Key Actions by:

Standard 6: Early transition and start-up planning (including pre-award).

Transition from the design/proposal team to the project start-up team and plan and conduct early start-up activities.

Organize CRS- and partner-level internal handover from the proposal team to the start-up/implementation team.

  • Why

    Weak or non-existent handover between staff who work on a proposal and staff who lead start-up and implementation can cause significant project management challenges. To effectively lead the project, members of the start-up team who were not involved in the project design process need a thorough understanding of the project’s operational requirements, as well as the rationale behind the project’s design and budget. Well-planned handover meetings are an opportunity to provide this important background.

  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Proposal transition manager (PTM) and project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)
      • The PTM and PM/CoP lead the handover process. Ideally, handover should be to the permanent PM/CoP. If there is an acting PM/CoP, the PTM hands over to that individual.

    • Others involved: Members of the proposal development team and start-up/implementation team
      • Other members of the proposal development team, including the technical lead, budget lead, human resources lead, MEAL lead, any procurement/supply chain management staff and ICT4D lead, share their insights into technical and operational issues and requirements that will impact project management with the start-up/implementation team.

    Continuity in proposal development and start-up implementation team membership is a best practice! Ensure as much overlap as possible between the project design/proposal development team and the team that will lead project start-up and implementation. This is the norm for CRS discretionary-funded projects. However, for many external funding opportunities, the proposal development team includes staff brought in temporarily. Teams for new projects may also include staff who were not working in CRS during proposal development. In such cases, bringing proposal and project start-up teams together is critical in orienting staff who were not part of the proposal development process to the key issues that arose and decisions made during design.  

  • When
    • The Handover Briefing (see below) should occur in the first week of the project manager's or chief of party's onboarding
    • The Handover Meeting (see below) should occur prior to the Validation Meeting and Start-up Workshop and as soon as possible following project approval once key members of the start-up/implementation team are in place

    For projects of more limited scope or complexity, it may be possible to cover Handover Meeting agenda items at the beginning of a project start-up workshop instead of organizing a separate meeting.

  • How

    Two-part handovers are good practice. Telescope the handover process as needed based on your specific project.

    1. Part I - Handover Briefing (PTM to PM/CoP): The PTM sets up a briefing with the PM/CoP, including other key staff as appropriate (e.g., country representative, head of programming, head of operations). The PM/CoP uses the agenda suggested in the Guide for the Handover Briefing (see Table 4 in the Proposal Handover Process Protocol and Checklist). During the briefing, the PTM:

    TIP: Focus on using handover discussions to capture the knowledge and insights of the proposal team regarding challenging programming and operations issues; the options and strategies that were considered to address them; and the rationale for decisions made. Review issues related to donor and partner relationships, too.

    1. Part II - Handover Meeting (team-to-team): The PTM and PM/CoP co-host a Handover Meeting between the proposal development team and project start-up/implementation team, using the agenda suggested in the Guide for the Handover Meeting (see Table 5 in the Proposal Handover Process Protocol and Checklist).

    TIP: Face-to-face discussions are always best. For teams spread across multiple locations (e.g., in the case of large proposals with extensive TDY support, and/or multi-country proposals), use carefully planned virtual meetings.

    During the Handover Meeting, the teams:

    • Review and discuss key programmatic and operations aspects of the proposal including project design; strategy; geographic and beneficiary targeting; deliverables; procurement plans; staffing plans; budget; and other key operations issues
    • Revisit the status of the early start-up plan
    • Ensure the start-up/implementation team is clear about their responsibilities for the remaining start-up activities

    The PM/CoP documents the key points from the handover discussions for the project team’s future reference.

    For projects with significant overlap between the proposal development and implementation teams: Instead of a formal team meeting, arrange for individual meeting(s) between the incoming project team member(s) and key members of the proposal development team, as part of their onboarding.

  • Partnership
    • The Handover Briefing is an internal CRS meeting; partner participation is typically not required. The Handover Meeting also typically focuses on handover between CRS teams, and in most cases, partners will not participate.
    • Although partners may not participate in the CRS-level handover, thorough CRS internal briefing and handover helps the CRS project team work more effectively with partners during start-up and implementation.
    • Even if partners do not participate in the CRS-level handover process, CRS can support them to organize a solid handover within their own teams. Formal partner-level handover is particularly important if the partner team that participated in proposal development and the team which will lead project start-up and implementation are significantly different. Share the CRS Guides for the Handover Briefing and Meeting with partners as helpful and appropriate.

    Keep partners updated: During the submission and approval process, be sure to update partners about the proposal status and changes in CRS personnel, including partners’ main point of contact. Inform partners when the PM/CoP is on board and if possible, formally introduce the PM/CoP before the start-up workshop.

  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Follow the same process when CRS is a sub-recipient. The PTM and proposal development team should focus on:
      • Final decisions by the prime during the proposal process that affected CRS’ scope and budget
      • The proposal development team’s understanding of the prime’s approach to the project and to managing sub-recipients.
  • Emergency projects
    • In some emergency projects, the proposal and implementation teams may be the same. If there is overlap between teams, handover is more rapid and may be done on an individual basis as new staff join the team.  
    • Emergency project budgets may include multiple donors with different requirements. Carefully brief any incoming team members on such requirements.