Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It’s a Hand-Off: Your road map to a successful transition

Managing changes to your project team is always a challenge. But what do you do if, in the midst of a project, you either inherit the project, becoming the new PM, or the client changes project managers, essentially creating a new client for the project team?

If the client is making a change to their project manager, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Getting your new client up to speed requires planning and time
  • Do not assume the new client will be able to figure the work out as it moves along
  • Be prepared to walk your new client through the major decisions made on the project to date
  • Be prepared for your new client to disagree with some of their predecessor’s decisions and bring their own (different) ideas to the project

If you are the new project manager, then you also have your work cut out for you. You need to do the following:

  • Get up to speed on the project
  • Keep the project moving forward during your transition
  • Get acquainted with the client and demonstrate that this change will not negatively impact the project
  • Engage the project team and keep them moving forward on the project

Four must-do steps to communicating a change in PMs

1. The PM and principal (or client manager) meet with the client or new client PM to discuss the transition.

2. If you are the new PM, meet with your project team to discuss the transition, any immediate project issues or concerns, and plans for an interim kick-off meeting.

3. Conduct an interim kick-off meeting. A new client PM or PM need to have a clear understanding of the status (scope, schedule, project) of the project. During this meeting you must:

  • Review the project PMP (project management plan) at the meeting and update it. If you do not have one, this is the time to put one together
  • Review each task to be completed on the project in the next three months and capture the status of the tasks and any outstanding issues related to the task
  • Review long-lead items or actions, capture their status and any outstanding issues
  • Identify imminent deliverables and deadlines

4. Prioritize tasks, actions, and resolution of outstanding issues and prepare a list of items to be completed before the next team meeting.

Having completed a thorough review of the project status, the updated PMP and action-item list are your road map for continuing forward with the project. The four steps provide an opportunity to review project goals and expectations. They also provide an opportunity for the new PM and the entire project team to confirm mutual understanding and buy-in on the project.

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