Switching software development vendors is par for the course for many companies. Handing off your project to a new team is a massive task that requires a well-rounded project transition plan from one vendor to another. In this post, we will take a look at the “what”, “who” and “how” of this stage of your project.
Key aspects of a knowledge transfer plan
What is a knowledge transfer plan in software development? In broad strokes, it’s a document that entails a step-by-step plan for transferring information about a project from the previous software development team to the team that is going to inherit the project. It may include such details as terminology, roles, priorities, time frames, and so on.
Who participates in creating a project transition plan from one vendor to another? There are several key roles involved in generating a knowledge transfer plan:
- The project’s stakeholders;
- Vendors of development teams;
- Key experts (developers, QA, DevOps, UX/UI designer, business analyst, etc);
- A tech lead;
- Team members.
Stakeholders are typically at the helm of transitioning the ownership of the project to a new vendor, including such elements as critical data, Intellectual Property Rights, code base, and legal agreements with a previous provider. It’s a common practice to involve legal and finance departments to discuss relevant aspects of a knowledge transfer plan.
In the project transition plan from one vendor to another, the main roles are played by the key experts on the side of your previous vendor and your new vendor: Solution architects, tech leads, developers, project managers, delivery managers, business analysts, DevOps and Quality Assurance specialists, UX/UI experts, and other roles. The previous experts’ task is to inform the new team about the code base, environments, algorithms, and classes, as well as the workflows, key guidelines, and documentation. When transferring knowledge between experts, it’s important to arrange meetings with people in the same roles. So, be sure these aspects are included in your knowledge transfer checklist.
While the initiative can be spearheaded by the tech leads and people in key roles, the involvement of all team members plays a great role as well. You should ensure the team members on both sides are informed about their tasks and responsibilities during the knowledge transfer process.
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How to implement your project transition plan from one vendor to another? Knowledge transfer requires an ongoing dialogue between the two sides. Thus, besides creating thorough documentation and establishing a separate process, you need to schedule regular meetings. Each meeting should have a clear agenda and result in documentation of the information transferred during that meeting. When it comes to a knowledge transfer plan in software development, it may include the following approaches to pass on the knowledge:
- Reviews of tech documentation and guidelines;
- Training sessions for the team that inherits the project;
- Face-to-face meetings between team members;
- Interviewing experts.
Another crucial part of your project transition plan from one vendor to another is to create your knowledge storage. Ideally, it should be a solution that provides vast capacity and various access options, for example, user view, admin view, etc. No matter the solution you choose, ensure access to all team members and keep it up-to-date.
How much time the process of knowledge transition will take? Obviously, the more complex your project is, the more time it will take to integrate a new team. When it comes to timing, it’s up to you to define the deadline. For example, you can develop a knowledge transfer plan where team members share knowledge for a few hours per day for a month. Alternatively, your team can be involved in this task on a full-time basis. In any case, it’s best to approach knowledge transfer as any other project: Divide it into chunks and assign time frames to each one.
Knowledge transfer checklist: Steps
Step 1. Preparing
Before you dive into developing a project transition plan from one vendor to another, take time to analyze the inner workings of the software development process. It’s a common scenario when the new team rushes to start the project only to realize they lack crucial pieces of information, eventually facing an obstacle course and bottlenecks of all sorts. You may overcome this if you join efforts with your current team to prepare a well-rounded knowledge transfer checklist. During the preparation stage, define the role of each team member in the knowledge transfer process and their responsibilities, and emphasize the importance of ensuring the new team is well-versed in the project after the transition process is over.
Step 2. Assigning experts
What roles are necessary for transferring and inheriting the project? Defining roles is a core element of your project transition plan from one vendor to another. Based on data collected during step one, you can assign experts who will be responsible for knowledge transfer and knowledge receiving. As we mentioned earlier, not only should project owners participate in it but also team members. As a stakeholder, you should be aware of their key areas of responsibility, priorities, and possible challenges. A good practice is to mention these aspects in your knowledge transfer checklist.
Step 3. Creating a knowledge transfer document for your IT project
Documenting the software development process in detail is essential, as it will be the kick-off point for implementing your project transition plan from one vendor to another. When it comes to knowledge transfer documents for an IT project, it’s best to begin with writing definitions of commonly used terms and outlining the workflows without diving into detail. As soon as those are on paper, your assigned experts can dive deeper and add any details they deem necessary. When documenting workflows, a specialist has to keep in mind that whoever accesses and uses the document will be following it step-by-step. Thus, it should be accurate and self-explanatory as much as possible.
Step 4. Implementing your knowledge transfer plan
With a knowledge transfer document for your IT project and assigned experts in place, time to schedule meetings to put your knowledge transfer plan into action.
Following your plan, your new team sets up a development environment and obtains access to the systems. A marker of a good project transition plan from one vendor to another is an unimpeded software development process after knowledge transition and the team’s ability to accomplish goals and tasks without having to seek assistance outside knowledge transfer storage.
Step 5. Measuring the success of your new team
The results of knowledge transition tend to show in the long run. If the process is completed and your new team is struggling (foiled deadlines, drops in performance, overtime), it is possible that an ineffective knowledge transfer plan is where the shoe pinches.
On the other hand, if your new team meets your expectations and achieves their goals, it’s an indicator of a solid project transition plan from one vendor to another.
Many businesses plan to expand their teams after they have switched vendors. Contact us if you are looking to grow your software development unit with skills you lack on-site. Our access to a vast pool of software engineers in Eastern Europe and Latin America allows us to augment tech teams in as little as 2-6 weeks. Let’s connect.