How to Leave a Project

Written by lewsauder

April 23, 2014

leave a project

How to leave a project

According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary group activity designed to produce a unique product, service or result. Because of that, hopefully everyone who serves on a project, knows that they will eventually leave that project.

Most projects are not fully staffed for the duration. Nearly every project that I’ve seen has ramped up slowly, starting with only a few team members.  It ramps up, occasionally adding or changing staff as needed. Then, as the project ramps down, so does the staffing.  The bell-shaped curve follows its course through project closure.

I often have mixed emotions when I leave a project.  I like project work because of the variety of working on different projects. But you develop relationships with your team members, and moving to another project usually means cutting those ties with at least a few people on that team.  It’s easier today to maintain communication with people through social media and other technologies, but nothing replaces the intimacy of seeing people in person every day.

Whether you are the project manager or a team member, as you roll off of a project, it is important to make sure that you leave on good terms and the remaining team is able to function in your absence.

So when you roll off your next project, consider these tips before you leave.

For more information, checkout Career Management Tips for Project Managers

Identify at least one person to transfer your knowledge. It will work best if this person is your replacement and is filling the same role.  It should at least be someone who is familiar with the project and will be available after you leave to answer questions anybody at the client may have.

Load all of your project information in a document repository.  Make sure you upload any documentation that rightfully belongs to the business in their standard repository. Some organizations use SharePoint or maybe a simple shared network drive. Just make sure to store whatever they may need in the future in an appropriate location.

Related post: Running Things as Projects

Document the knowledge transfer.  Write up a documented summary designating where important documents are stored along with the status of anything left undone.  Make sure any interested parties have reviewed it and know where to find it in the future.

Leave on good terms.  Even if you are leaving a project under bad circumstances, there is nothing to be gained by getting in the last word as you walk out the door.  Take the high road and don’t burn any bridges.

Bid them adieu.  On your last day, try to make the rounds and say farewell to the team.  It’s also good to send out an email to anyone you worked with.  Tell them that you’re moving on, that you’ve enjoyed your time working with them and leave your contact information.  Keep it brief.  Emotional goodbyes or getting a dig at management is not appropriate and will only reflect badly on you.

Return your security badge and any equipment or property that you were loaned for the project to the appropriate source.  This includes PCs or laptops you were given to use. Turn it back in to the issuing department and have them verify that it is still in workable condition.

Connect with your former teammates on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is one of the most powerful ways to maintain professional connections.  Linking In with them will insure you are accessible to each other in the future.

Sometimes a project roll-off is planned with ample preparation time.  At other times, it can be a snap decision by management.  In either situation, it is important to do everything in your power to ensure a smooth transition. Very few things will do more for your reputation as a project manager or as a professional.

If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.

Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section.

Copyright 2014 Lew Sauder, Inc.

Lew’s Books at Amazon:

Project Management 101
Consulting 101
The Reluctant Mentor

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