A Complete Guide on How to Seamlessly Take Over an Existing Project

As enterprise managers, we’re usually tasked with taking over a enterprise in progress. In this info, we’ll outline the best way to plan a enterprise takeover and execute it flawlessly. Use the included enterprise supervisor tips in your upcoming initiatives.


As enterprise managers (PMs), we not usually have the luxurious of starting a enterprise from scratch. Most of the time, as soon as we deal with a enterprise, it has already been started by one other individual sooner than us. To effectively take over and execute initiatives, a enterprise supervisor has to make use of a certain self-discipline to make sure all of the items is taken into account.

In this info, we’ll outline an essential steps that we predict are important to pay attention to by dissecting our disadvantage into 5 utterly totally different ranges:

This takeover course of is totally neutral of the methodology used to run the enterprise (Waterfall, Agile, and so forth.) and signifies the scope of information to gather and actions to take.

As a enterprise supervisor, you could purpose to gather all associated data in each of these courses as rapidly as you start the enterprise. Some of it’s going to happen organically as you meet your new colleagues and workers members. However, totally different points would require you to be additional proactive in establishing conferences, retrieving data, and documenting from inside sources. Whichever state of affairs you find yourself in, we hope this info will possible be a useful reference degree for you in making certain you have a straightforward enterprise transition.

Company Level

Company Mission and Vision

Too many PMs leap into the every day duties with out getting a fantastic grasp of the company’s mission and imaginative and prescient. These phrases could seem cliché or detached from the regularly actuality of the employees, however cannot be understated, notably for PMs taking initiatives with present historic previous.

In some circumstances—often in smaller companies—they might not be explicitly acknowledged altogether. Other totally different circumstances, we uncover the mission and imaginative and prescient blended into one assertion—a type of raison d’etre. However, listed below are two the explanation why you could spend on the very least some time understanding every the company mission and imaginative and prescient when taking over a enterprise:

  • It provides a psychological foundation in your high-level overview. If you don’t instantly grasp the meaning, ask your direct supervisor to interrupt it down for you and permit them to make clear how they understand it. It will make internalizing the targets of the enterprise, product, and enterprise loads easier for you.
  • It provides purpose to you and your workers. Which of these is additional thrilling?
Good versus bad company vision

If you internalize the company mission and imaginative and prescient, one can discover additional purpose in your every day duties, notably when points get troublesome. Moreover, you might be increased outfitted to encourage your workers to execute a enterprise when you can foster and cite a shared sense of purpose.

Company Culture

Company custom is an important facet to try when taking over a enterprise, notably in a model new agency. Companies can have very numerous sorts of custom, which have an effect on how people speak and work collectively. This meta particulars concerning the social materials and the relationships between utterly totally different parts of the company could also be very useful when attempting to barter budgets, have an effect on stakeholders, or simply speak with totally different departments.

For occasion, typical financial institutions, corresponding to banks, are prone to have a extremely rigid agency custom that has an entire lot of unwritten tips about all of the items, from the costume code to which division has explicit duties or who to ask for help. This have to be taken into account when taking over with the intention to increased slot in and work collectively together with your workers all through the cultural norms they’re used to.

On the alternative hand, some startups have a distant custom, the place people not usually meet specifically individual. Instead, plenty of the social interactions happen over devices, corresponding to Slack and JIRA. Such a “remote first” custom could also be unfamiliar to the enterprise managers coming from a additional typical enterprise administration setting. In this case, simply make certain you may have a fantastic microphone and webcam to make the communication as seamless as doable. Also, attain out to people generally to foster relationships.

When taking over a enterprise, flip into aware of the cultural norms that exist throughout the new agency and try to manage your actions and administration style accordingly.

Local vs. Global Decision-making

Within any agency, there are choices {{that a}} enterprise supervisor may make on their very personal versus tips and procedures that they should observe. The procedures generally tend to fluctuate as a corporation grows. More choices are taken globally to reduce chaos and standardize how the company operates.

