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Six Tips for A Successful Project Manager Transition

handoffImage you are riding in a car on a busy highway and the driver just jumps out. That is what it can feel like when a trusted project manager leaves before the project has been completed. Unfortunately, this is bound to happen to your organization from time to time, but Andrew Makar has compiled six tips that can make the project manager transition go more smoothly:

  1. Review the project kick-off presentation deck
  2. Provide a project schedule deep dive
  3. Review the financial management processes
  4. Share the unspoken truths and the inside story
  5. Provide an overview of the project stakeholders and their interests
  6. Agree to be available by phone for two weeks

Just as the project kick-off presentation prepared the team for the project in the first place, it will prepare the new project manager to take over:

If you’ve developed a kick-off presentation, it will provide an excellent orientation to the incoming project manager on the goals, objectives, scope, timeline, and major deliverables. If done correctly, the presentation format is a much better approach than reading an exhaustive charter of lengthy scope statement. The kick-off deck should contain a summary of the high-level processes used to manage the project; this includes issue management, risk management, change management, schedule management, status reporting cadence, and major milestones. A properly constructed kick-off deck will make it easier for you to convey the major elements of the project and components of the project management plan.

Incoming project managers must be supplied with a detailed review of the project schedule. Once the project is understood, the new project manager needs to review the financial management processes. This way, there will be no confusion over what your company expects versus the expectations of other companies. Furthermore, all unspoken truths and inside stories should be shared with the new project manager. A lack of surprises will lead to increased productivity.

Providing an overview of the project stakeholders and their interests is always wise. Makar notes that different stakeholders have different interests each with its own individual impact on the project. Finally, to further ensure a smooth transition between project managers, the exiting project manager should agree to be available by phone for two weeks. This will ensure that any remaining questions are answered quickly and with limited hassle. The more prepared you are for a transition, the less you will feel like your project is rolling out of control.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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