project management tool will facilitate the planning, monitoring, and execution of the project across different levels of the organization. Since all the information will be located in one place, it offers a great deal of transparency. It helps project managers do the following:
Tips for Project Managers
Successful project handovers can take anything from a few weeks to a few months. The process is demanding, exhausting, and stressful. But it goes a long way in making future work productive and successful.
Here are some additional tips that all project managers should know to make this process easier:
1. Encourage Your Team To Use Project Management Software
Project management software comes with many benefits and can help your team collaborate better - as well as adjust to this big change. Encourage everyone involved in the process to use a tool like Active Collab to streamline the processes of the project.
2. Make a Checklist With Details
The handout document is one thing. Make a checklist for yourself and your team, too. This will help you stay informed on what’s already transferred and what remains to be transferred. In the checklist, include the following:
- Due dates
- Sales records
- Budget being used and planned
- Equipment used and available
This is your reminder. It’s very important in a big, lengthy project handout since forgetting something can cause you many headaches later on.
3. Keep the Clients Informed
It’s not just the project manager or new team that should know about this change - it’s the client, too. Keep them in the loop. While you won’t share the handout details with them, your clients should know who’s running the show now, who they can call and how, and why this change happens.
It is your responsibility to assure the client that the project is in good hands.
4. Meet With the Stakeholders
The stakeholders should be informed of this change, too. They can raise their doubts and ask their questions - and it is you who needs to answer them. Schedule meetings with the project stakeholders and the new project manager if possible.
5. Be the One To Introduce the New Manager to the Team
Your team is up for a big change in management, so the best person to introduce the new manager is you. Give them space to talk to them, but introduce him first. Tell the team who they are getting, what are his/her areas of expertise, etc.
6. Try To Stay Available for Support
Even if you have a detailed document and a streamlined process, some questions can still arise. Make sure you are available for contact for at least a while after the project is handed over.
Why Good Project Handover Matters (And Common Challenges)
Project handovers (or takeovers) affect the success and completion of the project. This is a crucial step because a poorly transferred project results in mistakes, delays, lost customers, and big and unnecessary expenses.
A project not successfully handed over to the new manager will likely miss its deadlines. If the manager is unaware of what needs to be done or how it should be done, it will take them longer to learn how to manage the project. This will cause many mistakes and costs that could have been avoided simply by streamlining the handoff process.
Hopefully, the guide and tips we listed here will help you streamline the transfer and make everything available to the incoming project manager.
Nadica Metuleva is a senior content writer with expertise in crafting blog posts, listicles, articles, and case studies. She has spent over 8 years as a freelance writer, following her passion for storytelling and research. She has a Master's Degree in English Literature and Teaching and speaks 4 languages. You can find her on LinkedIn.