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:
- Set the Agenda
- Conduct the Meeting
- 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.
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.
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.