How to Transfer a Project In-house
We’ve already discussed tips for taking over a project (in two different scenarios), but you may eventually be asked to hand a project over to someone else. In this case, you have a much bigger responsibility in that you have to both properly orient your successor and ensure a smooth project transition. Because this exchange is happening internally, chances are you’ll still be around to catch some of the flak if the project explodes due to a lousy turnover.
Here are some handy tips to follow to ensure a smooth project transfer:
Determine the Nature of the Transfer
Is this transfer just a change in leadership, or is it swapping out the entire team? Knowing that will determine how you’ll approach the turnover of files and status updates, as well as how your team is going to be involved—whether they’ll just be introduced to the new PM, or if they’ll have to orient their counterparts from the new project team.
Assemble Relevant Info
You’re not going to just dump a binder full of files onto the new project manager’s desk and expect him to sort it out. What you want to do is assemble the most vital and concise information available so that he can get a quick yet accurate idea of where the project is and what needs to be done. Anything more detailed, like logs, actual project work, etc., can either go straight to the relevant team member or into a separate “reference” file.
Hire the New Team
When you’re meeting the new team, pretend that you’re hiring them for your own. This mindset will help you build a helpful transition package and useful orientation session, so that they can quickly get up to speed. Also, tell your team to act as if they were training new recruits, and not replacements.
Once the project has been handed over, don’t wash your hands and cut them off. Make yourself available to the new team if they come up with questions or clarifications they hadn’t thought to ask you before. Likewise, make sure your team does the same, even if the project transfer has left a bad taste in your mouth. Especially if this is the case, actually. Be the bigger man, and leave your pride out of it when you turn the project over.
What it essentially boils down to is this: Do whatever would be most helpful for you if you were the one taking over. It’s a great way of both ensuring the project proceeds smoothly and strengthening your working relationship with the other project manager—because being considerate and professional is a winning combination.
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.