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Problem: Project Handover to a Replacement Project Manager is often not Done Properly
I find that, for many projects, the new (replacement) project manager does not know the details of the project properly.
Why? This is often because the project was not handed over to them properly from the previous project manager. They didn’t have a project handover meeting and handover document.
This causes many issues, most significant of which are cost increases, schedule increases and quality issues.
In this regard, I am not talking about project handover at the end of a project (as discussed in this article at the Association for Project Management), but rather during a project.
Solution: Have a Formal Handover Meeting
If a project must be handed over to another project manager (because of resignation or reallocation) make sure to have a formal handover meeting.
The original PM should also prepare a status document (handover document) of the project as it stands now.
This should document the physical aspects of what is happening.
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What to Include in a Project Handover Document:
- Summary of the project so the new PM can see it all in just a few pages (not the whole QA system).
- Original scope and current scope
- List of main scope (dot point format here is much more useful than lots of big paragraphs)
- Schedule as shown in the proposal, baseline schedule and current schedule
- Reasons for the project, need for the project, drivers, justification
- Stakeholders – names, roles, contact details
- Risk register – current and original
- Cost records, including original budget and current budget
- Current costs and variation status
- Contract details
- Variations and details
- Details of any Change management
- List of the main suppliers (and what and when they are supplying)
- Contacts (including contact details of the client, suppliers, contractors or consultants, your internal team)
- Site address (if there are physical works or if it relates to a location)
- Who knows what is happening.
- Summary of all team members and responsibilities.
- Problems, things to watch out for
- Restrictions on access (if there are any)
- Tips, etc.
Make sure it is all in writing, not just a verbal hand over.
Giving this handover document, as well as having a handover meeting with the new project manager will contribute significantly to the continue project success.
You should give the handover document to the new project manager before the meeting, so they have time to review it and prepare questions.
What to include in a project handover meeting:
In the meeting, I believe that you should explain the following (at minimum):
- Project background
- Project goals
- Client expectations
- Current costs and forecast costs (including estimate to complete and estimate at completion)
- Due dates and schedule
- Current status
Allow time for questions and discussion, including any verbal tips you need to say but cannot put in writing (for example, which team members need to be managed more closely, personal problems you know of that may affect the project, and comments about the client).
You should also do an introduction of the new project manager to the client, explaining the reason for the handover and assurance that you have explained all the details.
Of course, if possible, it is much better to keep the same project manager and project team on the project until completion.
One final tip, when staff are being changed in the project, increase the quality review measures to reduce the risk of mistakes.
When handing over a project to a new project manager, make sure you provide a good handover document, showing all the details the new PM needs to know. Also hold a handover meeting to explain the details and provide answers to any questions.