The Importance of a Good Project Handover
So you’ve completed your project, on time and under budget. The customer is thrilled with the quality of the product but you still have one key hurdle to clear before you can call your project a true success – you need to ensure a smooth handover of the solution to the customer. A well-facilitated handover of a solution to customer resources for ongoing maintenance is a key step in being able to easily step away from the project in a planned and organized manner. Not to mention that the customer needs to have that confidence that once you and your team have ridden off into the sunset that they will be able to effectively support the product you’ve built for them (presuming you’re not keeping them engaged via a paid support plan). Here are three tips to ensuring a solid solution handover.
Know What Your Customer Doesn’t Know
So many times I’ve seen technical training gone awry simply because the trainer focuses on items that the trainees seem to already be familiar with. When doing knowledge handover it’s vital to understand what it is that the customer doesn’t know. While you can inquire with the customer about what to train them on in terms of a handover, be prepared for the response “I don’t know what I don’t know” which is perfectly valid. Use your experience to list out topics that you think, given the understanding of the customer’s level of knowledge, would be relevant and useful to teach.
While your designated trainer needs to have the technical chops to deliver the handover effectively, they also need to have a good customer bedside manner, meaning reading the room and being able to see the non-verbals that may indicate a pivot is needed. Often times I’ve seen technical trainers stick to a script regardless of how it’s being received by the audience which simply leads to frustration and often times re-doing the training (at zero cost to the customer). Picking up on the signals allows a trainer to re-think how the delivery of the training is going and while sticking to the agenda, being able to use a different voice to convey the necessary knowledge to the trainees.
Focus on Confidence as well as Knowledge
This is basically building on the previous point. Whoever is doing a solution handover needs to make sure that when they leave, the customer resources are not only educated in how to effectively support the solution but also confident in their ability to. The training is not effective if the first reaction by customer resources is to call the project expert on their first day supporting the solution. By understanding that self-confidence in supporting and maintaining the solution going forward is just as important as knowledge, the trainer can adjust their delivery and voice to make sure that the customer’s knowledge is bolstered by their confidence that they can carry they weight of supporting the solution going forward.
Being able to leave the keys to the product in the hands of capable customer resources is key to a successful project/product handover. This ensures the customer’s proper usage of the system but also the correct ways in which to support the system, minimizing the panicked phone calls from customer IT requesting emergency help because they made an incorrect decision on the administration of the system. Having an effective support structure in place, by means of well-educated customer resources will help ensure a smooth usage of the product and hopefully more business coming your way.