Whether a project is changing hands, or someone new is taking over, a transition is a make-or-break point for a project. If expectations or risks are not communicated effectively, a project can fall victim to scope creep, or miss the original goals entirely. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) Pulse of the Profession Report in 2015, poor communication of project goals and stakeholder expectations lead one out of five projects to fail. No matter the current state of the project, these 5 steps should help managers either course-correct effectively, or complete the project with minimal turbulence.
From the moment you are notified that you will be taking over a project, you should conduct thorough research. Learn exactly what the project’s initial requirements were, who has what specific responsibility, who any sponsors or vendors are, and what exactly has been done with the project to date. Remember that the goal is to make the transition as seamless as possible.
A project transition meeting should consolidate the work carried out. This is the perfect opportunity to have a fresh pair of eyes on any issues. Remember that you are bringing new experiences to the table. An assumption to your team could be in your eyes a certainty, such as the effectiveness of a particular type of software. Reversely, your new team can clarify anything you may not understand. Once you know all the success factors, risks and milestones for your project, form transitionary action points to communicate to any stakeholders.
Once you have identified what project changes need to be implemented, they need to be communicated from the top-down. All changes in a project could be subject to resistance, and the only way to tackle this is to meld the proposed change into the company culture. Senior stakeholders should also provide any specific information about the organization’s resources that can help realise your proposed changes.
A project transition plan outlines the change, who is responsible for enacting it, what new risks may emerge as a result, and any logistical changes that are required. For the introduction of any new software or learning, a thorough knowledge management plan must be created so that it is dispersed properly through the project team. Going forward, this plan will be your point of reference to fight off project scope creep.
Ask your team how they were managed before: was their manager hands-on, or did they trust their team to get on with it? Solicit their thoughts on your proposed changes. After all, they will be the people enacting them. Listening attentively will enable you to delegate effectively. You must convey as early as possible that going forward, all communication will be open and transparent.
For managers and service practitioners, the ILX Group offers a powerful portfolio of globally-accredited learning solutions. Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the world’s most in-demand professional certifications, with certification that’s proven to boost chances of project success in an organization. If you specifically are looking to refine your project transition strategy, Managing Successful Programmes Foundation (MSP) is designed to help managers make large-scale organizational change “stick”. As part of the syllabus, the MSP Foundation course covers “controlling projects and transition.”
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