A project kick-off meeting is a launch meeting before a project starts. Such meetings help introduce the team members, set goals, and make cooperation transparent. Of course, as long as the meeting is held correctly.
This meeting should define the main elements of the project and other planning activities. It introduces the project team members and the client to the project and provides an opportunity to discuss the role of each team member. Other key elements of the project involving the client can also be discussed at this meeting (timing, frequency, and format of progress reports, etc.).
What is the purpose of a project kick-off meeting?
The main purpose of a project kick-off meeting is to define the expected roles and contributions of various stakeholders.
It also attempts to clarify the risks and problems that may arise, especially those that may affect the project schedule and the customer's satisfaction. This is precisely the time when stakeholders can report directly on any assistance that they may require during project implementation.
How long should a project kick meeting be?
In the case that the manager cannot organise a meeting for all team members, at least one representative from each unit should be invited.
It is not uncommon for managers to hold several kick-off meetings, both internal for employees and external, together with the customer. The optimal length of the meeting is one hour, and it's not necessary to prolong the meeting, as the attention of the participants will be dissipated.
6 Main steps to follow during a project kick-off meeting
#1. Getting to know each other
Introduce yourself and ask participants to do the same. This is important, especially when specialists are not acquainted with each other. What can I say? Basic information:
- first name,
- last name,
- function in the company.
The role of everyone in the project will be clarified later.
#2. Agenda of the meeting
If you don’t want to waste anybody’s time, it is better to set the project kickoff meeting agenda and to decide from the very beginning in which order you will discuss the project, when you ask questions, etc. Meetings of this type are not monologues. You need the whole team to be involved.
Tip: keep a record of the meeting. Normally, the project manager or, less frequently, the party initiating the meeting or project sponsors, should make sure that all key thoughts, questions, answers, tasks, and ideas are recorded. It is also called a meeting report, meeting minutes, or contact report. The document may have an absolutely random format, the main thing being that it is easy to perceive, concise, and understand.
#3. Project core and team goals
To make sure that every participant is familiar with the details of the project, it is advisable to give the project a summary and mention project goals. It is important for employees to understand why they will do a certain job. You will have specialists from different fields, so it is necessary to specify :
- common goals,
- goals by area,
- goals by group, etc.
Describe the result you are waiting for.
#4. Project stages description
Divide the project into several stages, each of which must have its own outcome and an exact completion date. Report on processes that can be carried out in parallel, to organise the most efficient work of all team members.
This way, you avoid situations where an employee has waited for the end of a previous process and has not started work, losing a lot of time.
Tip: establish control points to be reported by each employee. This may include the following:
- implementation status of the project,
- compliance with the schedule,
- adherence to the established budget,
- working atmosphere in the team,
- a summary of the result of the work done,
- issues arising in the course of project implementation,
- potential risks.
#5. Role and responsibility of each team member
One of the main goals of the kick-off meeting is to explain in detail who does what, in which groups employees unite and how they work with each other.
Make sure you take the contacts of each team member and tell them how they can communicate with each other. It is important for some people to have constant access to correspondence.
Tip: if you use special cloud-based software to manage projects, notify all the participants at the beginning, or decide together which tool you will use for the project management, communication, and information exchange.
#5. Evaluation of team performance
Determine how you will assess the performance of your employees. Explain which tasks are primary and which can be postponed if necessary.
#6. Planning follow-up meetings
By setting a schedule for future meetings, you can remind employees that there are clear deadlines to follow.
Tip: in the end of a project kick-off meeting, leave time for questions. After that, edit the meeting minutes listing all the steps and send them by email to all participants and those involved in the project (managers, colleagues, performers, etc.). Be sure to ask your colleagues or clients to read the details of the meeting minutes in the email and, if necessary, to comment on or supplement them.
You need to focus not so much on organising a beautiful and correct meeting in all senses, as on being able to carry out all the project kick-off meeting guidelines that you want to approve :
- If you have agreed on communications, hold meetings regularly, keep the time and format set.
- If you have agreed on roles in the project, require the new responsibilities to be met and give them the necessary authority.
- If the format and frequency of reports have been approved, ensure that they are submitted.
You need the rules that have been said to work, and you need the project to start immediately and bring the expected results.