Project managers put a lot of time and effort into researching the viability of their project. But all that work is pointless if they don’t communicate the purpose of the project to their team and clients. That’s why a kickoff meeting is so important.
A kickoff meeting puts everyone on the same page. The team and client know the mission statement, the vision statement and the project plan. It’s all part of the meeting agenda and makes sure the project team starts off on the right foot.
What Is a Project Kickoff Meeting?
The project kickoff meeting communicates the project goals and objectives to ensure the project team and client are clear on what they should be doing in the project.
This activity is part of the project initiation phase. A kickoff meeting is usually led by the project manager. Often, there is an internal kickoff meeting with just the project team, with a later, external kickoff meeting that includes the project client, project sponsor or stakeholder.
In the meeting, the project manager explains the project scope, background information and project timeline to the team. A kickoff meeting should set the right tone for the project as it moves into the execution, monitoring and controlling phases. A well-run kickoff meeting could lead to a successful project completion.
What Is the Purpose of a Kickoff Meeting?
A kickoff meeting is primarily used to get the project team on the same page. In the meeting, project managers explain common goals to keep in mind as the team executes their tasks. It sets up project success.
The kickoff meeting also lets the project manager introduce the project team. It’s important that everyone knows who they’re working with and what their roles and responsibilities are. This avoids conflicts later in the project that can delay work and threaten the project timeline.
The team can ask the project manager questions until they have a firm grasp on the project and their part in it. Because this meeting occurs in person, and not over email or shared documents, you reduce the chance of miscommunication. This helps to avoid scope creep down the line.
There’s a lot of information shared during the kickoff meeting, including what project management software the team will be using. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management tool that has unlimited file storage to keep documents in a centralized hub that’s easily accessible by the team. They can use multiple project views to attach relevant documents to their tasks to keep them on track. Try ProjectManager today for free!
Kickoff Meeting Agenda Example
A kickoff meeting is different depending on the type of project. Some are more structured and formal, where the project manager does a lot of preparation prior to having the kickoff meeting. Smaller projects may have a kickoff meeting without a demo or a deck.
One thing is common, regardless of what sort of kickoff meeting it is; the agenda. More often than not, the kickoff agenda feature the following items, all of which are crucial to a well-done kickoff meeting.
1. Project Background
Part of the project proposal, the project background is a history of the project and how it came to be. It shows the research that led to greenlighting, and why the project is necessary.
This includes why, where and how of your project implementation. You’ve detailed the current situation, what the problem is and how the project solves it. This is all backed by reliable data. The project background is used in a project proposal to get approval from stakeholders. It also helps put the project in context during the project kickoff.
2. Project Scope Overview
The project scope overview is a detailed description of the project work your team must complete to have a successful project. The terms of this work are defined by the project timeline and the project budget.
By understanding the objectives and requirements necessary to complete the project, project managers can more accurately forecast cost and time. By explaining the project scope to the project team, they have a better idea of the constraints on the tasks they’ll be assigned to execute.
3. Project Timeline Overview
The project’s deliverables are laid out on a chronological timeline, which acts as a roadmap for the project. This is the backbone of any project schedule, and should include milestones, tasks, any dependencies and due dates at a minimum.
The project timeline overview is critical for the team, as they’ll be tasked with meeting those deadlines and making those deliverables. Therefore, this information must be clearly communicated. There should be no confusion from anyone on the project team about what must be done.
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4. Risk Management Overview
When making the project plan, a project manager will have to develop a risk management plan as well. This is the process of analyzing risks that could occur during the project. Then, you make a determination on what steps will be necessary to respond to these issues when they arise.
You prioritize risk based on how they impact the project. That’s how you develop a risk mitigation strategy, which includes who will be responsible for which risk if it occurs. The project team must be aware of who has ownership of risks and catch these issues quickly.
5. Roles and Responsibilities
The project manager is responsible for defining the roles and responsibilities of the project team. That is, the team member’s position on the team, the tasks they’re assigned and the duties of their particular role in relation to the larger team and the project.
This is basically a job description. It must be disseminated to the project team during the kickoff meeting. It gives an overview of the job, a list of responsibilities and what that person is authorized to do. Also included is who they report to, so there is a clear chain of command.
6. Project Management Methods and Tools
There are many ways to manage a project. That includes a more traditional methodology such as waterfall, an iterative agile approach or a hybrid that seamlessly connects different work management styles. You also must choose a project management tool that fits the methodology used.
