The project handover is the process of transferring the responsibility of a project to a client (or their operations manager) after its completion, or to another project manager for further development. While scopes of work may require different levels of documentation and detail in the handover, paying the same attention to detail at this phase as you have throughout the project itself is a sign of professionalism. And it can be a relationship builder between you and the client that can pay off in future engagements.
Why Is a Smooth Handover Important?
Done right, a good project handover ensures clients receive the source code and assets for the project, and they’re given enough training and information to extract maximum benefits from the product. Doing this allows clients to see the value of your work and keep you in mind for referrals or future projects.
In a situation where you’re handing your project over to a new team, a clean project turnover will help you move forward with ease, without the new team or client bugging you with questions.
Preparing for the Handover
While many view project turnovers as a milestone, it’s best to look at it as a small project in itself. First, identify who needs to be involved.
Look into the pieces of information you need to share, and determine who among your team members is best to share it. Especially if you’re handing your project over to a new team, diving into technical development details might be important.
Next, make your timeline, communication plan, deadlines, and topics, and present them to the involved parties, so you can get their signoff. This will give them an idea of what to expect, so they can prepare if they need to.
You can brief your stakeholders by allowing them to experience the product or the process or through several training sessions.
Project Handover Checklist
To finally conclude your closure stage, here is what you need to prepare for a project turnover.
Fully tested deliverables
If you’re finally turning a project over to a client, ensure all of the deliverables you committed to are fully tested and functional. Along with these, recall the success metrics you established at the beginning of the project and share your evaluation of how well your deliverables measure up against them.
Codebase access, accounts, and credentials
For apps and software projects, your codebase would be a crucial deliverable to prepare. To turn this over to your clients, you can use tools like GitHub. If you use third-party software, you will also need to turn those applications over to your client, along with the credentials and accounts that will allow them to use them moving forward.
Documentation that indicates the features a final deliverable contains will formalize that you achieved the key features you committed to submitting. Share this along with the final deliverable for reference. It’s also useful to include the design vision and technologies used to connect the product to its intended purpose.
An operation manual will indicate use cases, and processes end users will benefit from. This can be tedious to prepare, so it’s a good idea to start this as soon as possible. Visualization is a good way to start when making an operations manual. Don’t be afraid to use flowcharts, diagrams, and process maps as you deem necessary to make the information more digestible.
Maintenance procedure and logs
Now that the project is someone else’s responsibility, you’ll need to make sure they have the information they need to keep it performing at its best. Share maintenance procedures and the frequency at which it’s recommended to be done.
In the case that there’s still some work to be done for the project to fully finish, you’ll need to prepare a snagging list. Sometimes referred to as a punch list, this is a list of outstanding issues and follow-up tasks that you left off. This way, the new project team can plan around how to go about them, and nothing will be missed.
Benefits realization plan
The benefits realization plan will provide guidance to clients or consumers that will allow them to maximize the results of the project. Depending on what the project is, the realization plan should cover the project’s most important features, relevant use cases, and process instructions.
For example, if you’re turning over an SEO optimization app for articles, training and modules that educate your client and end users on how search engines select top results can be useful. Complement this with the product’s features and information on how to use them, and you can be sure the new users of your product will be able to maximize its benefits.
Version control and configuration management records
Detailed changelogs, version control, and configuration management records can help clients and new project teams backtrack in case there are issues or if there are plans to continue development. Good version control ensures stakeholders have access to the latest version of the project.
Client details (for new PM)
If you’re handing your project over to a new project manager, it will be useful to include your client’s preferences, so they don’t have to start from scratch. Share communication plans and report templates, along with information on relevant stakeholders. Talk about point persons they can reach out to for specific situations.
Providing these pieces of information to the new project manager will help ensure your client will receive a great experience despite the changes.
Project signoff document
The project signoff document will record the successful completion of the handover process. This will include a list of items you turned over and an area where the client or the new project manager can sign to indicate they accept all of them.
For speed and efficiency, look into Smartsheet’s free templates you can use and modify for your purposes.
Enabling Successful Project Handover
To facilitate a successful project handover, take the time to prepare by identifying relevant stakeholders and creating timelines to ensure it goes smoothly.
When clients and new project teams take responsibility for a project, a good project handover helps ensure benefits continue to be maximized and the product can be properly maintained or further developed moving forward.