3 Tips to Make Your Project Transitions Occur Smoothly

At some point during the course of a project, a transition must occur. Ideally this doesn’t occur until the end of the project when you are transitioning from the implementation phase to the support phase. Unfortunately there are times when transitions need to occur during the implementation phase. Regardless of the scenario, I have found that there are a few things the Project Manager/Organization can do to make this transition go more smoothly.

  1. Establish a process for project artifacts (specific documents and central storage) – While each project may have slight variances to a set process, the more aligned the project documentation is, the easier it will be for a new team member to come up to speed. At a minimum I think this should include standard templates for project status including decisions, action items, upcoming goals and most immediately resolved items; project plans; statement of work & change orders; and support documentation that provides the technical details as well as business rules that impact the implementation (what will the support team need to know to manage the day to day operations of the implementation?).  The central repository for project documentation makes it easy for anyone to step in. They know exactly what has been transmitted and can see the progression of the project over time. Without these, time is wasted on finding the components rather than really digging in figuring out the state.
  2. Establish a process for team hand off – Once the new team has had a chance to review the project artifacts, it is important to bring all technical resources together. When you work on a long term project and try to document all the nuts and bolts of what you did to implement, sometimes there are intuitive pieces you fail to document. These are components that are so obvious to you that they have become insignificant. However, new resources won’t know and won’t necessarily know to ask, unless they have faced that situation before. In the process of talking through the implementation to educate the new team, these details surface and can be captured.
  3. Communicate! – The need to communicate only becomes larger during times of transition. The project manager needs to be fully engaged with all team members and stakeholders. Being open and honest about the transition state yields a bit of flexibility among the project team and stakeholders. Make sure to leverage this time to ask the basic questions you don’t know the answer to you and level set expectations.

Project transitions are inevitable, but don’t have to be a horrible experience. Having the proper project documentation, a central project document repository, team hand-offs and very open communication will significantly reduce the risk and improve the success.


4 Considerations When Choosing Project Management Tools

Project Managers tend to be very opinionated on the “right” PM tools to use. This discussion, and interview question has always frustrated me. I strongly believe that it doesn’t matter what tool you as the Project Manager prefers, you should be able to adapt to whatever tools work best for the organization and your customer. If you Google “recommended project management tools” or “the best project management tools” you can between 34 million and 125 million results. In my experience, there are four key considerations I use for the basis of deciding which tools will work best.


Keep it Simple! The least common denominator is usually the best option. Tons of fancy features aren’t generally very helpful. Often times you pay for the luxury of having those available. Apply the 80/20 rule to your evaluation process – 80% of of your needs will be fulfilled by 20% of the features & functionality in most project management tools.


Who is your audience? The tools you leverage with your project team or for your own planning will probably be different than those you use with broader stakeholders. I have found that simple tools are often best. While I can develop a complex gantt chart, and will sometimes do so for my own planning, I find basic word-processing & spreadsheet applications are easier for less technical (or PM focused) audiences.


Is your audience within or external to your organization or team? Often times you need to deliver project status and meeting notes to an audience with internal and external participants. These are more static update tools, rather than interactive. These tend to capture status, action items, changes, decisions, etc. This is the right tool for conveying priority or tasks to another team within your organization where you may share resources. Additionally, you will want to figure out how to make project artifacts easily accessible. This may be through an intranet for internal access only, or a collaborative/extranet solution.

If your audience is located in your same office, I would highly recommend using tools like white boarding and sticky notes to brainstorm and organize. Recent studies (here’s Inc’s write-up) have shown that leveraging less technical tools improves creativity and brain power.


This consideration encompasses cost and availability. Sometimes your decision is just made for you. If you are running your project budget or organization very lean, you’ll want to leverage open source or free software. Alternatively, if your organization has negotiated a software licensing deal that gives you access to specific tools, it may make the most sense just to use what’s available.

At the end of the day, don’t overthink your tool selection. Decide what your critical goals are, and find the tools that meet them. There are significant advances in project management tools that provide plenty of options. Not all of them are right for all projects, teams or organizations. Sometimes it best to get everyone in the room, using the most basic tools of all.