What is a Kick-Off Meeting?
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 is normally conducted just before starting project execution. The project kick-off meeting is an important tool for the project management plan development process. So, the meaning of kick-off meeting is basically the first project meeting during the initiation phase of the project lifecycle. Kick-Off Meeting is sometimes referred to as KOM kickoff meeting to form an acronym.
Project Kick-off Meeting Purpose
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.
- The 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 to provide 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 agenda. These are:
- Welcome Notes & 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 Template
As the project kick-off meeting is held in the initial phase of the project cycle, there will be a lot of questions in mind. The one responsible for the kickoff meeting should address those questions as part of the session. But, addressing all doubts will increase the duration of the meeting. Hence, a project kickoff meeting template can help the responsible person in managing the time. A typical kickoff meeting template usually includes the important activities mentioning the time to devote for discussing that activity during the kick-off meeting. A project kickoff meeting template should address the following points:
- Project background
- Project Timeline
- Roles and Responsibilities of key contributing members
- Address any misunderstanding if any among group members
Project Kick-Off Meeting Checklist
To make the project kick-off meeting organized the following 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, and Presentation Slides.
Once the above-listed items are addressed, schedule the kick-off meeting without hesitation.
It is always better to have a pre-kickoff meeting to plan everything beforehand for the success of the kick-off meeting. The pre-kickoff meeting serves various purposes like:
- Understanding the full project scope clearly.
- Creating an inventory of required stuff.
- Looking into existing data from other projects which may be useful for the new project, etc.
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.