As someone who obsesses about optimizing processes that support people and organizations, onboarding and transitioning are two things I think about for at least an hour a day. Lately, I was thinking specifically about when the ideal time is to start creating transition documents.
From observation and experience, it seems to be the case that starting to create your transition report after you give notice is way too late in the game (unless the role is a very simple one). If the notice was given 2 weeks (read 10 business days) before you leave, that actually doesn’t leave a lot of time for you to get everything documented.
Also: when your heart is elsewhere, it becomes very easy to half-ass everything at your current work. That includes your transition report. For this reason, starting to create your transition report when you make the decision to leave your current role is still not good enough. Although you may have much more time compared to the previous scenario depending on how much time elapses between the moment you decide to leave your role and when you officially give notice, the half-assing problem doesn’t go away. The moment your heart checks out, it becomes very difficult to put in the level of care you used to put into your work (back when you really cared about what you did at your current role). I’ve seen this with my predecessors, and I am guilty of this too.
So when is the best time to start the transition report? You start creating your transition report on the day you start in your new role. The secret is to not think of a transition report as something that becomes relevant only when you leave your role. A transition report is there to help YOU as well as your successor. The report exists so that you can do cognitive offloading - you don't need to constantly have everything in your head because it's also in the report. You can refer back to it if you forget something. It is your safety net and long-term investment.
You know all the notes you take when you start a new role and hike up that steep learning curve? (I hope you have those!) Do yourself a favor and combine all of them into a way that is presentable. Then you're doing two valuable things at once - you're setting your future self and your successor up for success :)
I'm Candice and I doodle with the intensity of the doomguy.