The Kickoff, Let's Get the Party Started

Finally there!

This may sound familiar to you

You have completed a long road until being ready to finally start your project. In some cases this may have required going through a several step process:

  • Budget management for receiving the project funding.
  • RFP process.
  • Aligning with Purchase Department.
  • Purchase Order creation (in some case with multiple step approval).

So, now it's time to start making things move: work on a proper project definition and planning phase, resource allocation, start engaging stakeholders, schedule the first project meetings...

In some cases (and this happened to me in the past), you are so excited about starting the new project that you don't realize how crucial it's to properly KickOff your project.

What is the purpose of a project KickOff meeting?

The main objective of the project KickOff is to set the basis for start moving forward with the project. It’s the first meeting between the project team and either the client or key stakeholders and should take place after you’ve agreed upon a Scope of Work (SOW).

The preparation for the KickOff is fundamental, and before meeting with the client/stakeholders is highly recommended to align and share first within the project team to get their feedback and solve all the questions they may have (and most probably the end audience).

The audience attending this meeting should be the project team, the project sponsor and the key stakeholders. If we are working with a vendor, they should be joining (and most probably leading) this meeting.

Agenda proposal for the perfect KickOff

Every project has its own singularities, and according to those it may require a more complex KickOff. In this section I'll describe the minimum required parts for a proper KickOff. If any of these parts is missing, I would recommend to review internally prior to attending the KickOff meeting.

  • Project summary and scope: This needs to be done at the beginning to let all the attendees know the context and scope of the project.
  • High Level Timeline: We all know that this is an early stage of the project, but it's required to have at least a high level timeline and share it during this meeting. This timeline should include also the most relevant milestones.
  • Project team (or structure): One slide with the most relevant contacts is also required. This is were we should identify: Project Sponsor, Project Manager, Steerco Members, SMEs (Subject Matter Experts or Technical Leads) and the vendors participating in the project. It's a good practice begin the KickOff meeting with a round-table for a quick introduction of all the attendees, so most of the people should have been already introduced.
  • Governance Model: It's a key factor for the success of a project to define a proper Governance Model. It serves for setting the basis for escalating, reporting and following up.
  • Risk assessment: As part of the project definition works, you as Project Manager have to do the risk assessment by identifying all the possible risks, categorizing them (impact/probability) and adding the respective mitigation action. During the KickOff is recommended to share this assessment so all the key stakeholders will be aware and informed.
  • Q&A: It's very important to be sure the audience receives the messages sent during all the meeting and has no questions. This point is specifically to solve all the questions they may have.
  • Registered actions: This is something personal, but I like to add one slide at the end of my presentations consisting in an empty table with Action ID, Description, Owner and Due Date. If an action arises during the meeting, I take note and after ending the meeting I send it together with the minutes.
The KickOff, let's get the party started

These points above may be changing in order or be grouped, but I would consider are the minimum ones to KickOff a project the best way possible. 

One last tip: For the projects where you are working with a vendor and they are leading the KickOff, I would recommend to align with their Project Manager before attending the KickOff. By this way, you'll be sure all the info you need will be included in the presentation. 

I hope this post will be useful for all of you and transmits the importance of having a good KickOff meeting to ensure the project will run smoothly. 

So, what about you? Are you giving the proper importance to the KickOff meeting of your projects? Do you have any point that may be added to the agenda? Please feel free to share your comments :)

November 08, 2021


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