Understanding Project Handovers
Any type of engineering project undoubtedly requires focus, but that focus can never be single-minded. When the CVL Engineers Inc. team begins working on a project, we’re always preparing for a final handover from the outset.
Handover is a crucial point in the project that needs to be handled with care and clarity. We always want to make sure that the work we’ve completed is useful to other organizations and stakeholders, which is why we follow a specific process for handovers.
How CVL Engineers Inc. Facilitates Smooth Handovers
The handover may occur when a project is complete (in which case the information is handed over to the client) or at some point during execution or construction to another party (such as a general contractor).
In both cases, it’s extremely important that all of the correct and necessary information is conveyed. Every person should walk away with a clear understanding of expectations and deliverables, as well as the next steps that need to be taken.
Four Rules to Follow for a Successful Handover
When it comes to finalizing and handing over projects, there are four basic rules we focus on at CVL:
1. Offer Quality Information (NOT Quantity)
This rule applies to engineering in many ways, and it’s fully applicable when it comes to providing information at the handover stage. After all, you are essentially catching someone up on what has taken you several months to grasp, all within a few days. It’s no easy task on either side, but you can make it far easier by sticking to this rule.
For example, giving your replacement a 50-page document that goes into detail about the project and plans will not be helpful. The person who receives the document may not read it at all, and if they do, the process will be gruellingly slow as they slog through the information.
Instead, provide information that breaks up the important points into organized, structured sections. Flowcharts and “next step” documents can be very helpful to orient a colleague or client to which actions need to be completed over the following weeks and months. Remember to check over everything for accuracy and readability before you pass it on, and make sure it’s fully up to date.
2. Have a Conversation
There are some parts of your job that you either shouldn’t or wouldn’t bother to document. For instance, you know that when Richard sends an email, you need to spell check it first because his content is great, but his grammar is terrible. You also know that you need to be the buffer between the client and your designer because the client can be rather sharp with criticism. These are items that won’t make it onto your lists and documents but are still essential for someone to know when stepping into the process.
“Passing over your brain” to someone else is not an easy task, but without your input, these pieces of information will remain lost forever, which could have a negative impact on the project. Make a bullet point list of the things you have on your radar (start this early, if possible). This gives the next “you” a fighting chance at being effective without learning everything the hard way.
3. Be Available
There will always be blanks to fill in as the handover occurs, so make sure you’re around to answer questions that come up. Keep in touch with your colleague or client and plan to make yourself available in the week or two following, just in case there are issues you hadn’t foreseen. You can also reach out directly to your replacement to touch base and clarify anything that came up since you last spoke. Handover is rarely a one-and-done process, so patience and thoroughness is crucial.
4. Manage Expectations
In any transition of management, there is always the risk that the leaving manager will think the new manager is handling it, and vice versa. This will result in some things not getting done at all. This means on every email, memo, and telephone call, you need to make it 100% clear as to who is expected to complete specific tasks.
Managing the expectations of the project team is important, too. There may be some confusion about who is responsible for certain aspects of the project or who should be consulted for questions or oversight. Ask team members for over-communication in this stage. For example, request that both you and your replacement are cc’d on all emails regarding the project for a certain period of time during and after the handover.
Starting at the End
As in all projects, it’s important that we’re always looking toward the end goals when we begin. Being organized from the outset means that we’ll be able to hand off the project smoothly when the time comes for another team to step in. Using this simple checklist for project handovers, we can do our part to make sure all work is completed effectively, on time, and according to plan.
If you have questions about this process, or you’d like to book a consultation for an upcoming project, please reach out to the professional engineers at CVL Engineers Inc.