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How to Write Amazing Handover Documents
What to Include in Delighting Handover Documents When Handing Over Your Job
Whether you leave a company or take on a new job in your current company: Writing a good handover document is a good chance to ensure a smooth passing of the baton and leaving a great last impression. It may be required by your boss, but I suggest you write such a document in any case—your successor will thank you later.
Contents of the Document
You need to equip your successor with the tools to conquer the software product management realm. So, let's dive into the essential ingredients for a top-notch handover document!
The Big Picture: Begin your document by providing a concise summary of the product, its purpose, and its key features. Paint a vivid picture that captures the essence of what you've been working on. Remember, your successor might be a stranger to your product! It is not only features that are important, but also user goals and purposes.
Ongoing Projects and Developments: List any current project and development initiative that is currently running. Provide all the info your successor needs to jump right in.
Roadmap and Future Plans: Share any roadmaps and strategic plans. A well-documented roadmap will give your successor a head start!
Stakeholders: Identify and list all the key stakeholders involved—be it the development team, marketing folks, or the finance department. Include their roles and any special considerations for each. This section will be your successor's compass, ensuring they know who to engage with to keep the wheels turning smoothly.
Documentation: Let's be honest: Documentation is the unsung hero of the software world. Don't leave your successor stranded on a desert island without the treasure map. Share links or provide access to important documents such as user manuals, technical specifications, and design guidelines.
Tools and Technologies: Every software product manager has their secret arsenal of tools and technologies. Reveal your weapons of choice and provide a rundown of the tools used for project management, communication, and collaboration. Don't forget to include any access credentials, best practices, and quirks that your successor should be aware of.
Known Issues and Workarounds: The software world is a wild jungle filled with hidden bugs and mischievous gremlins. Save your successor from getting lost in the thorny thickets by documenting any known issues and their workarounds. Trust me, they'll thank you for shining a light on those dark corners.
Lessons Learned: Don't let your hard-earned lessons go to waste. Share your insights, successes, and failures.
Personal Touch: Last but not least, add a personal touch to your handover document. Share your team’s favorite memes, or inside jokes that have shaped your time in the role.
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Don’t write a Word document like it’s 1996. Use any kind of collaborative document. Tools like Confluence, Notion, OneNote, Coda, Basecamp or even Miro are useful. These tools make the content easily sharable and updatable. If you do a good job, the handover document may even become a team playbook after a while!
Use hyperlinks whenever possible. That way, you can make it easy to your successor to find the help they need. Link inside the document, but also to any outside information in other tools.
Structure the document well. A good structure helps a lot to find the right information quickly. Provide an overview at the beginning in the form of a Table of Contents. Of course, the table should also contain links to the respective section of your handover document.
Don’t strive for brevity. This is the one document that contains all the information for you successor. If you structure it well, he or she will be thankful for any additional information that you include. The document may become long but more useful.
In conclusion, creating a useful handover document is not just a mundane task; it's an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy and set your successor up for success.
As you embark on your new journey, take the time to craft this valuable document. Put on your explorer's hat and imagine yourself guiding your successor through uncharted territory, armed with knowledge and a sense of adventure.
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What I read
This is separate section of this newsletter. I will list some of the best articles I read on the internet. They may or may not be related to the topic of this article. I will keep a list of the best articles (currently >650) at https://www.digital-product-management.com. These are today’s picks:
Product-led Growth for Sales-Led Guide: An extensive guide on how to introduce PLG to a sales-led company.
How to Use Data to Optimize Your Product Strategy: Maximizing Product Success Through Effective Metric Utilization
Software Architecture Canvas: An Efficient and Collaborative Way to Define Your Software Architecture Playground
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