Project Kick Off Meeting
Project kick off meetings are a particular form of a project meeting. These are just another meeting that should follow good meeting practices.
The purpose of a kick off meeting is to energise the project team with a clear goal for the new project.
So how do you kick off a new project?
I would suggest an informal setting because many people may be meeting for the first time. A lot of the value in a project kick off meeting is the informal chats between attendees before the meeting starts, or at the coffee breaks. For this reason it is often useful to hold some sort of activity or workshop to get people talking about the project. this can also produce some useful planning outputs.
It is useful to have a senior manager or project champion present. All projects should lead to business benefit, and projects are the vehicle for an organisation to achieve its strategic goals.
One of the key reasons for the kick off meeting is to agree or define the project objectives. The meeting should make it clear what this project aims to achieve, and also what it will not achieve.
Project Kick Off Meeting Agenda
Communication needs to be planned into a project and not left to chance. The project kick off meeting sets a tone for the rest of the project. The agenda needs to be clear and well managed. Here is a suggested agenda for the project kick off meeting:
- Introductions: Many people may only know each other by sight – so allow time for brief introductions.
- ink to company strategy: Ask the senior manager to put the project in context with the organisations overall strategic aims. This helps motivate team members that they are contributing to the company’s success.
- Project Mission Statement: Create a project mission statement to clearly outline the projects goal.
- Roles & Responsibilities: This builds on the introductions and make it clear who is going to be doing what on the project. It could be that some work normally done internally is to be sub-contracted.
- Explain PM Methodology: Tell the team members how the project will be managed. Which methodology will be used, and how will progress be reported.
- Team Tools: Discuss the relevant communication tools to be used. Ensure access to SharePoint sites, or other team based communication tools.
- Questions?: Ask if any team members have any questions about the project.
- Thank you: Ensure that you thank attendees for contributing to the meeting, and communicate the next steps.
A good agenda is important for a meeting to run smoothly.
A project meeting is a first chance to view the project team in action. During the initial period of the project it should be remembered that this is a group, rather than a team. A workshop could be arranged to get the team interacting with each other. This allows the project manager (leader) to observe the team in action.
Depending on the project type, workshops could be held around:
- Identifying Stakeholders: Those affected by the project
- Creating the Work Breakdown Structure: The list of tasks that need to be performed. the team themselves are best placed to do this.
- Writing the Project Specification: The document that contains everything abut the project.
- Time could also be spent discussing the teams Belbin profiles:: Understanding how the individuals in a team best operate.
- Communication Planning: Ensuring that communication in not left to chance,
A project plan created by the team will lead to more and commitment from the team than a plan created without the teams involvement. Holding a workshop has the double benefit of team building, as well as creating the project plan.
Meeting the External Stakeholders
The kick off meeting is a key time for stakeholders to meet for the first time, and to exchange contact details. It may be that separate kick off meetings are required for external stakeholders who are interested and affected by the project, but have no direct role in executing the project. This might include pressure groups, local residents, and indirectly affected departments.
When the project kick off meeting has finished. The outputs need to be communicated within the organisation. The wider business will be interested to understand that a new project has started, which will consume resources, time, budget, and effort.
Communication is vital in projects, especially at the first meeting where few people know each other, or understand the project goals. A project kick off meeting is vital to address these issues.
A well-run meeting will be the sign of a potentially well run project. A poor kick-off meeting may damage team members morale and motivation.