March 13, 2024

Transition Plans vs. Handover Notes: What's the difference?

Minutes to read
Minutes to read

Many businesses use the terms transition plan and handover notes interchangeably. Although both can streamline employee transition periods, the two can have very different meanings and processes attached to them.

In this article, we'll explore the difference between a transition plan and a handover note and explain everything you need to know to create the best documents for your company.

Is a Transition Plan the same as a Handover Note?

When faced with a business change (for example, while doing an employee transition, dealing with external factors like emerging competitors or customer needs, or having to go through new team operations and shifts), you will want to ensure a smooth transition process for everyone involved. 

This is why most companies create thorough documents, such as transition plans and handover notes, to ensure the changes don't hamper daily tasks and operations. However, there are some differences between transition plans and handover notes, so let's take a closer look at when you should use each.

What is a Transition Plan?

A transition plan is a type of project handover document or set of documents that contain all the details, such as activities and processes someone (or a team) will need to follow to implement a good transition. It's a way of making sure nothing slips through the cracks.

This plan can vary slightly depending on the kind of shift that is going to take place. For example, if we're talking about a transitioning employee, a business owner change, or a re-shuffling of responsibilities within a company.

What are Handover Notes?

Handover notes, or a handover document, is a single record containing daily tasks, projects, schedules, upcoming events, and/or deadlines. Typically, handover notes are written by an outgoing employee for their successor and cover all the ongoing activities a new team member will need to keep in mind.

You can think of handover notes as a guide for the incoming person, informing them of the duties of the job and how to perform them.

A Transition Plan vs Handover Notes: One key difference

The main difference between a transition plan and handover note is that a transition plan goes further than describing a job and actually plots a path to upskilling their replacement over time. When someone receives it, they should be able to understand not just what their roles and duties are but also all the routines that involve other teams and activities. A handover note, on the other hand, is just a document. 

Getting the best of both worlds - the ultimate Handover Plan

Any organizational shift can be daunting at first, but if you follow these steps, you shouldn't have trouble navigating it.

The first step to creating a good transition plan is to understand how the knowledge will be shared to facilitate a smooth handover. A useful way to think about someone's duties and responsibilities is to list your recurring tasks. However, capturing this information is about determining routines which often include different teams, roles, activities, and processes. For instance:

  • Teams:
    Nobody works entirely on their own. A good transition details the team members involved in a project or business unit. It’s also a good idea to mention any specific ways of doing things (small processes and hints) and whether there are any outstanding issues that will need to be dealt with.
  • Roles:
    Your transition plan should always describe the Roles within these teams, who else is involved, and, whether there's any recommended training the new hire will have to undergo.
  • Projects and Activities:
    This is what would generally be included in a handover note. As we mentioned, a transition plan is more comprehensive, so activities are just one component. Your plan should always include typical activities, actions, events, and any related deliverables. You can also include risks to make the new employees aware of any potential issues, deadlines, etc.
  • Processes:
    Most, if not all, activities will include steps a team needs to take if they want to achieve an end. Processes can also require details surrounding risks, assets, and people.
  • A plan:
    Try to hold several meetings where your replacement can visualize the job that needs to be done, involving wider team members and even your client when appropriate. Make sure you walk them through the transition at a higher level first,  reviewing the lower levels once the basics are covered.

Many organizations dealing with employee transitions or structural changes choose to use a transition plan template (or handover plan template) as a blueprint to ensure all the relevant information and assets are included. These documents can be helpful for standardizing all critical details using a shared language, reducing errors, and saving time. Here's an example transition plan template you can use in your organization.

Want to transition like the best?

Although using a template is an excellent first step towards guaranteeing that all assets and knowledge remain protected and can be easily shared, there's an even better alternative to both transition plans and handover notes - in the traditional sense, at least. 

With imprend, you can simplify your handover process by capturing the entire context behind all work undertakings and presenting it in the form of teams, projects, roles, activities, and processes. The system  automatically converts textual information into hierarchical diagrams (hiagrams) that you'll be able to easily explore and share with others. Try imprend today and streamline your staff transition and handover. 

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