The project team must know how the project is being managed and what their part will be, including the project management software tool they’ll be using. In some cases, this will require a period of training for the team to get them to understand the methodology and how to use the project tools. All of this will be discussed at the kickoff meeting.
How to Run a Project Kickoff Meeting
That’s a lot of information to pass on to the project team. How can you make sure that everyone walks out of the kickoff meeting with that knowledge intact? Here are a few pointers to make sure you run a project kickoff meeting successfully:
- Prepare: You thoroughly researched and documented the project during the initiation phase in order to sell it to your stakeholders, now you have to do the same to the project team. That includes making sure everyone attends, having someone taking notes to share later and having an agenda to make sure you don’t forget anything critical.
- Introduce Yourself and the Team: This is the first time the entire project team has been assembled, so take some time to have everyone introduce themselves. It’s not a bad idea to schedule a bit of time for some icebreaker questions to facilitate the necessary intimacy for better teamwork.
- Define the Project: Make sure the team is clear on what the purpose of the project is and how the project mission statement relates to the larger company’s goals and objectives. To make sure everyone understands, take time to answer any questions the team might have.
- Hand Out the Project Plan: The project plan should be a handout in the kickoff meeting, including the budget timeline, but now you can go over it in detail and make sure everyone understands the topline information, such as the project timeline, key milestones and deliverables.
- Define Project Scope: Make sure the team knows the project scope and key project information. This helps avoid scope creep by managing the team’s expectations.
- Share Roles and Responsibilities: If the team has a history together, this step might not be as important, but it’s crucial for new teams to understand their relationships with one another.
- Explain Central Source of Truth: Have a central source of truth for the team to know the status of the project. That is, the team needs a shared place with real-time data so everyone is always clear on the project’s status and their place in it.
- Ask Questions, Next Steps and To-Do Lists: Before wrapping up, open the floor to any questions to make sure everyone is clear on what has been shared at the kickoff meeting. Take some time to explain what will happen next, including any post-kickoff meeting to-do lists for the team. Our free action items template can help.
Next Steps After Your Project Kickoff Meeting
Speaking of those next steps, they are an important springboard following the kickoff meeting to send the team into action. This is when the execution phase of the project begins. It’s a milestone that has probably been noted in the project plan.
While there will be frequent meetings throughout the project, the kickoff meeting is unique in that it involves the entire project team. It’s unlikely that everyone will be assembled at the same time and place again. This is why having the right project management software is so important.
As noted above, a central source of truth is key to keeping everyone on the project team connected. It should update in real time and provide transparency into the process. This means that everyone knows what everyone else is doing and how they fit into that picture. It’s the best way to avoid bottlenecks, block other team members and keep the project on track.
How ProjectManager Can Help After your Kickoff Meeting
ProjectManager is a cloud-based work management software that plans, monitors and reports in real time to keep hybrid teams working together better to meet the project purpose. ProjectManager is designed with multiple project views that allow teams to work how they want, regardless of their level of expertise, location or methodology.
Plan Ahead on Interactive Gantt Charts
Managers have the features they need to plan ahead with the project mission on interactive Gantt charts that organize tasks, link dependencies and add milestones. But they can also filter for the critical path and set a baseline to track project variance in real time. The project plan can then be shared with teams and stakeholders so everyone always knows what they’re doing and how it fits into the big picture.
Manage Work on Kanban Boards
Team members can use the task list, calendar or kanban board project views to manage their own work and stay productive. Kanban boards visualize workflow for the agile team that needs to manage their backlog and plan sprints. Meanwhile, managers get visibility into their team’s process and can reallocate resources as needed to prevent bottlenecks and costly delays.
Track Performance in Real-Time
Progress and performance are always on-screen with live dashboards. There’s no time-consuming configuration needed. Data is collected and the numbers are crunched automatically. Then, they’re displayed on easy-to-read graphs and charts showing costs, time and other project metrics.
Everything you need to follow in a kickoff meeting to project success is in ProjectManager. From one-click reports that can be filtered and shared to email and in-app notifications to keep everyone always updated, resource management features and more, ProjectManager is the only hybrid work management tool you’ll ever need.
ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that organizes work to keep you productive from kickoff meetings to project closure. Join the tens of thousands of teams that are already using our software at organizations as diverse as NASA, Siemens and Nestle. Try ProjectManager today for free!