This is critical to know because of it should have an effect on how one could make choices in your enterprise later throughout the enterprise lifecycle. For occasion, the duties of a enterprise supervisor could also be very utterly totally different all through a startup compared with an enterprise. Of course, there’ll on a regular basis be a distribution—for example, when a PM can formulate a plan of motion nonetheless would need an approval from senior administration.

Here are quite a few situations and the best way they may differ if choices are made regionally or globally:

Communication machineTeams are free to determine on.Everyone makes use of the similar machine.
Vendor alternativePM can choose a vendor for non-critical areas with out approvals.All new distributors have to endure the procurement office.
Hiring/firingPM manages the workers all through the worth vary obtainable.PM has no say over who joins or leaves the workers.
Stakeholder changePM updates stakeholders of their very personal methodology.Project administration office requests data from PM and updates stakeholders in a standardized methodology.
ExpensesTeam managers are ready to approve payments.Expenses are accredited by the finance workers or the startup founder.

Knowing which case your group falls in to will assist you to to prepare for the decision-making in your enterprise.

Company Summary Checklist:

  • Company Mission and Vision – Figure out what the company does and why
  • Company Culture – Understand your group’s cultural norms
  • Local vs. Global Decision-making – Understand the decision-making course of

Business and Product Level

The Business Model

On the first days of a enterprise takeover, it is important to spend the time to create a psychological high-level picture of the complete agency, enterprise, and product, and the best way your enterprise fits into these. In a way or one different, your group is getting money to have the flexibility to carry out the mission and the imaginative and prescient.

You don’t wish to spend a lot of time memorizing the entire revenue streams and progress metrics throughout the preliminary ranges of a enterprise takeover. However, try to know how money strikes in and out of the company along with what the precept revenue drivers and worth services are. Also, ask spherical if there are any large company-wide fast to mid-term targets (like getting right into a model new market). Having knowledge about it’s going to assist you to to raised understand the options which could be being made and the best way they might have an effect on your enterprise in the end.

The Product

Your agency may have one or quite a few merchandise which could be producing revenue, and your enterprise will possible be part of actually one in all them. Understanding the product will assist you to increased place your enterprise inside the right context. An excellent place to begin out is testing out the product your self. Below is an inventory of questions you could deal with to get a better preliminary grasp of the product:

Knowing options to these questions will assist you to to raised understand the reasons in your enterprise and the place it fits throughout the complete product enterprise price chain.


One of an essential jobs of a PM is stakeholder administration. Even if you happen to’re delivering on time and inside worth vary, your workers could also be engaged on outdated stakeholder needs. Alternatively, if the stakeholders mustn’t have enough data, they might not be invested in your enterprise. Stakeholder administration is an ongoing, every day course of nonetheless there are a selection of obligatory points to ponder on the very beginning when taking over a enterprise.

The Project Manager Book of Knowledge (PMBOK) has a whole chapter on determining stakeholders with the required devices and methodologies. This work is important and may take some time, nonetheless listed below are an essential stakeholder groups that it’s important to be looking at on the first day:

Key stakeholders during the initial phase of project takeover
  • Project Team. This consists of workers members like builders, designers, QA consultants, and others. Your workers can provide you a deep notion into the historic previous of the product and enterprise choices and the best way it impacted their work beforehand. This may additionally make it easier to decide the challenges which can repeat in the end.
  • Project Sponsor. This could also be one explicit individual (your direct supervisor or a startup co-founder) or a gaggle of people inside an enterprise, who’ve conceived the enterprise and secured funding for it. A enterprise sponsor is a champion of the enterprise and must be one in all many first stakeholders you contact to get a top level view of the prevailing enterprise and its historic previous.
  • Portfolio Manager or Program Manager. These roles might not be present in all companies; however, these they’re usually managing quite a few capabilities and business-wise related initiatives immediately. They will assist you to put your enterprise proper right into a wider context and decide if there are any related initiatives and totally different PMs that you could work together.
  • Customers or Users. Whether you could be engaged on a B2C, B2B, or inside product, your enterprise will nonetheless have some type of an individual group. If your workers includes a product supervisor, then they should have the flexibility to current a top level view of this stakeholder group and their expectations. Otherwise, contact them to know what’s their current ideas and what they rely on of your enterprise in the end.

