How to Pick Up A Project from Someone Else

I have transformed into a woman who runs down Regent Street wearing ridiculous heels in the last few weeks to get to her next meeting.
Who has ever said, “Sorry. I’ve got a mouthful lunch, hang on,” so many times on the telephone because there’s not enough time to finish lunch.
Who has ever paid library fines, even though the books are there and ready to be returned?
In other words, life has been very busy.
All this is because I have taken on a new project. We’ve moved things around and I’ve taken on a big, complex piece of work. It’s interesting.
It’s in great shape because the previous PM did an outstanding job. The team is committed and knows what they are doing. It was my first day as a true leader and I received 47 emails about it. There’s a lot happening and I don’t feel like I know what to do.
It’s still autumn here, my favorite time of the year, with leaves that cheer me up, even if I have gotten out of bed four times in a night with a toddler who’s going through the ‘there’s a T–Rex in my closet and I’m scared’ phase.
Here are my tips to help you get started on a project someone has handed over.
Scroll down to download a free Project Initiation Checklist. This checklist contains everything you need to know when you start a new project. Take a handover
The title is the clue. They are handing you responsibility, so they must actually do a handover. Keep copies of all important papers, especially anything that has to do with money spent. Ask about the team. Examine the milestones.
This is the formal part. Now, have a private chat.
Find out what stakeholders want and which ones are having a difficult time right now. You can get a lot of information from the old project manager about office politics and how to cut down your learning curve.
2. Get introduced
Although I cannot find the source of the story (get in touch with me if you do), someone once told me a story about two soldiers. They agreed to speak up whenever they could.
They began to talk about each other’s experience and credentials over the years. They were each promoted faster than the norm, and that was not surprising.
Robert B. Cialdini, in his book Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Methods to Be Persuasive explains how it is more effective to have someone else introduce yourself. Ask the departing project manager to make positive introductions and to point out that the project is still in good hands.
This message will give confidence to stakeholders that might be anxious about the change in project managers and it will help you get started on the right track.
It’s possible that the soldier story is also in that book.
3. Re-read the project initiation process (by yourself).
To give yourself a sense of what you would do if you were setting up a project, here are some examples. Is there a project initiation form? Is there a business case? Is there a Yammer group that you could set up for a new project?
You can download the Project Initiation Checklist if you leave your email address in this box. Follow these steps. You should be happy with the way you’re running this project.
You can put in place any changes you feel are necessary and stop any that don’t fit with your vision of the project. Make sure everyone is informed.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be run the same way as the previous person. It’s yours. It’s your choice.
Now, go forth and be awesome!
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