Whenever you’re getting ready to kickstart a new project, a kickoff meeting is a must. Kick-off meetings help you set out your common goals, align your project across the board, and understand the purpose of it all.
A well planned out project kickoff meeting agenda will help to bring both clients and teams together, looking closer at what needs to be achieved. It’s a chance for everyone to get to know each other and what they will be doing; all while finding ways to work together for an amazing end result
Planning a project kickoff meeting agenda can be confusing, especially if you don’t quite know where to start. Our easy-to-understand guide will help make things much simpler.
Heading into a project kickoff meeting with well laid-out plans will give you solid foundations for project success. A project agenda is a detailed plan of actions, guiding you from start to end. One of the most important aspects of a project kickoff meeting is client – team information.
You should try to provide as much information about the client as you possibly can. Dig deeper into who they are, what their brand message is, who to be aware of and what their goals are. The more information that you arm your project team with, the less likely they are to directly ask clients redundant questions.
Another factor to include is a focus on pulling your team together. While it’s likely you’ll have a variety of individuals with varying degrees of experience, you need to be able to create a level playing field. All input should be valuable, progressively driving the project to a successful outcome.
Ultimately, your agenda should instil confidence in every single team member, leaving no question unanswered. Give them the tools they need to nail the project, not fail the project.
While each project is different, there are ten basic foundation steps to cover. These are universal and can be used to create an awesome kickoff plan – regardless of the project type.
If you’re bringing new people into your client project team, kick-start the meeting with a brief member introduction. You don’t want to waste too much time with overly detailed intros. To help keep things on track, the following are usually more than sufficient:
As you’ll finish your meeting with a Q&A session, you can leave less important detail sharing until then. Setting the project tone now will let everyone know efficiency and to-the-point action is required from beginning to end.
The success of every project relies on team members fully understanding who the client is, what they are looking for and how to achieve this. For many project team members, clients are often seen as those who can at times derail project progress with misaligned goals and outcomes, getting in the way of what they believe is the way forward.
Some things to always include when briefing your team about the client include:
By making all of this clear, you are giving the project team everything they need to work with the client, instead of against them. Business branding is heavily guarded by most clients, so keeping to their requirements is a must – even if you don’t always agree with their direction.
The project overview gives you a chance to inform all of the team members why the project is going ahead in the first place. You’ll look at this from three different angles:
From a client perspective, you’ll need to cover what it is that is driving the need for this project. What events have happened to bring it to life?
From a consumer perspective, it’s all about how the project will solve a problem or improve their life. Their experience should be the pivotal point the project is built on.
Project teams need to be able to look beyond just delivering the project on time, scope and budget. They need to know ways to excel and win the client over for resigning.
Project scope takes a closer look at the overall timeline. This is when you will review the statement of work, estimate and projected timeline. These all help explain the expected project flow, detailing a quick step by step plan of action and where it will take you.
If you’ve already worked on projects similar to this one, take the opportunity to explain them. How can past experience help with future growth? What risks should the team be aware of? What issues did you face and overcome?
When your team understands the constraints they are up against, it becomes easier to find alternative methods. It also ensures that everybody is on the same page and working together for the good of the common goal.
Once you have got the project scope out of the way, it’s time to discuss how you plan on making things happen. It’s a chance for you to explain your vision and what you think will work best for the client. Take a few minutes to ask for input from the team members and carefully consider what will provide actionable results.
During the planning direction stage, you’ll also want to create a sense of project ownership. People feel like they are in charge of a project, they are much more likely to achieve its goal. Ownership creates a sense of responsibility and liability, resulting in more drive and ambition.
Take a quick look at the client’s project goals. Explain how you intend to approach things. And engage the team, fishing for productive ideas to streamline the process.
By now, the project team should have a good understanding of what’s expected. They should know what the deliverables are and a rough idea of the timeline and schedule. Now it’s time to clarify what each member’s role will be.
During this stage, you will need to assign team leaders – while making sure nobody feels outranked or undervalued. Pick the right people for the right tasks. Assigning a design task to someone in accounting won’t go down well.
Bringing together a group of individuals who’ve never worked together before requires an understanding of how they will interact with each other. There are a few things to look at here, including;
Autonomy is a good thing when it comes to projects. While you, the project manager, will oversee everything; giving them breathing space can boost output. It all boils down to that sense of responsibility again.
The kick-off agenda should already be in place and ready to go. As the project manager, this should be one of your top priorities. Now is a good chance to run through the agenda with the team, getting them to engage on a deeper level with it.
Look for their feedback before setting anything in stone. You should also discuss any exercises that could help improve workflow. A few points to touch on include:
At the start of any project, confusion and a feeling of ‘plenty of time’ can lead to casual project kick-offs. Start as you mean to go on. Don’t let tardy behaviour slow things down.
Clarity goes a long way with making sure each member knows exactly what to get started with. Give them guidance, but don’t do everything for them. you should also make sure that deadlines are understood and adhered to.
A great way to keep up motivation is by rewarding the team whenever they achieve a milestone. This could be grabbing a bite to eat at lunch (your treat), a little bonus on payday or an hour extra for breaks.
It’s important to remember that a project manager is nothing without a solid team behind them. At the end of your project kickoff meeting, take ten minutes to get some feedback. It’s also a prime opportunity to answer any questions they may have, helping eliminate any potential confusion once the project begins.
Make sure you take all ideas on board, no matter how out there they may be. You never know when one crazy solution could save an entire project. Finish off by thanking everyone for joining and let them know you are there for them, no matter the issue.
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