Project Everest

Reducing handover clutter using a BMC template

Corey Middleton
Corey Middleton | Feb 19, 2018 | in Discussion forum

Streamlining handovers and improving global project operations

Credit also to Jonathan Liondis (would not upload from his account)

Please see example of the spreadsheet in the images below. as well as how to use it. 


The length and number of documents in handovers is daunting, and the absence of linkages between documents discourages exploration of useful concepts and information. Additionally, the lack of standardisation in handovers makes it difficult to teach new Trekkers how to navigate and get the most out of the handover packages.

Overall Intent:

-          Cut down recommendations which are rarely followed by next month’s anyway

-          Collate all business information within TWO documents rather than many

-          Increase BMC literacy of new trekkers

-          Guide understanding of how testing key BMC assumptions is critical to determining next actions and testing validity of the business

-          Standardise handover process

-          Archive past-attempts at business development ideas to reduce double-handling

 Refining the official business plans to walk through the BMC sections and their intent may assist with Trekker induction, however we see the greatest potential for change lying in the increased use of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) Spreadsheet. The BMC makes a lot of sense as the basis for handover procedures: First, it can be made familiar enough to everyone at Trekker Training and it exists for every project in some capacity or could be applied to every project and business. Additionally, it’s both a visual and linguistic form of communication, which should increase engagement with the content.

 Looking at the BMC, a new Trekker should be clearly able to identify what assumptions about the business have and haven’t been tested and verified. This will allow them to choose next action which will enable untested assumptions to be tested. Each segment of the BMC will be detailed as an individual sheet within a spreadsheet as depicted below.

 This sheet is divided into:

-          Key Assumptions

-          Subtasks

-          Tested Y/N

-          Comment

-          Link/Stakeholder

S     Suggested Next Actions

 See how it is used below

 The spreadsheet will still be complemented with specific SOP’s needed for the team to function, as well as the business plan. However, this structure will be easier to replicate when next teams write their own handover packages. Additionally, standardising handover procedures across countries will enable Trekkers to be taught how to read their handover documents at Trekker Training whilst they are taught about BMC’s.

Key Considerations:

-          Archive spreadsheet which is automatically populated based on inputs from the ‘current state’ spreadsheet. Will allow past-decisions to be tracked and avoid double ups

 -          Colour coding for projects with multiple teams to ensure teams focus on assumptions specific to them

 -          A single customer database will significantly improve the effectiveness of this idea

  -          Training trekkers on how to use the BMC as a tool to guide next actions and work towards testing the big picture of the business. 

Beyond aiding the handover processes, making BMC’s the focus at the beginning and end of project months will help guide the work of on-project Trekkers towards realising the success and growth of each business. For the big chiefs back at the Sydney office, having a standardised method of assessing which stage each project around the world is at should yield a number of important benefits. Including better targeted assistance to projects that might be a bit slower at validating some of the BMC assumptions, or for highlighting to potential investors where each project is in its development.

 Will many linkages to other documents from the BMC spreadsheet yield the same results as previously? Is a new Trekker easily and proficiently able to work from this structure, both at the beginning and throughout the month? 


 We’ve only just started to scratch the surface of this idea and we’d love to hear every piece of feedback you have on how to improve the handover process!

edited on Feb 19, 2018 by Corey Middleton

Christina Gell Feb 20, 2018

Hey POC/FarmEd! SoCon right now is facing the same challenge - transferring a lot of a data to an unknown group of people. I really like the idea of having sections of the business in different tabs, and having dot points that convey the most essential data.

My main concern for this type of logging is the use of the BMC itself. I think it is essential to remember who is going to have to comprehend this type of document. It is not always going to be business students, nor will it be people even familiar with a BMC model apart from what they are exposed to at training. This concept of "key assumptions" and "testing" parts of the BMC - although very much needed - may not be understood.

Considering this type of document is very much a first touch point for those coming onto project, how are you going to frame it so the structure of the BMC is understood from the very beginning?

Reply 1

Corey Middleton Feb 21, 2018

Valid point Chris!

I am vouching for trekker training to be the place where this learning is conducted.

Rather than the group-wide business chat, split into projects, and address the BMC specific to your team. Specifically, the process would be 1) What the BMC is 2) What is is used for 3) how to read the BMC 4) How to use the BMC to guide project direction 5) How does this work on the spreadsheet

Reply 0

Ryan White Feb 20, 2018

Sounds like a good idea and will be interested to see the final product from your team. I just have a couple questions to get a better handle on the whole concept.

From how I read it - it is just an additional handover document that allows students to learn of the past decisions the teams have made so that they don't make the same mistake? I feel like this isn't the case and I'm just interpreting it wrong.

You said that all business information will be collated in two documents rather than many but for a project that is in its end state there is a huge amount of information that needs to be delivered in all aspects of the business. ERS, for example, needs an SOP for customer interaction, staff, processing payments etc. At the end of the document, you mentioned that SOP's would compliment the business plan and this spreadsheet so just wanted some clarity on this.

