While the saying “a good start is half the work” is never true when it comes to almost any project, it does still play a very significant role in the momentum that the project begins with. For a project manager therefore, knowing how to kick off a project effectively is an important and necessary skill to have. Project kick off won’t necessarily make or break the project, but it sets the tone for how work and communication will proceed so it can either make things run smoother or more bumpily, depending on how things go.
The good news is that as it is an event that occurs with virtually every project, project kick off is something that you can plan for extensively and tweak to get right, as opposed to certain risk situations which you may only be able to devote a limited amount of time to planning for due to their low prevalence.
How to kick off a project successfully
- Have a pre-meeting meeting with your team
Kick off meetings will usually be attended by all direct stakeholders, which includes senior executives, external suppliers and clients. One great resource you’ll have to provide support and further details when necessary is your own team. It is often a good idea to have a pre-kick off meeting with at least your team leaders to share knowledge and strategy and find out where others can add to the meeting.
- Clarify the agenda
A good project kick off meeting is one where everybody knows why they are there, what they will be finding out and what is expected of them. A clearly defined agenda also gives the PM a roadmap to follow when facilitating the meeting.
- Establish goals and scope
The project kick off meeting is also the best place to find out the expectations of the project from the various stakeholders and to come to agreement on the final scope of the project. Now is the time to set out the project’s vision and what it is striving to achieve.
- Sign-off on deliverables
The output that is expected from your team and the inputs from external sources to the project are all deliverables that need to be completed. In the project plan, each stakeholder should have been informed of the expected deliverables involved in the project. The kick-off meeting is a good place to get final sign-off on these and also to inform others of the importance of the major deliverables.
- Identify responsibilities
Getting everyone in one room is also the perfect time to build trust and understanding between those involved. The delegation of responsibilities being laid out means that everyone knows where they stand and can also easily identify the person who is responsible for other deliverables.
- Outline communication channels and procedures
Starting your project with a positive and effective communications plan will make life easier for everyone involved and also prevent a lot of future issues. At the project kick off, outline what the process of communication between the various stakeholders should be and define the different responsibilities they will have, for example, producer, sign-off, viewing, reviewing etc.
Also published on Medium.