The project kickoff can get deprioritized in all the hard, upfront initiation work, but don’t overlook this important step towards the successful completion of your project. Our free project kickoff template helps you fully communicate all the essential information to your project team and clients. Get started by downloading our free project kickoff template for Word today.
What Is a Project Kickoff?
The project kickoff is where the entire project team is gathered and the details of the project are communicated to them. This is an internal project kickoff meeting. For an external project kickoff, the client is also usually in attendance with sponsors and stakeholders. The purpose of a kickoff meeting is to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understand the goals and objectives of the project.
Kickoff occurs during the project initiation phase and the process is led by the project manager. We’ll get into what is discussed in specifics a bit later, but one of the main thrusts of the project kickoff meeting is to introduce the project team to one another. This is done to ensure everyone is clear on their duties, potentially avoiding any conflicts later that could cause slowdowns in the work. During the meeting, the project manager should be open to questions from the team and their feedback.
The project management software used for the project will also be determined at the project kickoff. For your next project, consider ProjectManager. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software with powerful planning, tracking and reporting tools your whole team can use. ProjectManager serves as a collaborative platform too, where teams can share files, but also comment at the task level, anytime and anywhere. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.
Why Should You Use a Project Kickoff Template?
Having a project kickoff template is helpful in that it ensures that you’ve covered all your bases because they’re already outlined in the template. Our free project kickoff template is completely customizable, so you can add agenda items that are specific to your project.
In terms of the project kickoff meeting itself, let’s reiterate that it introduces the project team to one another. They are the ones who will be executing the project and will have to work together. The project kickoff is one of the first team-building activities they’ll engage in, and it’s essential to build those bonds that create productive teams.
The kickoff template will deliver a shared knowledge of the project background, why the project is being implemented and their roles and responsibilities within the team. Therefore, thanks to the template, they’ll all share a mutual understanding of what the successful project will look like and what needs to be done to achieve that goal.
When Should You Use This Project Kickoff Template
As noted above, a project kickoff takes place in the initiation stage of the project. That’s the first stage of any project. The project kickoff, though, is usually the last thing that is done in the project initiation phase. It ends that phase and leads into the next, which is the project planning phase.
Therefore, this project kickoff template for Word should be used before work begins on the execution of the project. Kickoff usually begins after the statement of work has been completed and everyone is ready to get started with the next phase of the project.
The project manager should be using this project kickoff template earlier in the initiation stage. They can attach the relevant documents as they’re completed, so they’re all at hand when the project manager leads the kickoff meeting. Those documents can also be disseminated to the project team so they have the pertinent information.
How to Use this Project Kickoff Template for Word
Once you’ve downloaded the project kickoff template for Word, you’ll find a blank outline of what you’ll need to discuss and pass on to the project team. As stated earlier, the template can be changed to address anything you want to include but is not currently laid out in the project kickoff template.
We’ve included a section at the top to define the project name, project manager, date of the project kickoff meeting and the date when the project starts. Underneath that is a section to list all the attendees of the meeting. They can also sign off after the name and position in the project for a committment to what was discussed at the kickoff meeting.
Following that is the agenda. We’ll go over each of these items, which can be attached to the document, but should be summarized by the project manager.
Here in the kickoff template is where you explain the why, where and how of the project. Provide the team with some background, the research that went into defining the project and led to its approval. This provides context for the project team so they’re not executing tasks in a void. Instead, they can see their part in the larger picture. Share the data that was part of the project proposal, which was approved by the project stakeholders.
Next you’ll discuss the project scope, which is a detailed description of all the work necessary to complete the project. This work will be defined by the timeline and budget for the project. Here the project team will gain an understanding of the objectives and requirements for the project. The project manager will also give them an idea of the deadline for their deliverables and the costs associated with the work. This allows the project team to have a firmer grasp on the constraints on the project.
The project timeline illustrates the duration of the project and chronologically lists all the project deliverables. This is a roadmap that the project team will follow and lays out the foundation for the larger project schedule, which will include milestones, tasks, dependencies, due dates, resources, costs, etc. The project timeline is important for the project team to know intimately because they’ll be responsible for getting those deliverables done.
Risks, both good and bad, are inevitable. While a risk is an unexpected occurrence, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be planned for. The project manager will create a risk management plan to identify risks, their impact and likelihood of happening as well as potential responses. Risks will be prioritized and assigned to team members so they know how to respond to them if they occur.
