I knew this was coming, but I’m still nervous. I know the people on this project. I know the problems here. I know the code. I’ve done some pretty complicated and clever things with this team. But, I can read a calendar and I didn’t need a reminder to know that it’s time for me to move on to a new project.

Though I am nervous, I signed up for this.

At Mutually Human we rotate people through projects. Generally, if we’re working with a client for longer than six months they’ll work directly with several different people. We don’t pull everyone off of a project at once; it’s usually one or two people at a time that are replaced. To make that transition smooth, there’s also some overlap. We’ll give the team members leaving time to wrap up what they’ve been working on and the new team members time to get up to speed. These transitions usually last one or two weeks.

It’s a lot to take in at first. Clients understandably fear that they’re losing the experts they hired; it might feel like a bait and switch. But, even after the transition, we’re always around to help each other out. It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for someone to have helped out with the project before they were rolled on to it.

The clients really benefit from this rotation.

Planning to rotate people through the projects allows us to tailor our project staff to different needs at different times. The distribution of work in a project isn’t always even. At the beginning of a project, for example, it may be useful to have multiple people conducting user interviews and fewer people developing features which aren’t fully planned yet. Later, once the experiences are better understood, more engineers translating those needs into code may be beneficial. Rotation gives us a dial to tweak to then better serve our clients.

The transitions also allow us to practice handoffs. As consultants, we’re not going to always be working for a particular client. Eventually, we’ll hand over the project and all of its assets one last time. By doing these mini-handoffs, transitioning from one person to another on a project, we practice that skill. That way, everyone can be confident that the final hand off will go that much more smoothly.

This is also one way we can make sure to draw from all of the experience we have at Mutually Human. It doesn’t make sense for the entire company to work on a project at once. We want to leverage each team member’s unique viewpoint and valuable insights at the right time. By rotating people through projects, we benefit from all of those individual ideas and experiences in a practical way.

Everything that benefits the client, ultimately benefits us as well. We can provide a better product by tailoring our staffing. We can reduce the risk when we’re not involved in developing and supporting a product every day. We get to pull in the experience of more than just a few people, and we get to feed the new experiences into our future projects.

Rotating people through projects is one of the things that makes Mutually Human different. We’re curious people. We’re eager to work with new people, solve new problems, explore new technologies, and learn new domains. When the time comes to switch projects, it’s likely we’ve already done a lot of research and had more than one conversation about it. Satisfying that curiosity is what I get to do next.

Image credit: Kevin Redwood

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