How do you ensure that the work you have supported stands the test of time and can be used by your clients after you have gone? What’s the use of a shiny new implementation plan, if no one in the organisation owns it? Or an impressive dashboard that no one knows how to use, modify and tweak?
Author: Alfie Fielder
Published: 23 July 2019
At CF, we have supported multiple large scale transformation projects within the NHS, with lots of moving parts and many stakeholders to manage. From our experience, the successful hand over of work to client teams directly impacts on the long term results of a project. Here are the five top tips that CF employs to ensure a successful handover.
1. It takes time! Make time for hand over
A good handover is not a meeting, or a document, but a process. Whilst the key facts and figures for a project can be summarised in a pack, the nuance in understanding required to take over a project and run it well, can only be gained by working side by side with the client team for a period of time. The time required will of course vary depending on the complexity of the project, in some cases it may only need a day, but the important point is that when the client ‘takes over’, continued support is offered to the client to fill in the gaps.
2. Don’t just handover work, handover relationships
We all know how important relationships are to delivering successful transformation. But it’s easy to forget these relationships when it comes to handing over our projects. Of course, relationships exist between specific individuals and it’s not possible to pass them onto someone else like you would a spreadsheet. But we can still have a huge impact in facilitating the new relationships required to keep the project going when we’re gone; making introductions, leveraging the trust we have established and being a conduit for goodwill.
3. Know your audience: Not everyone needs to know everything
Even if you could put everything you needed to know in one handover document, this would not be a very efficient handover, because not everyone needs to know everything. Different stakeholders, workstreams, and team members will require different information and levels of detail. Recognising what each client team member will require going forward is the first step in making sure those needs are met, and the best way to get this understanding is through working closely with the client team during the handover process.
4. Ownership of the detail is crucial
Whilst not everyone needs to know everything, everything needs to be known by someone! Our outputs are always based on detailed analysis, with numerous assumptions, that have undergone various sign off procedures and subsequent iterations. Whilst the CEO may not be interested in the detail now, they might need to know it at some point down the line, and someone needs to understand and own the detail. Agreement on ownership of the detail is crucial during the handover stage because if no one owns it, it simply doesn’t get handed over
5. Leave a clear audit trail
As has been noted above, it’s not practical or even possible, to record everything you need to know to handover a project. But for the most important parts of the project - the key assumptions, the financials, the agreed plan, the final report - having a really clear audit trail is really important. In this respect a successful handover is really a process that starts at day 1 of the project. Not only does a clear audit trail act as a record of our achievements, it provides a reference point for the client team in the future, and future proofs our work to ensure it can have a lasting impact.
In summary, a successful handover is as important as the deliverables of a project and should not be an afterthought. Embedding a culture of successful handover in management consultancy work is essential to delivering long lasting impact for clients.