Project Management

How to Pick Up a Project from Someone Else

Momentum is precious on work in progress. Too much stopping and starting creates delays and frustrations in equal proportion. So when you are depended upon to take over a project already in progress, it really tests your abilities. In a post at A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Elizabeth Harrin discusses how to pick up a project from someone else smoothly.

Momentum Maintained

First, get the actual handover. You need a play by play from the previous project manager. Get a record of all important paperwork, especially where money is concerned. Know what milestones have been met, the projected timetable for completion, an understanding of the group dynamics, etc. As well, you need an “off the record” chat to know what the stakeholders are expecting and which may pose difficulties.

Next, get introductions. Before making his/her departure, have the previous project manager introduce you positively and talk you up:

In his book Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Robert B. Cialdini talks about how having someone else introduce you is a more powerful way of making a first impression. Get the leaving project manager to make positive introductions, and ask them to specifically point out that the project remains in good hands.

That’s a message that will give confidence to stakeholders who might be nervous about the change in project manager and it means you’re more likely to get off on the right foot.

Lastly, go through project initiation again, but by yourself this time. This is now your project; you are not obligated to run it the way the previous leader did. Review it with a fine-tooth comb and consider what you would do when you normally set up a project. Find out what is working and what won’t work, and keep all involved up to date.

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