What about projects that are in their initial state and don't actually require a fleshed-out business model? How does this compliment that?

It may be a weird thing to say, but although I love me a good spreadsheet, a lot of people don't enjoy reading off a spreadsheet and much enjoy a word document. Word documents are also 100000x easier to print off and formalise by converting to a pdf for official handover purposes. Have you thought of a way to combat people being disinterested by spreadsheets and also the ease of printing? I know they are two minor points but half the trekkers here in Timor have the previous month's handovers printed out for reference.

Reply 2

Corey Middleton Feb 21, 2018

Cheers Ryan,

First things first the handover folder under this system might include:
- 1x digital BMC
- 1 x BMC Spreadsheet (visual display of confidence in key business assumptions and roadmap to supporting docs)
- any SOP required for team operation. eg DATA COLLECTION SOP (this would be linked in the key resource assumption 'AG DATA' 'FINANCE DATA
- 1 x short business plan (sub-headings are BMC sections and explain the how,why,what of the spreadsheet)

For a project in its assessment stage, I dont see this as a method that will work. However, it usually is not long before the BMC begins to be populated with assumptions and as soon as this point is reached the process for this method should begin

As for the Doc. V Spreadsheet I agree 100% of the way.
There will still be a supporting business plan. and specific SOP's required, The spreadsheet provides a roadmap to all supporting documents or info, but primarily it is a visual display of how 'tested' the business is. and how confident we should be in moving particular aspects forward.

I cannot combat disinterest, but we can inform on significance at trekker training in team time as well as help how to read it. As it stands, how often to trekkers read the docs prior to country anyway?

Reply 0

Ciaran Hoare Feb 20, 2018

A large question here is why future months wont follow future recommendations set by current teams. To me this is an issue and either flags that a) current team is on the wrong track or b) future TL/team isn't across the project to date and therefore will take it in a new direction (useful or not). What are your thoughts on the discrepancies we have between months?

To me often times a handover or business plan will attempt to convey every piece of information, which when read and understood means that someone new understands context, but it never explains next actions and next steps. I've recommended that TLs in Cambodia make a week 1 plan for the next month. If this method seeks to allow people to pick up actions on leading into the month, then I'm all for it.

Additionally - Bronte, Doug, Eddie what are your thoughts on this vs. your drive layout and SOP?

Reply 3

Corey Middleton Feb 21, 2018

More than simply not follow, I think it is the second option. It would require asking more people for their experience, but from asking around only a little, it seems that no team is ever happy with the previous month's handover document. Everyone always thinks they can do better because no team ever takes the time to digest the handover properly.

What then happens is that recommendations are followed at first, but teams tend to quickly pivot away from the larger set of recommendations placed by the team prior.

The way around that seems to be to provide more overarching recommendations in the form of tested and untested elements to the business. Regardless of how this is written, it might look like: "individual farmer customer segment" > "are seeking greater agricultural knowledge" > "currently untested" > "suggest looking to confirm or deny this assumption

Leaving it to the next team to determine how and why they verify that assumption versus outlining next steps in any detailed manner.

I see this as a way to move towards a more complete set of next actions for the entire business rather than a week 1 plan or a "3 most important task"

It should mean that teams can look at what is not tested, and select those areas with which they are most comfotable. For instance a technical team may want to verify that a chatbot is a customer relationship tool by building an MVP chatbot and experimenting.

Business plans are excellent for sourcing additional information but to me they do not paint a big picture of the overall business and at what point we can say confidently that the proposed business will be viable.

Appreciate the feedback

Reply 0

Doug Radford Feb 21, 2018

Only speaking from the one month of TL experience, though I found talking with Bronte (and having Eddie involved) before my month of leading was by far the most valuable, and grounding, activity during prep. Past Handovers, files and Business plans were useful to provide information RE project context but when it came to actually understanding project context it was the TL phone calls that made the difference, where every little question and idea could be bounced around. A simple example might be that in Cambodian ERS handovers it seemed to often be conveyed that Adjays might be an untapped existing network of waste collectors that can easily be accessed - whereas in my first chat with Bronte it was pretty easy to find out that this was not the case (unless this has changed).

I'm not sure how what Eddie's thoughts on this are but we had even more communication before, during and after handover (obviously disregard the project change)

Consequently I'd then say that drive layout (while I personally much appreciated and tried to adhere to Bronte's superb organisation), is less important then we might assume. I love time efficiency and standardisation of filing methods etc, though I think that drive-level standardisation is risks denying new ways of thinking (having a contact and relevant files listed within community contacts or business contacts may greatly alter how a new trekker views the relationship and it's potential).

Maybe the trouble with presenting recommendations in the document is that recommendations are exactly that, are are meant to be a discussion, not words on paper. Creating a section for recommendations probably forces teams to guess/predict what their next steps would be (probably through assuming smaller intermediate steps are successful) and takes away from that discussion as people who are reading the document assume more thorough thought went into those recommended actions.

Reply 0

View all replies (2)