What is a Project Kickoff Meeting?

July 25, 2020
Fahad Usmani
Kickoff meeting

During the project life cycle, you will have many meetings with your stakeholders. Most meetings involve you and your team members discussing the project status, issues, and plans. Other meetings include management and the client. 

These meetings have their significance, however, the kickoff meeting is unique. 

The PMI introduced the kickoff meeting in the 6th edition of the PMBOK Guide. It is a tool and technique of the “Develop Project Management Plan” process.

What is a Kickoff Meeting?

This is the first meeting held amongst the project stakeholders when starting a new project or a new phase. 

This meeting can include high-level stakeholders such as the project sponsor, management, the project manager, and a few team members. However, within the project team, it involves the project manager and team members. This meeting gives the project manager the opportunity to define the common goals and build a consensus. 

A kickoff meeting is a valuable tool to motivate team members to achieve the project objectives.

When Does the Kickoff Meeting Take Place?

For small projects, the kickoff meeting takes place immediately after the initiation phase and includes all team members. For many team members, this will be the first meeting with other members and therefore, it’s an opportunity to get to know others. 

Smaller projects only have one kickoff meeting. 

In larger projects, you will conduct the kickoff meeting when the planning is completed and execution is about to start. If the project is multiphase, you can have a kickoff meeting at the beginning of each phase. 

If the project is spread across a large geographical area, you will have a virtual kickoff meeting so team members can communicate through the internet.

The Purpose of a Kickoff Meeting

A project team is comprised of new team members so a familiarization session is essential. This session provides an opportunity for team members to get to know each other, build trust, and promote mutual understanding. 

In the session, you can discuss project objectives, assumptions, constraints, deliverable(s), challenges, methodologies, procedures, plans, working environment, and the roles of each stakeholder, etc. 

A successful kickoff meeting can set the tone for the project. It ensures that stakeholders are on the same page and have a common understanding of the project objectives. It helps them to reach an agreement on how to work as a team. 

A kickoff meeting helps clients build a relationship with the project team and understand how the project will proceed.

How Do You Conduct a Successful Kickoff Meeting?

Large projects can have internal and external kickoff meetings. 

Internal kickoff meetings are held between the team members and management to understand the project. 

They help team members prepare for meeting with the client and avoid asking unnecessary questions. It boosts the team members’ confidence. 

After conducting the internal kickoff meeting, you will conduct the external kickoff meeting with the client. This is an opportunity for you to understand the client and their expectations, clear up any doubts, and explain the process of carrying out the project. 

To conduct a successful kickoff meeting, follow these steps: 

  1. Set the Agenda
  2. Conduct the Meeting
  3. Close the Meeting

Set the Agenda

You should decide on the topics to be discussed in the meeting. 

You will include an introductory session, introduce the project and its objectives, milestones, assumptions, constraints, and at the end have a question-answer session. 

Use presentations to explain your reasoning. 

Send this agenda before conducting the meeting so attendees can prepare and actively contribute. 

Conduct the Meeting

Introduce yourself and ask others to do the same. Afterward, you will tender the agenda and explain the topics to be discussed in the meeting. 

Afterward, explain the project, its objectives, a short brief on the project scope, and the roles and responsibilities of the team members. 

Discuss the communication and reporting system: for example, how to communicate information with the stakeholders. You will set the agenda to be discussed with the client. Finally, you will have a Q&A session. 

Explain the project charter and its contents. Tell them this is the initial stage and you will require their help in developing a detailed project management plan

Set the expectations. For example, explain work assignments, rotation, leave procedures, etc. 

Discuss the critical stakeholders, and their needs and roles. Explain the communication and reporting system. For example, specify the report formats and communication frequency. 

Finally, explain the project, its business needs and why it is vital for the client and the company. Lead this part with the client. You should inform the client in advance so that they can prepare for the meeting. 

You can discuss any significant risks or constraints that the project may face and how you will overcome them.

Close the Meeting

In the end, hold a question-and-answer session and encourage participants to clear any doubts they may have. 

Finally, thank the participants and ask them to contact you if they need any clarification. 

After the meeting ends, you will prepare the meeting minutes and send them to the attendees, as well as those who did not come to the meeting.

Benefits of a Kickoff Meeting

The kickoff meeting has the following benefits:

  • It helps team members get to know each other.
  • It shows the project manager’s authority and leadership skills.
  • It helps team members understand the project objectives.
  • It allows stakeholders to understand the milestones, risks, assumptions, and constraints of the project.
  • It assists the project manager in gaining support from stakeholders.
  • It provides attendees with an opportunity to clarify doubts.
  • It gets stakeholders on the same page.

Summary

A kickoff meeting is a significant part of successful project completion. It helps you execute and complete the project with minimal obstruction. This is a moment where you can demonstrate your abilities and build the stakeholders’ confidence in your project. This is where you set the stakeholders’ expectations for the project. 

