I’m going to write a series of blogs that provide guidance for three of the most critical meetings project managers lead.
The first of these meetings is the kickoff meeting. This meeting occurs during the initial stage of the project and is critical to setting the correct expectations for the project team, stakeholders and other interested parties.
The kickoff meeting shouldn’t be viewed as the beginning of the project. There is significant planning that should take place before this meeting is scheduled. As an example, the project manager should come prepared with an understanding of who is on the project team, the assumptions / possible risks and the project plan.
The project manager should understand that this an excellent opportunity to create enthusiasm and begin building a cohesive and motivated team for the work ahead.
The overall purpose of the kickoff meeting is twofold. First, this is the time that a baseline understanding is achieved among those either directly or indirectly involved in the project. For larger projects, this is an excellent time to have the project sponsor speak and communicate the overall goals and reasons why this project is important in meeting the tactical or strategic goals of the organization. Second, it is the project managers chance to expose the project team to the project plan and related documentation. It is important to emphasize that the documents or plans being presented are expected to be reviewed and modified as more details of the project are understood.
A search of the web will net a large number of sample kickoff meeting agenda templates. Some of the key parts to any kickoff agenda are:
- Project team introductions and their roles
- Review of the project plan
- Review any assumptions or known risks
- What the expected communication plan will be during the project
- Key success factors and what the overall goals are for the project
- A question and answer session to ensure all participants leave the meeting with a common understanding of what is to be accomplished.
Lastly, I will reemphasize that this is the project manager’s chance to set the overall tone of the project. Be enthusiastic and attempt to build your team! Motivation toward a successful project is contagious. Set the right tone initially and it will significantly increase your chances of scoring a win with a successful project!
Dan Thompson, PEI