Best method of handing over SaaS development project from one team to another mid-way

Change by its nature, is hard in the beginning, messy in the middle and worthwhile in the end if the transition goes well. Handing over a SaaS development project from one company to another, midway is bound to get messy. The project manager who has to take over your project all of a sudden, probably had a lot on his plate, or maybe was spearheading a critical project he had invested a lot in, but now has been moved to yours. A good project manager understands perhaps his skill sets were more necessary to your project currently than the one he was working on or there were other extenuating circumstances. Whatever the reason, often they aren’t given the right of first refusal. Nevertheless, end of the day, everybody on the project wants the best handoff.

In an ideal scenario, the engineers who’ve been working on the project pair program with the engineers who are taking over the project, during the overlap period. Of course, a technical handoff is necessary too, wherein the code and architecture walkthroughs are done. If you’re jumping onto a development project mid way, then do adopt some of the steps mentioned below, unless you already follow them to catch up faster and make sure the transition is smooth.

1. Ensure your company follows a uniform project handover methodology

Having a standard method in place for you to track will ensure the transition goes as smoothly as possible and mainly just lend some method to the madness. Most organizations will already have a project handover process as a part of their project methodology. There will be certain key steps involved, and all these need to be documented well to make sure nothing gets missed.

2. Meet with the person who assigned the project to you

Talk to whoever awarded the project to you, face-to-face. Get as much high-level and detailed knowledge transfer as you can. Why did the transfer happen? What is the customer’s satisfaction level at this point? What are the pertinent issues? And find out if the outgoing project manager is available and include them in this discussion. Assimilate as much information from them as possible.

3. Study available project documentation

Now, grab as much current documentation on the project as possible. The most recent status reports will prove helpful and do a detailed review of the revised project schedule. Further, examine the budget analysis information and resource forecast in great detail. If the outgoing project manager wasn’t good enough at managing either of these, you'd have to put together the historical budget information on the project, so that you know where the project budget stands and then create these from scratch.

How to hand over a SaaS development project from one company to another mid-way

4. Team meeting

Organize a meeting with all the team members and the new project manager. Go through task status updates and project status updates with the team to understand their perspective and discuss the project as a whole, all the outstanding issues, what the customer pain points are, what the next hot tasks are, etc. If they had a good routine of weekly project meetings in place, this would turn out to be fairly straight forward. If they didn’t, it’s something you should incorporate into your project week. It will save you a lot of time in circumstances like these.

5. Meet with the original manager of accounts

This step depends on how far into the project you are. The account manager who closed the deal will have some valuable information on the assumptions which were made, customer needs which were figured out, and estimates which were derived and how they were derived. This information could come in handy, unless the project is already two-thirds complete, then likely not. This step is probably worth a phone call, but don’t spend too much time on it.

6. Lastly, dive into the project.

Introduce yourself to the project client, either over a call or during the next project status meeting. Share your resume, your experience on similar projects and hand them a revised status report and project schedule for the current week. The key is to be in charge, even if you’re still finding your footing and just try to get up to speed, depending on how quickly you’ve been required to jump on board.

Bottomline

This scenario takes a lot of finesse which comes from experience, to handle it well. Initially, during the handover process, you might find yourselves overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you’re dealing with. Just start with the basics. Get a short overview of the what the application is meant to achieve, go through the business case for this, then look through the functional specifications, then the high-level technical overview. If there’s a team at your end, split up the work and have structured reviews amongst yourselves. That will bring forth clarity and some important doubts.

Once you’re sitting across the table facing the team working on the project, begin with a full system demo. Ask questions and don’t settle for vague replies. Get the code checked, document the whole process then go through the build and install process. Make sure it’s all documented. Finally, go through the bug list. THe handover isn’t complete until all the documentation is sound and all your doubts are cleared.

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