Have you ever lead a kickoff meeting or take part in one? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments section.

PMP Question Bank

This is the most popular Question Bank for the PMP Exam. To date, this PMP Question Bank has helped over 10,000 PMP aspirants pass the PMP exam. 

__CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"62516":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"62516":{"val":"rgb(59, 60, 61)"}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
More Details

PMP Formula Guide

This is the most popular Formula Guide for the PMP Exam. If you face difficulty with attempting mathematical questions for the PMP exam.

__CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"62516":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"62516":{"val":"rgb(59, 60, 61)"}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
More Details


Recommended Reading


Speak Your Mind

  • I would like to add few points based on my exepeirmce on project management.
    Kickoff meeting must happen before actual execution phase starts. In our case we will have approved SOW, PO then we schedule kickoff meeting with a client. After the kickoff, we start normally execution next day.

  • please any body guide me what exactly the project start up means for? like some literature defined the project startup is a small phase between planning and implementation. where as some argue that startup is the phase in between commissioning and operation phase. it quite confusing.
    thnks

  • Dear, Have one inquiry please?

    during kickoff meeting the project manager will lead the meeting and discuss the construction strategy, but who will discuss the project strategy ( project manager or project sponsor???

    • Usually, the project kickoff meeting is held by the project manager with his or her team members, so he or she will lead all discussion.

  • Well structured articles with all details about kick off meeting. I encountered three questions regarding kick off meeting. One question was who sets the strategic objective for Kick offmeeting?
    1-sponsor 2- stake holder 3- customer 4- project manager.
    I am unable to find the clear answer. Can you help out??

    • Kick off meeting is the first meeting between stakeholders where they decide how to proceed further. So as per my understanding, the answer would be “stakeholders”.

  • “For example, you can include the introduction session, introduction to the project and its objectives, milestones, assumptions, constraints, and finally the question and answer session.”

    I’m glad you called out assumptions here. I’ve been involved in projects where assumptions were called out and discussed, and projects where never happened. Guess which projects were more successful? ;o)

    Also, for projects where the team members haven’t really worked together before, I find an icebreaker activity is helpful in the kick-off meeting. Atlassian has some fun suggestions on their kick-off page ( https://www.atlassian.com/team-playbook/plays/project-kick-off ), like asking each other what your superhero name would be.

    Thanks for a good article!

  • I have a quiestion. After Project Charter is approved, what is next step you do

    1. Identify the resources
    2. Kick off meeting is held

    which one you Select as successor after project approval?

    • Resources will be identified during planning phases. After signing the project charter you can have kick off meeting with key stakeholders.

  • Dear fahd ,
    Thanks a lot for your article
    I met this question before
    Can you please give us your idea

    They said this is a frequent question:
    You are a pm and now you are ready to conduct a kick off meeting,but you received many excuses from team members to attend the meeting, what will you do?
    A.Insist for the team attendance
    B.make it with who is available
    C.cancel the meeting
    D.Re-shedule the kick off meeting

    Regards

    • Kick off meeting is important and the project manager has to hold it. He is the man in control, he must conduct it and insist all team member to attend it.

  • Dear Fahad,

    I really enjoy reading your posts on here even after I got the PMP credentials and thanks again for your kind efforts.

    Regarding this issue, I was confused during my preparation of the exam but as you mention on this post, some inherited characteristics of kick off meetings are not necessary to differentiate the timing of the kick off meeting held. This might be held after project charter is approved at any point in time. Majority of team members are identified during planning processes so that logically it is a good timing to hold this meeting after project management plan is approved or developed as a team building tool. But it doesn’t mean it should be in planning process group because the differentiation of each process group is not practical way to explain any interdependences and interrelationship, and iterations of processes which are either in the same KAs or in different KAs but only for functionality. Even though kick of meeting is one of 13 tasks in planning domain in Exam Outline Contents of June 2015, practically it could be held even in executing process group or just after project charter is approved or during developing project management plan all based on the size or complexities of project, or on project needs. But for the exam purpose, it might be smart to consider it as a team building tool as well as stakeholder engagement tool just after approval of project management plan. It might be not necessary to clearly specify the process group to which this activity belongs.

    Best regards,

    Park

    • Well said Park.

      I did not notice that in the PMP Exam Content Outline kick off meeting is mentioned under planning process group.

      Thanks for letting us know.

  • The article posted is really helpful and effective. This gives some great ideas how to deal with projects and make it successful.The kickoff meeting is very essential and important for every organization. Project Managers have a lot of responsibility on how to deal with the existing project and deal with new projects .They need to plan, to execute, to measure, to evaluate, to communicate.

  • Hi Fahad,
    Thanks for the wonderful post. I have a query. The blog mentions that “tell stakeholders that you need their help in developing a detailed PM plan”, however this meeting has to happen during develop team process in executing phase.
    Isn’t this a contradiction??Pl help me understand this..

