When someone changes departments, exits a project, delegates work assignments or even leaves the company, it's vital to continuity and productivity that there's a plan in place for handing off work-related responsibilities to someone else. The smoother the transition, the less potential downtime, lost revenue or confusion over responsibility. Don’t leave planning until the last minute -- the more time you create for the transition, the better.

Create a Timeline

Make a timeline for when the transition will take place. This lets the person currently handling the responsibilities wrap up current projects and develop a timeframe for completing transactions and tying up loose ends. This is especially important if handing off responsibilities involves transferring clients or performing critical functions essential to everyday operations.

Make a List

The person doing the delegating should make a list of responsibilities associated with the position, including ongoing daily tasks as well as responsibilities that are seasonal, annual or ad hoc in nature. It can be easy for someone delegating responsibilities to forget small details that are second nature to them. The list should be as detailed as possible and should include information such as essential contacts, resources, supply lists, deadlines, work files or codes for accessing more information -- even samples of past work products, if applicable.

Job Shadow

If time permits, have the person taking over responsibilities shadow the individual handing off the tasks. This allows for a back-and-forth exchange of information and lets the newcomer get a hands-on feel for how the responsibilities are handled. Ideally, make a gradual transition with some overlap to ensure no key steps are missed. If possible, use the opportunity to make introductions to others with assignments related to these tasks and responsibilities to help make the hand-off a smooth one.

Point of Contact

If it can be arranged, have the outgoing or delegating individual be available for a short period of time after the transition to help with troubleshooting and answering questions. If someone was terminated or left the company and this isn't feasible, assign a contact person, point person or manager for the individual taking on responsibilities to touch base with if problems arise. Check progress frequently to ensure the transition is going well and no critical tasks are being overlooked.