Transferring projects from one team to another is often seen as a mammoth task. It requires a complete transfer of roles and responsibilities. However, following set protocols, having strong communication and reciprocated motivation makes this whole process a lot smoother.
What Is a Handover?
A handover is a process of transferring the roles and responsibilities of a project from one team/individual to another. Typically, this transfer takes place over the duration of a couple of months, in order to ensure that the receiving team/individual has fully grasped the working of the project, and their roles corresponding to the same.
What Is Handover Documentation?
Handover documentation refers to the resources, notes and documents compiled or passed-on by staff members/teams who are about to leave thier current position (either temporarily or permanently). They are 'handed over' to the team/individual that will be succeeding them, in order to help them carry out their newly acquired duties with ease.
A typical handover spans across a couple of months, where the team/individual from the current team is in close communication with the individual/team onboarding onto the project. Having a knowledge transfer stratergy in place is one of the most effective ways of carrying out this transition.
In a broad sense, the handover procedure involves the following steps:
- Identify the team/individual that will be on-boarding onto the project
- Sync up schedules and timings with the said team/individual in order to find slots that work for both teams
- Set-up a recurring meeting in the identified slots
- Have a clear stratergy on the key aspects of the projects that you aim to cover
- Always leave room for questions, follow-ups and doubts!
Why You Might Want a Good Handover
It is essential to conduct the handover correctly to ensure that the ongoing functionalities of the product continue to work seemlessly, as well as any further developments to it can be done without any major hiccups.
The transfer of the roles and responsibilities should go unnoticed to the end-users when they are interacting with the product, in such a way that the product is abstracted from its immediate product developers.
The better the handover, the easier it is for the succeeding team or individual to understand the project. This in turn, will affect their performance when it comes to developing and providing support for that project.
Problems a Good Handover Helps to Solve
A detailed, thorough handover will ensure the following:
- Smooth transition of responsibilities, with minimum business impact
- Scope for resolution of any doubts or queries posed by the receiving team
- Keeping both the initiating team as well as the receiving team on the same page, thus highlighting any gaps or areas of concern and their corresponding workarounds, that the receiving team should be mindful about while working on the project
How To Implement The Handover?
The key to implementing a successful handover is to have a strong handover stratergy in place prior to the event of the handover, such that it allows for maximum transfer of information in a smooth and systematic way.
Before initiating the handover process, the current team managing the project must have a clear vision about the end goal of this transition. That is, it is in the best interests of both teams to identify the key outcomes of this process.
For example: At the end of the subsequent handover, the team/individual should be hands-on with the project. They should be able to work on XYZ functionalities, answer any questions raised by the stakeholders and know the finer workings of the project from both a technical as well as business standpoint.
A typical handover stratergy would cover the following aspects:
- The delivery method/channel for the knowledge transfer
- Identified SPOCs from the current team as well as from the onboarding team that will be participating
- How often the communication will occur? (Daily, Weekly, etc.)
Starting Early: Initiating the process of handing over a project earlier gives both the receiving team and the initiating team ample time to cross-communicate and resolve any doubts or misunderstandings about the project. It gives the initiating team time to gain confidance that the project is in good hands, and the receiving team enough time to know the project through and through.
Involving The Operations Team: Involving a SPOC from the support team enables the building of relationships between the new individual/team and the operations team, who is usually responsible for the deployment of the project. This also enables a two-way communication, allowing the successors of the project to know about any added requirements/protocols from the support side as well.
Update All Relevant Documentation Frequently: This is a predecessor to the handover project, and is the responsibility of the current team managing the project. Keeping project documentation updated not only reaffirms the understanding of the project on behalf of the current team, but also makes it easier for the next team to quickly adapt to the project.
Multi-faceted Knowledge Transfer Process: Knowledge transfer during handover can take place across multiple channels. While face-to-face communication such as over a meeting online or in real-life is the most common, channels such as video guides, resource lists, workarounds and the sharing of previous obstacles and their corresponding solutions aid the process multifold.
Common Pitfalls of Any Handover
There are a number of reasons why a handover may be poorly delivered. Such as:
Time Constraints: Time constraints such as shorter durations than required for a complete transfer of knowledge, results in a lot of information being delivered in a short span of time. This in turn may lead to loss of crucial information during the process.
Lack of Written Documentation: A handover procedure solely conducted via a verbal channel is not as effective as one complemented with written documentation and other such resources for referrence, often leading to a loss of information during the process.
A poorly conducted handover may have the following ill-effects in the long run:
Underperformance: The succeeding team may underperform due to lack of crucial information that was missed out on during the course of the handover.
Unnecessary Resource And Time-Consumption: Due to lack of documentation or information provided during the handover, the current team or individual handling the project may often find themselves at a point where they are lost or do not know how to proceed. To figure a workaround, they may end up spending hours to research and find a solution. This time and resource effort could have been saved, if the handover was given in a proper manner.