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12 factors for the successful handover of projects

A recent study from the Association for Project Management Research Fund identified four broad categories with three recommendations that emerge as factors that have been in place on multiple projects that have handed over successfully from transition to business-as usual. As such these should be considered lessons learned and fall into the category of ‘if you only do three things’ in each section:

Commercial/contractual

1. Requirements should be written into tender documentation/contracts in as much detail and as specifically as possible including engagement requirements, data environment and any standardisation of equipment or product that the client requires.

2. Whole life cost must be considered if at all possible. Does spending more now have an impact on the overall operating cost of the project throughout its life?

3. Incentivise success. If a scheme is well delivered, this should reward all parties.

Process

4. Handover is a process not a date. Planning for it should be from the start of the project and it should be viewed as an incremental transfer of knowledge and operation from project team to business-as-usual.

5. The benefits and deliverables must be measurable and communicable from the start. Ask why are we doing this project and how will we know when it is done?

6. Involve end users from the outset. Through stakeholder analysis, understand who will benefit from the project, who will be required to facilitate the delivery of the benefits and how the project outputs will impact their role.

Data and knowledge transfer

7. Documentation must be written for the end users. It may require different sets of documentation for different users but for documentation to support knowledge transfer it needs to be meaningful, applicable and relevant to the end users.

8. Collate lessons learned as the project progresses. It provides more meaningful data for future projects, it can be tied to stage gateways or key deliverables.

9. Agree the information requirements at the outset. This ensures all parties have a clear deliverable, know what is expected of them and work towards achieving the goal from the start of project.

People

10. Often overlooked but put simply get good people on your project and keep them for as long as you are able.

11. Definition of stakeholders should be carried out throughout and in detail. Who will be impacted by the project and who is needed to make it a success?

12. The client role is pivotal including client engagement.

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