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Successful handover of your projects

A relaxed holiday with the knowledge that your project is in good hands

With the right project handover, you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest

Your holiday is approved, the hotel is booked and the suitcases are packed – but you are worried about what will happen to your important project in your absence? Of course, your project should not stand still during your holiday. Tasks should be completed and the project should progress as planned to avoid problems afterwards. We explain how an optimal holiday handover ensures a smooth project flow during your absence.

1. Determine a deputy

Your tasks should be taken over by a representative during the holiday period. While in most departments of a company there is a clear regulation of who is represented by whom, this is not always the case with project work. Rather, projects need a deputy who, if possible, is already familiar with working on projects and with your specific project. This way you avoid critical mistakes happening in your absence due to lack of knowledge. Therefore, it may make sense to appoint someone from your project team as a representative. If your desired deputy does not have enough time to take over all your tasks due to his or her own duties, you can also appoint several deputies for different areas of responsibility.
In any case, it is important that you communicate tasks and responsibilities clearly within your project team.


2. Hand over the project

Create an overview of the current status of your project. This should also include the following points:

  • current open tasks and issues
  • typical problems
  • priorities and postponed tasks
  • important dates and milestones
  • current risks
  • guidelines for meetings, processes and documentation
  • contact persons and responsibilities

This list will help you with the actual holiday handover. Take the time to inform your holiday representative about the project in detail and explain what you expect from them. Hand over the previously prepared overview so that your deputy can check at any time during the leave whether the project is still on the right course and whether all important points have been taken into account. However, you should also trust in the abilities of your holiday representative: It is not necessary that you plan every process down to the smallest detail. At the same time, you should also use the project handover to plan a date for the return of the project. This way you can take over your project again in a relaxed way after your return and get all the important information from your representative.

You should consider the following points when handing over the project:

  • Structure the handover: This will ensure that the most important points will continue to have focus during your absence and this will give your holiday backup a clear view on the priorities.
    A clear structure also helps you to pass on all the required information in an understandable and transparent way.
  • Keep knowledge in your mind: Your deputy is a member of your project team? Great, because then you only need to explain the most important topics that should be taken care of. If, however, your counterpart is not so familiar with your project or project management, you should explain everything in more detail.
  • Select tasks: In order not to overburden your representative, it makes sense to only hand over the tasks that absolutely have to be done during the holiday period. Keep in mind that your deputy also has his or her own tasks to complete and will not be very happy if he or she is exclusively occupied with your tasks. Therefore, postpone smaller, currently less important tasks until you return from your holidays.
  • Check authorisations: Before handing over your project, clarify whether your representative already has all the necessary authorisations to be able to perform the tasks in your absence. These can be digital access rights, such as to drives, e-mail boxes or your project in the project management software, but also general authorisations, such as signing permissions. If important permissions are missing, you should take care of them before your leave and inform your holiday deputy about these new permissions.
  • Answer questions: Take enough time to answer any questions your holiday representative may have and ask if there is any need for clarification. This way you can make sure that all important points have been understood by your counterpart.

When compiling the necessary information for the holiday handover, a project management software can provide you with valuable services. You can use it to keep track of the whole project as well as individual tasks. Important deadlines are listed as well as possible risks. You can also store documents and information on individual tasks. This is not only a helpful function for holiday handovers. Rather, it is also useful if your deputy notes down important information during your absence, so that you can quickly overview the current status of your project when you return.


3. Inform stakeholders

Your holiday representative and your project team already know everything they need to know. Now you should inform all other stakeholders about your absence and your holiday replacement. To avoid misunderstandings and annoyances, internal departments, project partners, customers or suppliers should know who they can contact during your absence and when you will return. Do you have several representatives during the holiday period? Then compile a list with the contact details of all relevant contacts and send this list to the stakeholders.


4. Prepare the workplace

Especially before longer absences, the last days in the office are usually very hectic. However, you should still invest some time in preparing your workplace.

  • Complete open tasks: Have you been putting off small, less important tasks or things you don’t like to do for a long time? Then you should take the time now to complete these tasks. This way you won’t have a guilty conscience during your holiday and you won’t have an unnecessarily long list of tasks to do when you return.
  • Prepare your inbox: If you still have unread emails and open requests, this would be a good time to take care of them. After your return, there will certainly be a large amount of new messages waiting to be read and answered. However, if your inbox is tidied up before your holiday, the number will seem smaller and less overwhelming. You can also take this opportunity to set an out-of-office note in your e-mail programme.
  • Redirect your phone: Before you leave the office the night before your holiday, be sure to redirect your phone to your deputy. It is recommended not to be available for queries during your leave so that you can recover in the best possible way. If your project is in a critical phase, however, you can give your deputy your contact details. In this case, you should define exactly when you may be contacted and for which issues, in order to prevent your phone from ringing off the hook and you being called for trivial matters.
  • Tidy up: Surely you don’t want to come back to a chaotic workplace. Therefore, it helps if you tidy up your desk before your leave. Since a lot of mail may accumulate on your desk during your absence, not only will your colleagues appreciate a tidy desk, but you will also be happy about it when you return. So do the filing, put away used dishes and wipe your desk clean.
  • Our advice: To avoid mail and documents collecting in a disorganised way on your desk, you can set up different filing baskets, for example for urgent documents or documents for information. This will help you to get a quick overview of the most important items after your holiday.


5. Enjoy your holiday

Even if it is sometimes difficult: Your holiday is there to relax and that is exactly what you should use it for. So you should not be reachable by phone or e-mail and you should not constantly check or answer your messages. In all likelihood, not everything will go exactly as you would have wished during your absence. However, since you have made an excellent holiday handover, you can relax and trust that your representative and project team will do a good job.


The time before the holiday with the project handover is usually quite stressful. There is a lot of planning and communication to be done. Besides, not everyone likes to hand over their project, even if it is only for a short time. With the right preparation, however, you can hand over your project to a competent representative, enjoy your holiday and then return to your project refreshed.

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