Roles and Responsibilities
Everyone on the project team has specific roles and responsibilities. To avoid conflict down the line, the project manager needs to make these roles and responsibilities explicit. Everyone on the project team should understand what their part in the project is before they leave that project kickoff meeting. Think of it as a job description that outlines what they have to do, who they report to and the organizational structure of the project.
Related: Free RACI matrix template for Excel
Methods and Tools
Here, the project manager will explain which project management methodology will be used to manage the project. There are many, ranging from the more traditional and structured, such as waterfall, to those that are iterative and incremental, like working in an agile environment that is open to change. The methodology chosen will inform the project management software used, as different approaches require different tools. There might be training involved depending on the experience of the team, but all this will be discussed in the kickoff meeting.
Who Should Use This Project Kickoff Template?
The project kickoff template will be first used by the project manager. They are the one who leads the meeting and will define the agenda. The project manager often conducts two project kickoff meetings, an internal one for the project team and then an external one for the project stakeholders, sponsors, etc.
The project team is in attendance for the kickoff meeting, but they often leave with a copy of the project kickoff. It’s an important set of documents that define and direct the project. Therefore, it’s a valuable resource for the people who will be executing the project. Though they can always seek guidance from the project manager if they have further questions.
Related Project Kickoff Templates
The project kickoff template is but one of dozens of free project management templates for Excel and Word that you can download from our site. We have free templates that cover every phase of the project, from initiation to close. Here are a few that are related to the project kickoff that you can download for free right now.
Our free project charter template for Word documents the high-level information of the project. It includes everything you need, from the executive summary to the project plan. There’s also sections of project organization, project scope, deliverables and much more.
After the project kickoff comes the planning phase of the project. Use our free project plan template for Word to capture your project scope, milestones and detail all the phases. You’ll also be able to create a schedule, budget and risk management plan.
The project budget is an important part of the kickoff meeting. Use our free project budget template for Excel to get an accurate estimate of your project costs, from labor to materials and even travel, equipment and more.
How ProjectManager Takes Your Project Kickoff Template Further
These templates can help you during the initiation phase of the project and with the kickoff meeting, but once you move into the planning, execution, control and monitoring phases then a static template will become frustratingly limited. Project management software, though, can give you the effectiveness and flexibility you need to deliver success. ProjectManager helps you plan, manage and track project work in real time. Let’s look at some of the features that schedule and monitor your project’s progress and performance.
Schedule Projects on Powerful Gantt Charts
Why spend all that time creating a timeline and identifying deliverables in your project, when you can organize all that and much more on our Gantt chart? We link all four types of task dependencies to help you avoid costly delays. You can filter for the critical path without having to go through complicated calculations and quickly identify essential from non-essential tasks. Then, when you have scheduled the project with resources and costs, set a baseline to track schedule and cost variance in real time to help you stay on track.
Monitor Progress and Performance on Real-Time Dashboards
Once you’re executing the project, you’ll want to keep track of what your team is doing without getting in their way. Our real-time dashboard automatically tracks progress and performance once you set a baseline in the Gantt chart, so you always have a high-level view of the project whenever you want. Unlike lightweight tools there’s no time-consuming set up. Just toggle over to the dashboard and get live data on time, cost, workload and more displayed in easy-to-read graphs and charts.
Related Project Kickoff Content
If you’re not ready to upgrade, but you’re still hungry to learn more about project kickoff, then check out some of the related content we have published on our site. ProjectManager is more than great project management software, we’re an online hub for all things project management, with multiple blogs posted weekly, tutorial videos, guides, eBooks and, of course, free templates. Here are a few project kickoff-related content.
- The Only Project Kickoff Checklist You’ll Ever Need
- Project Kickoff Meeting: How to Write a Kickoff Meeting Agenda
- 10 Project Meetings to Guide Your Project Management Team
ProjectManager Turns Kickoff Meetings Into Successful Projects
Download our free project kickoff template for Word and make sure you start your project off right. Then use ProjectManager to manage tasks, resources and risks to keep your project on schedule and delivered without overspending. Use our automated workflows to streamline your processes and task approvals to ensure quality. Plus, keep stakeholders informed with our customizable reports. Get started today with ProjectManager.