We’ve all heard the saying, “The only constant in life is change.” If Greek philosopher Heraclitus were an executive at a mid-sized startup in Milwaukee today, he might revise his quote to read, “The only constant in business is constant change.”
Project Handoff Strategies That Work
A robust job market in the U.S. means that many workers are able to change jobs quickly. No matter your industry, it’s likely that you have encountered employee turnover. You might find that you spend a great deal of time handing off projects to a new manager or training a new hire, rather than operating from your sweet spot, growing your customer base. Project handoffs happen for a number of reasons. Whether one PM leaves, takes on another client, or is promoted within the company, transitioning the project should happen with minimal effort and time lost.
Master the Drip Learn
No one likes to drink from a fire hose. Many modern firms prefer the “pair on model” of transitioning. Similar to paired programming, an agile software development technique in which two programmers work together at one workstation and switch roles frequently, pairing a veteran PM and a new PM makes for a successful handoff. With this approach, the new PM gains the ability to learn in a controlled environment, while the veteran PM acts as a coach, letting the new PM take the lead on asking questions. Additionally, the veteran PM has an opportunity to answer inquiries, provide context, and walk through solutions. In other words, the new project manager is able to “drip learn” behind the scenes. When the introduction to the content and the customer is more gradual, your new PM feels confident when it’s time to take over the project full time. This confidence translates into a consistent performance that gets noticed by your customer.
Develop Your Company’s Document Brain
Besides pairing, having reliable documentation helps the transition of work occur efficiently. At SPARK, our design services team creates a document called “the brain,” and each PM has one for his or her project. This document serves as a place to keep critical notes and contextual information relevant to the project. Along with "the brain," other essential documents include iteration notes and the product backlog with sketched user stories, contained in the same folder. By keeping good notes, any PM should be able to read through the history for context and understand the work accomplished and yet to be performed. But what happens if your best PM’s notetaking skills are closer to the average high-schooler’s? This is where custom software solutions from SPARK aid in capturing and sorting all relevant information with ease of access, creating transparency that alleviates concerns about losing critical data or valuable customer input. In short, when modern tech solutions can boost the average human process, it’s a win for transferability and transparency.
How can you know where you are going without knowing where you have been? Mid-size firms in many industries can learn from the normalized process of “roadmapping.” At SPARK, our team designs product roadmaps to reference what is next on the list of product features to develop. Usually, this product roadmap is a living, breathing document that changes as priorities shift—allowing our team to pivot when your customer does. Like a fossil that preserves a prehistoric organism and the information in its essential DNA, the roadmap is a valuable artifact with which the new PM may use to have informed conversations about a priority with the customer team.
During a time of transition, this process of establishing priority allows the project manager to have insightful customer discussions to ensure the most valuable work is scheduled next with no lapse in momentum. Not only does the roadmapping tool aid in the successful, smooth transition of a project, but it also allows for posterity. With the ability to look back into past product iterations and notes from prior discussions, teams are able to grasp important contextual information that guides strong future decisions.
Leverage Software for Scalable Transitions
What if your company could access a custom-designed software solution that bridged the gap between the old and the new, connecting your new project team to the work of your former one? Better yet, what if the solution were as simple as an intuitive dashboard for project management that works the way you do, but, well, a little smarter? The secret to success is digitally capturing the right data so your most valuable information doesn’t get stuck in a file on your former employee’s desktop, or worse yet, get lost because it was only documented “in their head”.
Customized software solutions can create a “single source of truth” to connect the dots and recover valuable time. While it may be your team’s duty to ensure documentation is preserved in a way that allows handoffs without glitches or lost information, digital solutions pick up where human error occurs. Your customer should not feel the impact of the change; in fact, with seamless handoffs, the customer can continue to feel confident in the development of the product and the new PM’s familiarity with strategic goals.
While the rapid pace of change in today’s workplace brings significant challenges, it also affords specific opportunities to punch up your processes, allowing you to level up with larger firms by transitioning projects smartly. With the ability to customize project software to accommodate handoffs, SPARK offers businesses the chance to ensure that the process of transitioning projects is as seamless as it is painless.