There are times we come into a project which is already running. Maybe the former project manager left the company or maybe she was assigned another topic. Whatever the reason, there are really bad handovers where we only get the name of the project and a person who might know something. Or we have nobody to ask but have to find documentation of the project and the needed information within that. I’ve experienced both and both ways it was really awful.
As I recently experienced a really good handover when taking over for a colleague I thought it would be good to share what I think were/are key success factors for a smooth handover.
1 Be prepared
We should first of all make a list of what is to be handed over: tasks, documentation, key information, risks and so on. I personally think that a handover of any normal or more complex project can only be successful when we are prepared to handover everything that is needed.
2 Have everything up-to-date
As a second factor we should have all governance, risks, documentation and the like up-to-date right before the handover. It’s embarrassing to say “Oh, here’s the project charter but it needs to be updated as it is 7 months old” and stuff like that.
3 Introduce the new PM
Although your successor might already work at the company I think it’s good to show up in team meetings, stakeholder updates and steering committees together and officially introduce the new face to the people who already work on the project. This should then be followed by an email for those who could not attend the latest meetings in person. So everybody is aware and not irritated when suddenly a new PM knocks on the door and asks for something.
4 Be formal when needed
There are things you just need to do officially/formally and there may vary from company to company. Often, at least an email to the Steering Committee and/or the new PM stating the official delegation of all duties and right to person XYZ is needed to fulfil project governance requirements.