  • Hello Fahad,
    Could you please answer the following question?
    Do you know if PMP Exam’s questions are only about PMBOK, or like some other tool tells (Rita Murclay, Oliver Lehmann and others) there are also question that come from other source? If yes what colud be the best source ?

    • There are many questions which may directly be not based on the PMBOK Guide; for example situation based questions.

      You can buy any good PMP exam reference book and a exam simulator.

      This will be enough for you to prepare for the exam.

  • Dear Fahad,

    Thank you for the valuable notes regarding the Kick-Off Meeting.

    I have a related question which is confusing me..
    At what project management process group the kick off meeting must be conducted?

    When referring to RMC resources, the last activity of project planning is to Hold kick-off meeting after approving the project management plan and before executing project work, while based on this article and the replies “Kickoff meeting is considered as an activity of develop project team process” which is in execution process group.

    Can you please clarify when exactly the kick off meeting should be conducted as per PMI? at what process group, what process comes before and after the kick off meeting?

    Best Regards

    • Hello Emad, this is really a good questions and I have discussed it with some experts and there is still some ambiguity on this topic so I am planning to write to PMI as the draft has been open for the sixth version of the PMBOK Guide.

      Anyway let us discuss it.

      1) There is no mention of the term “Kickoff” in the PMBOK Guide fifth edition.

      2) Though it is assumed to be an activity of the develop project team process.

      3) Develop project team is an executing process group process.

      Therefore according to the PMBOK Guide fifth edition, the kickoff meeting should be held in the executing process.

      I did not agree with it 100%. It might be true in some cases but not in all. Kickoff meeting is the first meeting among the stakeholders to discuss the project and other things as I explained in this blog post.

      From my experience and the after doing a thorough research on internet, I would say the PMI need to clarify this issue in the new version of the PMBOK Guide.

      Hope it helps.

      • Hello everyone I would love to add some points here. It’s really difficult to place kick off meeting in any particular group since it can be done after initiation , after completing detailed project management plan and in developing project team . In my last project we had kick off meeting for every new start either it’s new phase or new activity which is a part of Direct and Manage Work

  • Thank you for valuable explanation.
    Could you please answer the following question?
    During Kick off meeting , should project manager assign roles and responsibility to project teams?

    Thanks,

    • Staff role assignment happens in acquire project team process, not in develop project team process. Kickoff meeting is considered as an activity of develop project team process.

  • please fahad kindly answer me the exam pmp is it still based on pimbok 5th edition i have an exam coming up in may 2016. for your articles many thanx

  • PMP aspirants must take note of this valuable information, questions on kick off meetings are trick especially if you have not read this article! Well done and well written to equip any one taking the PMP exam in future.

    • Hello Oliver,

      In fact, last month two of my blog visitors requested me to write a blog post on kick off meeting. Both of them have attended the exam and told me that there were many questions in the exam from this topic though many PMP exam preparation books do not cover this topic deeply.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Recommended Resources

    Use these resources for your PMP certification exam preparation and pass the exam with minimal effort.

    __CONFIG_group_edit__{"jv80vv8f":{"name":"All Image(s)","singular":"-- Image %s"},"jv812jsg":{"name":"All Title(s)","singular":"-- Text %s"},"jv812qp8":{"name":"All Name(s)","singular":"-- Text %s"},"jv812zdt":{"name":"All Divider(s)","singular":"-- Divider %s"},"jv813402":{"name":"All Paragraph(s)","singular":"-- Text %s"},"jv813af5":{"name":"All Button(s)","singular":"-- Button %s"},"jv813f5t":{"name":"All Content Box(s)","singular":"-- Content Box %s"},"jv813k1c":{"name":"All Column(s)","singular":"-- Column %s"}}__CONFIG_group_edit__
    __CONFIG_local_colors__{"colors":{"c85e2":"Button ","f242c":"Border"},"gradients":{}}__CONFIG_local_colors__

    The PMP Training Program


    The PMI approved 35 contact hours training program that is 100% online, affordable, and help you prepare the PMP exam.

    __CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"val":"rgb(255, 255, 255)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.01,"l":0.99}}},"gradients":[]},"original":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"val":"rgb(19, 114, 211)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.83,"l":0.45}}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
    Read More

    The PMP Exam Preparation Tool


    A PMP exam preparation course, that is 100% online and provide you everything you need to pass the PMP exam.

    __CONFIG_colors_palette__{"active_palette":0,"config":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"name":"Main Accent","parent":-1}},"gradients":[]},"palettes":[{"name":"Default Palette","value":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"val":"rgb(255, 255, 255)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.01,"l":0.99}}},"gradients":[]},"original":{"colors":{"3e1f8":{"val":"rgb(19, 114, 211)","hsl":{"h":210,"s":0.83,"l":0.45}}},"gradients":[]}}]}__CONFIG_colors_palette__
    Read More
    >