Once you acknowledged these stakeholders, you might make a RACI matrix to raised understand the place they match throughout the complete enterprise building, and if and the best way they might have an effect on your enterprise.

Business Summary Checklist:

  • Business Model – Understand the enterprise model and revenue streams
  • Product – Get a fantastic grasp of the product. Try to utilize it your self
  • Stakeholders – Reach out to key stakeholders

Project Level

Why Are You Taking Over?

The very first question you could ask sooner than even making an attempt on the worth vary, schedule, workers, or the remaining is, “Why are you taking over?” Three eventualities are most plausible:

  • There was no enterprise supervisor sooner than and points started slipping through the cracks. This often happens when a small and fast enterprise turns into better and longer. There could also be no specific points, merely that additional building and progress visibility is required. Implement the suggestions from this textual content associated to your enterprise.
  • The enterprise supervisor was eradicated or fired. If that’s the case, then you could ask the essential factor stakeholders the place the most important points have been and you’ll want to focus on these areas at first. Try to go looking out some quick wins to realize the vanity and perception of the stakeholders.
  • The earlier enterprise supervisor left. Did the PM depart because of they purchased a better present someplace nonetheless the stakeholders have been pleased with their work? If so, try and maintain the established order whereas looking out for options for enchancment. If the PM left because of they weren’t getting along with some stakeholders then if doable, contact the sooner PM and give attention to this. Building rapport with the stakeholders in question will possible be of key significance for you.

Scope, Schedule, and Budget

Project scope, schedule, and budget

Figuring out the scope of an present enterprise is totally totally different compared with if you end up starting a model new enterprise. In the latter case, you gather requirements from stakeholders and description the scope based on the worth vary you have. When you take over, someone has presumably executed this work and now your job is to know if the outlined scope is lifelike and achievable.

The first pure step is to look through the prevailing enterprise belongings. It could very nicely be a Gantt chart, work breakdown building (WBS), or an Agile backlog and launch plan. Sometimes, you might be constrained by hours devoted by inside agency teams in its place of the direct worth vary. In this case, attempt to find out in the event that they’ve one other deadlines and in case your enterprise could also be delayed because of their totally different commitments.

Whatever you uncover, it is a should to realign the enterprise scope and schedule collectively together with your key stakeholders. Remember the question “Why are you taking over?” Unmanaged stakeholder expectations could also be the reason why the sooner PM was eradicated. Thus, on this case, you may have been chosen to make sure this doesn’t happen as soon as extra. It may find yourself that the scope, schedule, or worth vary are unrealistic. Come to this conclusion as early on as doable and give attention to it with the enterprise sponsor. The preliminary ranges of enterprise takeover are a good time to proper the errors made sooner than you, nonetheless the longer you wait to resolve these points, the additional your stakeholders may question your capability to complete the enterprise.

Finding Project Champions

While exploring the enterprise and its stakeholders, it is rather essential uncover out additional about individuals who discover themselves invested in your enterprise’s success. Some of these stakeholders will possible be what it is usually known as project champions.

These are the people who agree with the explanation to your initiatives even when they aren’t instantly answerable for it. They will exit of their methodology to help your enterprise succeed. For occasion, if you happen to’re establishing a model new time monitoring software program, enterprise champions could possibly be individuals who discover themselves fascinated about seeing your enterprise achieved and deployed throughout the agency.

It’s obligatory to find out them early because of they will current invaluable notion into what’s required in your enterprise to realize success. Sometimes they will moreover indirectly assist you to by testing out early variations of the product and providing ideas or by advocating the importance of the product to their pals.

Try and uncover these champions by talking to your enterprise teammates and people who initially developed an concept for the initiative. Once found, keep in mind to take care of them educated and updated about your enterprise lifecycle.

