Whether you are leaving your role to go on to something else, or just off on holiday for a few weeks, there are a few things you’ll need to do to ensure a smooth and effective handover takes place. The more effort you put into guiding your colleague on the way things are done, the more chance your project has to flourish in their hands. Here are four things every project manager should be doing as part of the handover process to ensure a smooth transition.
- Quality NOT quantityDon’t give your colleague a 50 page document all about the project and the plans. They won’t read it all, and if they do then their take up of your processes will be very slow. Don’t forget that they need to pick up in a couple of days all the things it has taken you a few months to grasp.
If you want to give them written material, do it in the form of flowcharts or ‘next step’ documents. Make a cheat sheet to help them find the right process document quickly, and make sure everything is 100% accurate and up to date before you pass it on.
- Tell them the parts that aren’t written down
There are some parts of your job that you either shouldn’t or wouldn’t bother to document. For instance, you know that when Richard sends an email you need to spell check it first, because his content is great but his grammar is terrible. You know that you need to buffer between the client and your designer, because the client can be rather sharp with their criticism.
- Passing over your brain is not an easy task, but without your input these pieces of information will remain lost forever. Make a bullet point list of the things you have on your radar and give them a fighting chance of being ‘you’ effectively.
Handing over the project will always come with questions, so make sure you are around to answer those questions. Keep in touch with your colleague, and even after you have left the project it is a good idea to be available to answer queries for a week or two in case anything goes wrong.
- Manage expectations
In any transition of management, there is always the risk that the leaving manager will think the new manager is handling it, and the other will think vice versa. This will result in some things not getting done at all. This means on every email, every memo and every telephone call, you are making it clear if you are handling it of if you expect them to do it.
Managing the expectations of the project team is important too. They may talk to both of you, or even just you so it is crucial you make sure they know to involve your replacement too. To ensure project success, and that your replacement has the appropriate project management skills it is essential to make it clear what tasks you are doing and the tasks you are expecting the new project manager to do.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.
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