5 Ws for a successful health IT contract transition

Between finalizing your end-of-year client contract, planning for your next contract, and preparing for the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, this time of year can be hectic for health IT consultants. As your contract approaches its end date, now’s the time to be making a list and checking it twice to ensure a smooth transition for both you and your client.

I'd like to share a few questions to ask yourself when making your contract transition checklist. Whether you’re new to the consulting world or you’ve been at this for a while, these questions should serve as a helpful reminder this time of year. I’ve applied the same “Five W's” (and one H) method to guide my own off-boarding with clients. The goal is to make sure you and your client team are prepared heading into the end of your contract, ensuring everyone has what they need to successfully transition responsibilities.

1. Who’s involved in the knowledge transfer?

Nick Davis headshot_webWhen transitioning your work over to the client team, it’s helpful to sit down with the team manager to create a list of individuals who will be part of the knowledge transfer process. This list should include

  • Who was involved in key decisions?
  • Who you will be transferring knowledge to?
  • Who will own your projects going forward?

In addition, at Nordic, we complete an Engagement Completion Summary to concisely and effectively prepare our client partners for a consultant transition. This important document contains all the information the client team needs to be successful after you’ve completed your time with them. Before the end of your contract, you will want to meet with your client team manager to review this document and make sure they have everything they need to keep the project work going.

2. What’s the contract status?

Well in advance of your last day onsite, you’ll want to put together a report for the client that lists key tasks and the status of these tasks. It’s important for this list to be as comprehensive as possible, including tasks that were completed during your contract and those that are still in progress. Here are some key questions to ask yourself when developing this status report:

  • What projects have we completed to date?
  • What are we currently working on?
  • What will need to be completed after I roll off?
  • What potential complications should the client team be aware of?

Make sure to build in some time to review this report with your team manager. That way, you can address any questions they may have about the status of the contract and tasks.

3. Where are key documents saved?

Odds are, throughout the course of the contract you’ve developed several important documents that the client team may need to access once you leave. To avoid having the client spend valuable time searching through databases to find these documents, map out where in the system these important documents live. Make a list of where you saved your decision documents, build trackers and other transition documents, and review it with the client team.

4. When will you make the handoff?

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to schedule handoff meetings. This will likely entail a series of meetings to review the contract details, status reports, and other key transition documents discussed above with the responsible parties on the client team. There will be multiple schedules to coordinate, so try to get these meetings on the calendar sooner rather than later.

In addition, keep in mind that the holidays and associated time off can make it tricky to coordinate schedules. Don’t wait until your last week to schedule the handoff meetings, only to find out that a key member of the client team is out of the office until after you leave. Again, try to plan these handoff meetings as early as possible.

5. Why did you make certain decisions?

This question may not require a checklist or documentation, but it’s important to keep top-of-mind as you off-load the work to the client team. During your handoff meetings, you'll want to demonstrate your rationale for making certain decisions. That way, the client team will have a deeper understanding as to why you implemented certain functions or workflows. For example, if all scheduling departments but one jump to registration, you should explain why a different workflow makes sense for that one department.

6. How does your build work?

A main part of the contract transition will also involve working with the client team to show them how your build works. This is a key objective of your knowledge transfer. The responsible parties will need to know how the build is put together to help avoid or fix potential complications in the future.

While you’re in the midst of succession planning, hopefully it helps to take a step back and ask yourself these planning questions. Throughout the entire transition, remember to keep up communication with your client team. You’ll want to ensure they feel like they’re getting the support they need during this time.

Last, the uncertainty of not knowing what your next project will be or when it will start can be intimidating. However, it is a unique opportunity that you won't find in most other career fields. If you have downtime, make the most of it. Unwind and reflect on your last project. Appreciate not having to pack a suitcase, not having to work in a different time zone, and not having to snap a picture of your itemized receipt after every meal.

Enjoy quality time with your friends and family. Get things done around the house. Volunteer. Explore a new hobby or three. Through it all, remember that just because there's nothing on the horizon today, doesn't mean it will be that way forever. You'll be back in the thick of things before you know it. 

And if you're looking for tips and insights on preparing for your next engagement, check out this blog post about what the best health IT consultants do at the end of the their contracts. It offers some good advice on everything from updating your resume to connecting with your management team on what you'd like to pursue next.


Nick Davis is a senior Cadence analyst at Nordic. He has five Epic certifications and extensive experience in Technical Services for Cadence, Welcome, and Referrals. Nick helps client partners with new feature implementation, department moves, tablet rollouts, and workflow optimization.

Topics: Health IT, consulting tips

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