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Your project kick-off meeting is the best opportunity for project managers to set the right tone for the weeks and months ahead. There are no budgetary or scheduling issues to address (at least for now), and no change orders to create tension or confusion. The project team and other stakeholders are excited to see the project begin, and are paying close attention to each and every word you say.

The best way to set your project on the right course is to come to your kick-off meeting prepared with a solid agenda, and clearly communicate the information your team will need. The elements described below can help you build a framework that will make every project kick off meeting a success.

1. Introductions

Especially at the enterprise level, projects tend to involve multiple companies, business units and departments, so you can’t count on the fact that everyone knows each other ahead of time. Taking a quick moment to introduce each person during the kick-off meeting can help set the room at ease and create a more collaborative atmosphere, especially since it’s a meeting most everyone involved in the project will attend.

2. Executive Summary

You also can’t count on everyone in the room being thoroughly familiar with the project in advance. Executive stakeholders, if they’re participating in the meeting, likely have too many other things on their plates, and you may also have new team members who are learning about the project for the first time. Spend a few minutes early on in your meeting to give a summary of the business case for the project and the general objectives it is supposed to meet.

3. Scope and Deliverables

All of your agenda items in your kick off meeting should be fairly high-level, but if you are going to get into any of the details, this is the place to do it. Be sure that everyone understands what is in and out of scope for the project, and what deliverables the project team is expected to provide at the end.

4. Roles and Responsibilities

Once you’ve covered the project goals and deliverables, identify each group, team or individual who will be working on (or monitoring) the project, and give a brief description of their responsibilities at each project phase. If everyone understands what’s expected of them, you won’t have to spend time later answering unnecessary check-in emails.

5. Timelines

A kick off meeting is usually not the time to delve into specific task deadlines or assignments, but it’s important to communicate the high-level project schedule, including any milestones or go/no go decision points.

6. Communication and Meeting Plans

Before you bring your meeting to a close, give your stakeholders some details on the communication channels, meeting schedules and project management technology you’ll be using to manage the project. Be sure to provide any links, phone numbers or other details the project team will need in order to participate in meetings or access project information.

If you need help along the way, Clarizen’s innovative project management solutions can help you manage your projects to success from the kick- off meeting to the final wrap-up.

Jen Howard
Jen Howard, Director Corporate Marketing