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Project Handoff Checklist


Quick Summary
Screenshot If you are transferring all or part of an existing project to a new team, or taking over from an existing project team, use these tips to ensure the transfer goes smoothly.


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What this is

This document is meant to help in situations where a portion of a project is being transferred to a new project manager and team. Often in a handoff situation like this, the two teams will continue to work in parallel on different aspects of related systems. These checklists, meeting outlines, and reminders in this document are designed to make sure that happens smoothly, and could easily be adapted to complete project handoffs. It would also be appropriate for teams making a mid-stream decision to start or discontinue vendor production of a portion of the project work.


Why it's useful

The philosophy behind the items in this checklist is designed to ensure a few key success factors are addressed in any handoff.

First, the initial project team explicitly and methodically hands over all related project deliverables to date, along with management-level summaries of the state of the project. This insures no misunderstandings regarding what work has been done and what work remains, including any major issues.

Next, it ensures that the scope of the project piece handed off is well understood, and that the new team is clear about who must be involved on the receiving end in order to continue the project successfully.

Third, it drives a thorough and responsible hand-off process, so that knowledge and context are transferred along with the project deliverables. This guarantees that the new project team has received everything they need to continue their aspect of the project successfully.

Finally, ongoing interfacing between the teams is considered, and related questions and recommended activities are identified and assigned. This ensures cooperation and smooth communication going forward, and reduces the likelihood of inter-team friction or resentments.


How to use it

  1. Define the portion of the project that will be handed off and who will receive it. In general, the current project deliverables, related requirements documentation, current test information, and established completion criteria will be required.
  2. Discuss the importance of a disciplined, orderly handoff with the sponsor and both project managers. It may be tempting to consider the hand-off just a "brain dump" or a formality, but establishing formal criteria for a successfully completed handoff will insure nothing is overlooked.
  3. Schedule a handoff planning meeting. Include cross-functional representatives from both teams, as well as both PMs and the project sponsor. You may want to include other key stakeholders, too.
  4. If you are receiving the project, review the handoff checklist with your team and define any questions, requirements, or expectations that it prompts.
  5. If you are handing off the project, review the checklist with your team and assemble the required documentation and deliverables, along with any additional material or information that it prompts. Remember to consider the best format for the receiving team when passing over information.
  6. Hold the handoff meeting and follow the checklist steps to complete the hand-off conversation.
  7. Follow-up on any action items that are determined during the hand-off meeting until the project is completely and successfully transferred to the new team.
  8. Communicate the handoff to any interested stakeholders, so no one is caught by surprise.

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