A project kickoff meeting is the first meeting between a project team and the client or stakeholder/sponsor of a project to discuss the project’s basic elements and overall planning activities. The kick-off meeting for a project normally conducted just before starting project execution. The project kick-off meeting is an important tool for the project management plan development process.
Purpose of a Project Kick-off Meeting
The main purposes behind conducting a project kick-off meeting just after the contract have been signed are:
- To lay the foundation for a successful project.
- First Formal Meeting of Team Members with the Client: This meeting introduces the project and client team members and provides the opportunity to discuss the role of each team member.
- Understanding the project background.
- Overall Project Goal is set during the kick-off meeting.
- Clarification of member roles/contributions in the project.
- Mutual trust and understanding of each one’s responsibility.
- Starting the project client relationship well with an agreement to work collaboratively.
- Setting the tone of the project during the start itself.
- Instigate confidence in the client.
So, basically, the project kick-off meeting generates enthusiasm for the customer providing a full summary of the project. By describing the goal and steps on how to reach it, the customer gains confidence in the team’s ability to deliver the work.
Kick-off Meeting Agenda
The agenda for every kick-off meeting must be well thought off and complete considering essential project priorities. Even though the kick-off meeting agenda varies from project to project, still there are some basic elements that are followed in every project kick-off meeting as an agenda. These are:
- Welcome Note & Introduction of Team Members.
- Project Background and Project Objectives.
- Project Plan/Approach presentation.
- Statement of work, Scopes, and Deliverables.
- Roles and Responsibilities.
- Collaboration and Communication Plan.
- Establish rules for future communication and meetings
- Schedules, Timelines (Key dates), and Progress Tracking.
- Question and Answer session
Advantages of a Project Kick-Off Meeting
The major advantages of any project kick-off meeting are:
- Team members get acquainted with each other.
- Team members’ understanding of the project objectives is clarified.
- It allows stakeholders to understand the milestones, risks, assumptions, and constraints of the project.
- It gets stakeholders on the same page.
- A project kick-off meeting assists the project manager to gain support from stakeholders.
- Attendees get an opportunity to clarify their doubts.
Who Should Attend a Project Kick-off Meeting
Ideally, all of the people who will work on the project should attend the kick-off meeting. But for large projects with big teams, it may be unfeasible to include everyone involved. In such a case, Project Managers, all discipline lead members, and the key working person should be invited to attend the kick-off meeting. However, it’s always a good idea to share the meeting with all team members through video or web conferencing.
Duration of a Project Kick-Off Meeting
Ideally, all project kick-off meetings should end within an hour. But, for larger projects, it may extend up to two hours. For very big projects including separate phases, a project kick-off meeting for each phase can be conducted.
Kick-Off Meeting Checklist
To make the project kick-off meeting organized the foolowing key-points in the form of a kick-off meeting checklist can be followed:
- Defining Project Scope and Objectives
- Risk Identification
- Establishing time-bound deliverable lists
- Proper Team Building with defined roles and responsibilities
- Appropriate Communication Plan
- Tracking Progress and Milestones
- Tools for team members
- Agenda, handouts, Presentation Slides
Once the above-listed items are addressed, schedule the kick-off meeting without hesitation.
A kick-off meeting is significant for successful project completion with minimal obstruction. Note that, Kick-Off meetings are not problem-solving meetings and hence should not discuss problems. Kick-off meetings should focus solely on information sharing and setting the tone for the rest of the project.