How to Perform a Successful Software Project Handover (Incl. Free Checklist)

By Linda RoperOctober 13, 2022

Typically, software projects are intended to stay with one team or person to ensure that the software (whether that is accounting, sales or marketing software) is implemented and used in its most efficient way. However, there are times when it's necessary to transfer the usership of a business software to another team or team member. Whether it's because of an internal restructure or a sudden departure of a key stakeholder, it's important to have a plan in place for how to transfer responsibility for the software from one person to the next.

In this article, we'll discuss how to perform a successful software project handover. We'll also provide a free software project handover checklist that you can use to make sure the handover goes smoothly!

Table of Contents

Software Project Handover Checklist

The following checklist should be used when handing over a software project to another team or team member:

Pencil and 4 tick boxes in front of orange background

1. Maintain Contact With Former Team

This one can be difficult, but it's crucial that this line of communication remains open. This may involve bringing on former team members on a part-time or consultancy basis. At the very least, you'll want to ensure there is a clear onboarding process where the new team can glean everything they need from the old team before the ties are permanently cut.

Why this matters?

Software projects and the use of business software in general, can be an incredibly complex and daunting undertaking. There are a lot of things to learn and it's important that everyone is on the same page. By maintaining contact with the former team, you can ensure that there are no surprises down the road when the new person in charge of the software is trying to work with it.

2. Include detailed documentation

To onboard the new team effectively, it's important to have a clear and concise documentation in place. This should include everything from an overview of the project to detailed instructions on how to use the software. It's also a good idea to include a readme file as part of your software project handover document, which will include key troubleshooting queries to ensure a smooth transition.

Why this matters?

Documentation is key when it comes to any software project. By having a clear and concise documentation, you can make sure your new team get quickly up to speed and understand how to work with the software.

3. Provide a clear roadmap

If the software project is still in its infancy (for example you're just starting your journey to implement an expense management software in your business), it's not enough to simply handover the software to the new team, you'll also need to provide a clear roadmap of where the project is going. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises down the road. This is still important even when the new team intends to make changes as a roadmap will provide crucial context.

Why this matters?

A software project is an ever-evolving entity and by providing a clear roadmap, you can avoid any confusion about what has already been done and what still needs to be achieved.

4. Ensure Account Access

It may seem basic, but it's important to ensure that the new team has access to all of the relevant accounts. It's also a good idea to provide them with a list of passwords in a secure location.

Why this matters?

As any previous credentials will obviously need to be revoked, it's urgent that this part of the handover is done in a timely and organised fashion, because failure could prove problematic down the road.

5. Clean House

Before the handover officially takes place, you'll want to clean up any messy databases so that the new team can hit the ground running. This includes everything from ensuring that there are no empty fields in the database and all the information in the system is up to date. In short, you'll want to make sure that the new team has a solid foundation to work from.

Why this matters?

People get lazy and will often become accustomed to their own particular way of doing things. This is true for software users too. But once a new team takes over, processes and workflows that were simple for one person to understand could easily be a mystery for the next person if they haven't been managed properly.

Common Software Project Handover Problems

Getting the software project handover process right is crucial to its success. Unfortunately, there are many ways that the process can go wrong. Here are some of the most common issues that occur during software handovers:

Woman sitting on desk holding eyes closed after encountering software project handover problems

1. Lack of documentation

One of the most common problems with software handovers is a lack of documentation. If you don't have a clear and concise documentation, it will be very difficult for the new team to understand the software and how it works.

2. Lack of training

Another common issue is a lack of training for the new team. If they don't understand how to use the software, they'll quickly become frustrated and may make mistakes that could jeopardise the project.

3. Poor communication

Poor communication is another common issue that can occur during software handovers. If the two teams don't communicate well, it will be difficult to transfer knowledge and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Organising the handover

There are two aspects here that both need to be handled carefully. Onboarding the new team and offboarding the old team.

You'll want to be patient and supportive of your new team, ensure they are properly trained and have access to all of the relevant documentation. It's also important to make sure that they understand the roadmap for the project so that everyone is on the same page to ensure a smooth transition.

In terms of offboarding the old team, you'll want to make sure that all of their access is revoked in a timely fashion. This includes everything from email accounts to tools. It's also important to change any passwords that they may have had access to.

Summing it up

A software handover is a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. By following the software project handover checklist we provided, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you've done everything you can to set the new team up for success.