Steps to Successfully Complete a Project Handoff
Projects range in size and scope from short, 30-day projects to decade-long projects. Since some projects have lengthy durations, project managers may need to hand off a project to a successor.
Unfortunately, a successful project handoff requires more than turning over the keys and login information to the new project manager. A project manager should follow these six steps to successfully completing a project handoff.
1. Set Goals of the Project Handoff
The outgoing and incoming project managers should hold a meeting and set goals for what needs to be accomplished during the transition. This allows both parties to review and re-assess where the project status is in relation to the project’s baselines, time frame, and budget. Furthermore, members of the project management team should be involved in this meeting.
2. Keep the Client in the Loop
Members of the project management team, workers, and the client need to understand how the existing project manager will hand off the project to the successor. In some cases, the project manager may need to explain why the transition is occurring and what may change.
3. Have Short, Daily Meetings
During the overlap between the existing project manager and the new project manager, all members of the project management team should meet with the project managers to review the status of responsibilities, tasks, and activities.
4. Demonstrate the Usefulness and Benefit of the Project to the Incoming Manager
If a given project revolves around the development or use of resources or products, the existing project manager should demonstrate the project's benefit to society. When specific products are involved, the existing project manager must help the new project manager understand how the product or service works.
5. Meet With Stakeholders
Similar to meeting and speaking with the client, the existing project manager and new project manager should meet with the stakeholders in a project during the transition. This will allow stakeholders to ask questions and review concerns of the transition.
6. Be Willing to Ask For Assistance
Sometimes, the incoming project manager may be unsure about aspects of the project. For example, the incoming project manager may not understand an organization's change management processes. When this happens, the incoming project manager must be willing to ask for assistance from the existing project manager, the project management team, and upper-level management. This allows both project managers to work together in meeting the goals of the project handoff.
A project handoff from an existing project manager to a new project manager is often seen as difficult. However, project managers can work to make the process smoother by following these steps to successful project handoffs.
- Create a plan, and set goals for the project handoff.
- Keep members of the project management team and the client in the loop of processes and activities during the transition.
- Hold short, daily meetings to review the status of the transition.
- Meet with stakeholders, and spend time together outside of work to build rapport between the incoming project manager and those who are already involved in the project.
- Ask for help when unsure about how to proceed with a given responsibility, task, or activity, which is applicable to both parties.