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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Project Kickoff meeting

The kickoff meeting for a new project is your best opportunity to energize the group and establish a common purpose toward completing the work.

To thoroughly understand the role of the kick-off meeting on the success of a project, we must be clear about the purpose(s) of this first project meeting. 
 A kick-off meeting has four basic functions:
a) Publicly state the beginning of the project;
b) Outline the project goals as well as the individual roles and responsibilities of team members;
c) Clarify the expectations of all parties;
d) Create a commitment by all those who influence the project’s outcome.

Although the format of a kick-off meeting varies depending on the size and complexity of each project, it usually consists of several sessions each one focused on a different key topic. For example, some common sessions are the following:

Business Plan 

In this session, the topics discussed mainly involve determining how much money is to be made from the project and what are the levers to make that money. It is important to use the business plan as a decision-making tool.
Some project management experts believe that in those cases in which the project team has no responsibility on profit, there is no point in having a Business Plan session.

Project Charter 

 This session includes determining what the project statement is (its scope, definition and objectives), and who are the stakeholders (the client, management committees, etc). The general schedule, budget and activities are also discussed. The project manager usually goes over the project charter, including the project background, description, milestones and timeline, etc, with the objective of aligning the project with the reality.

Team Charter 

This session obeys to the purpose of clarifying who the project manager and key project members are, and who does what on the team. Generally, the project manager introduces the organization chart along with the roles and responsibilities of each project team member.

Master Planning This is a reasonably high-level type of planning that usually does not comprise more than 50-100 tasks. It is not a detailed planning, but includes all the tasks that are necessary for the completion of the project, from the beginning until its closure.

Risk Analysis This session involves a through assessment of all the risks that the project team members might face in order to accomplish the project goals. It involves identifying those factors that could jeopardize the success of the project and develop ways to overcome them, as well as a corrective or preventive action plan if needed.

Team building It is always a good idea that the kick-off meeting ends with some kind of team-building activity or exercise aimed at teaching some rules for efficient teamwork. This task is best handled by an experienced facilitator and is usually a combination of physical and mental agility with an emphasis on teamwork.

Following are the basic agenda for most of my project kickoff meeting presentation:

  • Project Name
  • Project Manager
  • Participants
  • Date
  • Project Description
  • Goals and Deliverable
  • Major Milestones
  • Key success factors
  • Risks and Issues
  • Project Assumptions
  • Project Members and roles
  • Project Plan
  • Questions and Answers
  • Summery

Checklist for project kick-off meeting

  • Ensure the Proposal is approved
  • Ensure the SOW is signed off
  • Ensure the project plan and milestones are approved and agreed
  • Ensure the boundaries of the project scope is defined
  • Ensure the team members are identified and available
  • Ensure the about the user/customer, key contacts and current relationships.
  • Ensure the risks are identified have preventive and corrective actions