Kickoff means to start anything like a football match; as soon as a player kicks the ball from the center and the game starts, it can start a motorbike by kicking it up. Still, here in this article, we will discuss all kickoff meetings from a Project Management perspective.
A project kickoff meeting is one of the first meetings, including all the major stakeholders and the project team, including the project manager. The client or client representative and the project manager is must attend the meeting in any case, or else there is no use of it at all. They say, “The first impression is the last impression,” and hence this meeting will say it all that how the project will go on in the future.
A project kickoff meeting is held after contract documents are formally signed, overall budgeted cost, timelines for key milestones are finalized.
Normally, a kickoff meeting is held at the start of the project, but it can be held at any phase if required.
Well-defined project kickoff meeting agenda will engage the stakeholders on the same page and help you cover all points with ease.
Every project is temporary and unique in nature. Hence, no formal agenda will apply to all, but some common points are common in all the kickoff meetings.
First off all is the Introduction of all the majors like the Client, Project manager, Project brief, Overall Scope, WBS but not in detail, the reporting structure-important for communication, major roles, and representative.
Keep in mind it’s all about the Introduction only. The project manager needs to explain how he will achieve all this, and the Client can ask any concerned question.
On average, a core kickoff meeting time is around sixty-60 minutes. The breakdown is ten minutes for Introductions and briefs, ten minutes for a client and thirty minutes for the Project Manager and the team, and the last ten minutes for answers & questions from every side on any aspect of the project that may be missed earlier or need any clarifications.
In the end, make sure to ask the overall audience present if anything is missed that should have been discussed.
Benefits of Kick-off Meeting
As we all know that communication is the key to every successful project. The kickoff meeting serves this the best. Let see some major benefits of it in bullet points;
- You deliver the main objectives of the project here.
- All stakeholders, internal and external, got the opportunity to know each other, which further helps you effectively understand their interests.
- All the major risk factors are discussed, and hence being a project manager, you have others on board already. It will help to avoid a panic situation later on. You get full support of your decisions already here.
- Constraints are discussed to get a solution effectively.
- It helps the best to avoid conflicts among the stakeholders as all on the same page.
- Being a project manager, you see the tone, which helps you categorize the stakeholders differently.
- Mutual understanding among the project team is an x-factor of a kickoff meeting.
When is the Kickoff Meeting held?
This one of the most confusing questions I have come across as a PMP aspirant.
If your project is small, then it will happen at an initial stage ( Initiation ); that is it. May need not anymore on the other stage/s. It is most likely an introductory meeting to let the members know each other.
But as we know, we always need to consider a big project unless it is advised. Let see for a bigger project;
It happens when planning is completed for bigger projects, right after planning and before the execution stage. You can sit at the very start of the execution phase.
It can also happen as many times as required on the project, like before any phase or any major issue arises in the phase, and it can be called on multiple times in a phase – no harm.
This can be done face to face in a conference room, through the internet, like virtual conferences or hybrid ways.
Pitfalls during a Kickoff
A kickoff meeting is a part & parcel of project success as it sets the tone of how things will go ahead. It will help to unite the team that will improve communication among them.
1. Long Presentations – by Project Manager
If you are the Project manager, then make sure to construct your presentation on less than ten slides in any case, but it may differ from project to project. Also, make sure to take a printout for all the stakeholders present.
2. All Stakeholders have the same Project information – Never!
Stakeholders present at the kickoff meeting have different interests and hence have a different approach to the project. Hence make sure to structure your presentation that you cover all the important topics.
3. Don’t ignore your Team
If you got any question that was not already discussed in your internal kickoff meeting, then make sure to get your ream on the same page. Ask them to throw their point of view, and that will help you in the longer run. It will create a good impression overall in front of the client.
Everybody is on the same page and understands the overall project after that meeting. You got a nice and clean ground to play with your team. Let the players engage with each other, let them improve their passing, let them dribble – Coach them! Mentor them!