A project kickoff meeting is one of the most critical meetings in a project which provides an opportunity to establish common goals and start the project right. It is an essential tool for communication which can help to run a project smoothly with minimal problems if done in the right way. If it is done poorly, it may have negative effects on the project’s success. If you are preparing for the PMP Certification Exam, you may encounter some questions regarding the kickoff meetings. Although the earlier versions of the PMBOK Guide did not mention this concept, it is explained starting from the Sixth Edition of the PMBOK Guide as a tool of the develop project management plan process. In this article, we will discuss the internal and external project kickoff meeting and the importance of preparing a kickoff meeting agenda.
What is a Project Kickoff Meeting?
Typically a project kickoff meeting takes place at the beginning of a new project. It is the first meeting held between the project team and the stakeholders after the contract have been signed.
The purpose of the kickoff meeting is to define the common goals regarding completing the project successfully. It helps the attendants to comprehend what needs to be done and how to work in harmony.
In general, the project team members, project manager, project sponsor, high-level project stakeholders, and the client participates in the kickoff meeting to define the base elements of the project.
Both the client and the contractor demonstrate their enthusiasm and understanding regarding the project deliverables. It provides a chance for both parties to understand each other.
What is the Purpose of a Kickoff Meeting?
If the project is small, the kickoff meeting is held in the planning process. Most of the project team members who participate in both the planning and the execution phase of the project attend the meeting. The team members understand the goals, deadlines, deliverables and the challenges of the project. From this aspect, this meeting ensures all the project team and stakeholders have a general understanding regarding the objectives.
If the project is large and multiphased, the kickoff meeting takes place before to start each phase and the project team discusses methodologies, assumptions and constraints of each phase.
External and Internal Project Kickoff Meeting
An internal kickoff meeting is done among the team members and the management to discuss the project deliverables, challenges, and key project milestones. It can be thinkable as an exercise for the project team before to attend the external meeting.
The external kickoff meeting, on the other hand, is conducted among the team members, the client and high-level project stakeholders. It provides a common understanding to operate from the same page. It helps the project team to know the expectations of the client.
What are the Steps to Conduct a Successful Meeting?
It is obvious that you need to prepare for the meeting to increase the chance of success. It is a good idea to hold an internal kickoff meeting among the team members and the management before to attend the external kickoff meeting with the client.
Below are the steps to conduct a successful internal kickoff meeting.
Set the Kickoff Meeting Agenda
Before to attend the meeting, you need to list the important topics to be discussed. For instance, you can discuss the key project milestones as well as objectives. You may add the following sections to the project kickoff meeting agenda template;
You need to send the agenda to the team members before the meeting so that they will be prepared regarding the important topics.
Conduct the Meeting as a Project Manager
As a project manager, you need to conduct the internal kickoff meeting with your project team. Then, you will discuss the topics specified in the agenda.
After talking about the project background and the introductions, discuss the project assumptions and constraints. Explain the project charter to the team members and set the expectations.
You can talk about the reporting system and the communication channels.
Talk about the risks, critical issues, key project stakeholders and other important details.
Hold a Question and Answer Session
Before to close the meeting, hold a question and answer session in which the participants can ask their questions and receive the answers. So that everybody will understand the outputs, challenges and the constraints of the project.
Lastly, prepare the minutes of meeting and send to the attendees for review. Once all the steps have been completed, your team is ready to attend the external kickoff meeting with the client.
What are the Benefits of a Kickoff Meeting?
Holding a kickoff meeting provides many benefits to the project teams. A few of them are below.
- Project team members get the chance to know each other.
- Gives a project manager the opportunity to show his/her skills and authority.
- Ensures that the team members understand the key project objectives, deadlines, and milestones.
- Provides clarity with the help of the question and answer session.
- Improves communication and collaboration between the parties.
A kickoff meeting is a face to face communication tool among the project team and the client. It marks the official start of a new project or a new phase. Important project decisions are made during this meeting. If you conduct an internal meeting and discuss important points regarding the project, the project team will exactly know what they are doing while talking with the client during the external meeting.
Have you ever participated in a meeting at the beginning of a project? We will be happy to hear about your experiences through the comments box.