Recently Project Resource Partners held an event in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Project Managers that discussed ‘Transitioning into Operations’. The discussion was to explore how rarely now there is a simple ‘handover’ on a project, as the point at which project delivery ends and operations begins is increasingly blurred.
To investigate this topic, we had industry experts from diverse backgrounds with sector experience in transport, utilities, health, financial services, government, emergency services and commercial services. The projects covered; automation, business transformations, new capital works, construction, facility upgrades and ICT roll-outs.
Despite this diversity there were central themes that our four speakers all agreed were integral to both the success of a project and managing the transition into operations. Below are five points that seemed to resonate across the speakers, and whilst they seem obvious the nature of different environments and structures mean that often it is far easier said than done.
Understanding who the client is?
Know who this is from the start of the project. This can be difficult; is it the founder of the project, the end user, the final customer, is it all three, or even someone else? Knowing this will help with regards to communication throughout the project life cycle and through the transition into operations.
What is the project delivering?
Understanding the desired end outcome is also very important, and ensuring that it is clarified and continually discussed throughout the lifecycle of the project. Sometimes what is wanted changes, and it’s better to know that earlier rather than later!
Given the matrixed nature of a lot of projects it is important to understand who has overall responsibility for what, and who can make decisions of what. This ensures that when a decision needs to be made it can be made, there is someone who can make it. This is particularly important when decisions are needed quickly and where opinions may differ.
This is important to continually stay on top of and ensure that expectations of your end client are being met throughout the lifecycle of the project. What you can’t do is assume that you are on the right track as requirements change. In relation to the topic of the discussion it is also important to understand what the expectation is around handover and who is responsible for what.
Throughout all the above points the importance of two-way (or multi way) communication is key, and the channels need to open throughout the project and through the handover phase. The clearer these communication lines are and the more transparent the project is the more chance they have of success.
None of these things by themselves will guarantee success, and there are other areas that are needed such as governance, strong design etc. What they will do is ensure that the project has a better chance of delivering what is required and ensuring a smoother ‘Transition into Operations.’