Project Summary Checklist:

  • Why Are You Taking Over? – Did the sooner PM depart? Was he or she fired? Or was there no PM to begin with?
  • Key Assets – Understand the scope, schedule, and worth vary
  • Project Champions – Find your key supporters

Team Level

Project manager and project team members

Team Relationships and Structure

If you take over a enterprise, the workers will already be in place. You first must cope with it as a unbroken and decide how the workers is structured, the best way it operates, and who the precept influencers all through the workers are. Was the workers gathered just for this enterprise or has it labored collectively before now? Which stage the workers is at—forming, storming, norming, or performing? Is the workers co-located or distant? Is all people an employee or are there contractors or freelancers who moreover work throughout the workers.

All of these questions will have an effect on in your capability to effectively deal with the enterprise and would require as a way to regulate your technique alongside one of the best ways. For occasion, in case your workers continues to be throughout the storming part, you may must step in and deal with the relationships of the workers members to push them into normalizing them sooner than they will attain their most stage of effectivity. The workers may additionally be on the separate ranges inside itself. If you have few separate locations of labor, utterly totally different parts of the workers can have a extremely utterly totally different dynamic, and likewise you may must put throughout the extra effort to normalize the workers dynamic all through the workers however moreover all through utterly totally different locations.

Also when you may have workers members which could be working remotely, you may have to ensure that they are included throughout the conversations and every day alternative making. Otherwise, they will start feeling like they’re merely being assigned duties and they aren’t an precise part of the workers. This could also be mitigated by all people using the similar devices for submitting new ideas and dealing on them. If, for example, new ideas are submitted on Slack or one different distant collaboration machine by all people, it affords a chance for distant workers members to hitch the discussions on the equal entry stage.

Team Dynamics and History

If the sooner PM was eradicated, one objective could have been that they weren’t ready to deal with the workers efficiently. If that appears to be the case, attempt to find out the premise causes of the problems and use the enterprise takeover as a chance to restart the workers relationships.

Also, gather the entire informal particulars concerning the workers member statuses, and their historic previous of working with each other. This tacit data can current some key insights into the reasons in your workers’s effectivity or lack of it. For occasion, if there is a dominating member inside your enterprise that others are afraid to drawback it might very nicely be that they seem to be a root motive for an entire lot of friction all through the workers.

Staffing and Growth Status

Having analyzed the enterprise scope, schedule, and worth vary, does the enterprise workers seem adequately staffed to complete the enterprise? If not, try to find out the reasons behind the state of affairs. Maybe there is a blocker throughout the hiring course of; maybe HR has not been able to find the in-demand specialists.

If that is the case, you can try and seek for distant professionals or attain out to staffing corporations to fill the roles wished. Since staffing could also be one in all many fundamental bottlenecks for lots of initiatives, it’s obligatory that you just do it early on, subsequently it’s a key issue to check when taking over the enterprise.

Team Summary Checklist:

  • Project Team Status – Figure out your workers’s relationships and building
  • Project Team History – Understand workers dynamics and historic previous
  • Staffing and Growth Status – Understand in case your workers is sufficiently staffed

Project Manager Level

Expectations for the PM

Different companies and initiatives have very utterly totally different expectations about what enterprise managers must do and why. To avoid confusion and disagreements shortly, it is rather essential decide what’s predicted of a PM every from the patron perspective and from the angle of all the alternative members of the workers.

For occasion, some companies rely on {{that a}} enterprise supervisor should even be a Scrum grasp. Even if it’s a separate place, some initiatives and corporations have expectations that transcend the distinctive job description of a PM. This might not be utterly clear sooner than you start a enterprise, so take into accout to probe this matter if you do.

It’s essential to moreover decide how enterprise supervisor effectivity is measured and valued. Are you going to have a clear set of KPIs you may determine at? Or is your workers’s success the one effectivity indicator your stakeholders will use? How usually will you have effectivity opinions, and may you have someone who will possible be your mentor or a corporation “buddy”?

Since this impacts the enterprise supervisor instantly, it’s good to try this as early as doable to have the flexibility to hold out in response to the expectations.

Procurement Process

Depending on what backlog your new workers has in entrance of you, you might be hit by a procurement-related course of on the first day or after three months. Even if it is the latter case, it’s reasonably essential to have on the very least a troublesome considered how procurement and vendor alternative works in your group. This knowledge will assist you to make increased choices about backlog objects and enterprise schedule and may additionally make it easier to avoid sudden delays.

