A kick-off meeting is typically a workshop type meeting and it may last from 1 to 3 days. It generally include several activities such as a project charter, a business plan review, team building exercises, a team charter, risk analysis…
The first project meeting is an opportunity to share plan for leading the project to a successful completion. It is advantage and a chance to energize the group, set proper expectations, and establish guidelines that will help in completing the project on time and within budget.
Projects can vary in size but will often pull together people from different backgrounds, different functional parts of an organization, and even different parts of the world under the guise of a project team. Bringing this diverse group together and getting them focussed and energised on the task ahead is the purpose of the kick-off meeting.
A well-planned kick-off meeting sets the tone for a successful project, so it should pass through some steps, presented below as tips for achieving that.
The first one is to build a project framework. Defining answers to questions such as: What are the project objectives? Who are the stakeholders? What are the criteria for successful completion? What are the business objectives?
The second step is identifying the project team members and their responsibilities. Resource needs vary based upon the size, complexity, and nature of the project. Define answers to questions such as: Who does what? What are the responsibilities of each member? What are the reporting procedures? Also, developing a project assumptions list is important for project team members to be aware of major assumptions that apply to the project. For example, spelling out the assumption that each team member has been selected and made available to the project by their manager to ensure its success. That assumption means that their assigned tasks must take priority, and each participant must be committed to the success of the project if they are to participate.
Then, the next steps are to develop the preliminary project plan and to define key success factors. An advice is to save a lot of time by going ahead and developing the tasks, responsibilities, and timeframes of the project plan. Going through this exercise will help to validate whether you have the right resources, identify risks, and determine the appropriate timelines for tasks and milestones. Also, important thing is using whatever resources are needed as a help to create the initial project plan. The point here is that when you go into the kick-off meeting, you will already have a plan drafted. Doing so will save time and get the project off to a faster start.
Once the team is assembled and assigned clear responsibilities, team members should be asked to validate their task responsibilities and timeframes for reasonability, completeness, and accuracy.
Beside business meeting, the important part of kick-off meeting is team building activities. The well known reasons for team building includes improving communication and team productivity, making the workplace more enjoyable, practicing effective collaboration with team members etc. The purpose of team building exercises is to assist teams in becoming cohesive units of individuals that can effectively work together to complete tasks.
This agenda template for kick-off meeting can be adapted to any particular priority. For better efficiency, it is recommended to have an external consultant conduct the meeting.
At the end of a good kick off meeting, everyone present should understand the background to and reasons for the project, they should understand the objectives of the project, understand the role they will play, the timescales, along with any important risks and issues which are currently known.