A kick off meeting is an important communication tool for you to communicate with your project stakeholders. If managed properly, this meeting can help you execute the project with minimal obstruction and you will be able to complete your project successfully.
In the PMP exam questions based on kick off meetings have appeared several times, though in the PMBOK Guide 5th edition, this term was not mentioned even a single time.
It is commonly understood that although the term kick off meeting is absent from the PMBOK Guide, its intent is covered under the develop project team process whose objective is to improve feelings of trust, and to promote mutual understanding and agreement among team members.
Anyway, let’s discuss it in detail.
What is a Kick Off Meeting?
A kick off meeting is the first meeting among the project stakeholders. This meeting can be held among the high level project stakeholders such as the project sponsor, management, and the project manager.
At the project level, you can have this meeting with your team members. Since all of your team members are new, this will be their first meeting together.
If the project is small, you can have only one project meeting with all of your team members before starting the project work. However, if the project is large you can have it at the beginning of each phase.
If the project is very large, complex and spread out in a large geographical area and you want to have a kick off meeting, you can have it. However in this case the meeting will be a virtual kick off meeting where all participants can communicate with each other through the internet.
What is the Purpose of a Kick Off Meeting?
A kick off meeting is the first meeting with the project stakeholders, so you can simply say that it is a get to know kind of meeting.
It is true that one objective of the kick off meeting is to get to know each other, since all of the project team members are new and don’t know each other, it is important to have a familiarization session.
Here you will introduce the sponsor of the project, top management, key customers and other important stakeholders.
The other objective of a kick off meeting is to make all members aware of the project objectives, assumptions, constraints, deliverables, challenges, methodologies, procedures, plans, working environment, etc.
The project team members may ask questions if they need clarification.
A successful kick off meeting ensures that all project stakeholders are on the same page and understand the project objectives well. This will help them complete the project more efficiently.
How to Conduct a Kick Off Meeting
The following are a few steps for conducting a successful kickoff meeting.
Set the Agenda
This is the most important step. You should clearly decide what items you are going to discuss in the meeting.
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.
You should send this agenda to all attendees in advance so they can prepare themselves for the meeting. You should also distribute it just before the meeting starts.
Conduct the Meeting
As a project manager you will have to conduct and lead the meeting.
You will introduce yourself and ask others to follow suit. Afterwards you will discuss the agenda and tell attendees what you are going to discuss in the meeting.
You will explain the project charter and its content, such as project objectives, high level project assumptions and constraints. Tell them since this is the initial stage you will need their help to develop the detailed project management plan.
Set the expectations clearly. For example, explain to them how many days they will have to work, about the rotation, and how leave will be granted.
Explain the communication and reporting system. For example, in what format you need the reports and how often meetings or communication should happen.
Closure of the Meeting
At the end of the meeting, you will hold a question and answer session. Here participants can ask any question they may have about the project. You will thank all participants and ask them to contact you to clarify any doubts or for further questions.
Once the meeting is ended, you will prepare the minutes of the meeting and send it to all attendees for their review. You will also try to communicate with any important stakeholder who did not come to the meeting. You will send them the minutes of meeting and try to have a one-on-one meeting if necessary.
Benefits of a Kick Off meeting
The following are a few benefits of a kick off meeting:
- It helps team members to get to know each other.
- It demonstrates the project manager’s authority and leadership skills.
- It helps team members understand the project objectives.
- It helps team members understand the project’s milestones, risks, assumptions, and constraints.
- It helps the project manager gain support from all stakeholders.
- It gives the opportunity to all attendees to ask questions and get clarity.
- It brings all stakeholders to the same platform.
The kick off meeting is an important tool for the project manager to get to know all team members and motivate them to achieve the project objectives. This is the first meeting for the project and mainly performs the task of kick starting the project. A kick off meeting is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your abilities to lead and direct the project; therefore you must plan and manage this meeting carefully.
Here is where this blog post on the project kick off meeting ends. If you have something to share, you can do so through the comments section.