Whatever the size of your group, there’ll possible be some course of for procurement even when it isn’t written down wherever. Ask your direct supervisor or totally different PMs how distributors are chosen and confirmed. You could also be required you to to create a request for proposal (RFP), rank the entire submissions based on specified requirements, and choose the winner.

Alternatively, the strategy could very nicely be a lot much less stringent and also you presumably can have the flexibility to pick distributors independently. In this case, make sure that to ask spherical about already present distributors. Even though your workers members have been working proper right here for longer, they might not focus on the entire parts of the platform and the utterly totally different distributors utilized by totally different teams. Also, ask your direct supervisor if it is important to sign off with them about new distributors and the best way you could current this data.

One different factor to note is the service-level settlement (SLA) expectations inside your group. If your enterprise is enterprise important, then it’s important to be looking at distributors with 24-hour helps and quick disadvantage choice timeframes. If the expectations is not going to be that high, then you definitely presumably could be looking at cheaper selections with longer response situations.

Create a Vendor List

If there wasn’t one in place already, start an present vendor document in your enterprise. You don’t have to fill it out to 100% instantly. Just start a model new doc with the subsequent fields:

Vendor list for a project
  • Name – You can hyperlink to their website.
  • Category – Don’t take into accounts this an extreme quantity of at first, merely write down what makes in all probability probably the most sense on the time and alter it later if clearer courses emerge.
  • Short description – Be momentary, merely enough to assist you to or others understand how the vendor helps you out (e-shop funds, infographics freelancer).
  • Vendor contact – A great suggestion to take care of these helpful as they will get misplaced in emails.
  • Internal contact – If there’s someone in your workers or the company who’s retaining concerned with the vendor or a developer who has built-in a third-party decision. This could possibly be the one that’s conscious of in all probability probably the most regarding the vendor and your group’s engagement with it.

Having this document will assist you to to hint and deal with enterprise effectivity related to each vendor. Also, it should assist you to to have a considerably higher grasp of the current state of affairs throughout the enterprise and the place the precept bottlenecks could also be.

Project Manager Summary Checklist:

  • Expectations for the PM – Figure out the expectations and KPIs for a PM in your enterprise
  • Procurement Process – Find out regarding the procurement processes
  • Create a Vendor List – List the entire potential distributors in your enterprise


Project takeover checklist for project managers

This info and tips is not any methodology exhaustive; however, it tries to provide the very best overview of the problems you could take a look at first when taking over a enterprise, notably throughout the absence of a clear enterprise handoff or a enterprise supervisor transition plan. Some of these items could also be acquainted and others could also be a lot much less so, nonetheless going through all of them will assure you have a robust foundation to take over a enterprise.

Below is a summarized tips you could use in your future reference.

Key Takeaways – Project Takeover Checklist

Company Summary Checklist:

  • Company Mission and Vision – Figure out what the company does and why
  • Company Culture – Understand your group’s cultural norms
  • Local vs. Global Decision-making – Understand the decision-making course of

Business Summary Checklist:

  • Business Model – Understand the enterprise model and revenue streams
  • Product – Get a fantastic grasp of the product. Try to utilize it your self
  • Stakeholders – Reach out to key stakeholders

Project Summary Checklist:

  • Why Are You Taking Over? – Did the sooner PM left, was fired or there was none
  • Key Assets – Understand the scope, schedule, and worth vary
  • Project Champions – Find your key supporters

Team Summary Checklist:

  • Project Team Status – Figure out your workers’s relationships and building
  • Project Team History – Understand workers dynamics and historic previous
  • Staffing and Growth Status – Understand in case your workers is sufficiently staffed

Project Manager Summary Checklist:

  • Expectations for the PM – Figure out the expectations and KPIs for a PM in your enterprise
  • Procurement Process – Find out regarding the procurement processes
  • Create a Vendor List – List the entire potential distributors in your enterprise

Further learning on the Toptal Projects Blog:

  • 3 Essential Project Manager Skills and How to Hone Them
  • Implementing a Project Management Office: 4 Steps to Success
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