They say, well begun is half done! Now that your next project is about to embark after months of emails & negotiations, it’s time for both parties to meet and finally kickstart the project. It’s showtime for you where the kickoff meeting will decide how the rest of your relationship will unfold with the client. This is your opportunity to excite the team while making your project shine to the stakeholders.

In this post, we will talk about five steps and understand how you can supercharge your next project kickoff meeting and effectively run it to accomplish business success:

Step 1 – Highlight Project Goals & Objectives:

One of the most important and primary parts of an effective project kickoff meeting is the goal & objective alignment. You might have discussed both goals and objectives during the initial project pitch, but reiterating them during the kickoff meeting is a splendid way to reassure the client and get hold of their confidence in you. It allows you to highlight that your company has the requisite knowledge and expertise to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

Your goals & objectives slide must answer key questions such as what is the project about, why is it important to the organization & how is the team going to execute it successfully? At this point, you must discuss and reinforce the goals and highlight details of how your team is going to get it done! If done right, this step can help you cast a lasting impression on the client, showcase your integrity and earn their trust, all at the same time.

Step 2 – Picturize Project Scope, Timeline & Deliverables:

The next step is to jot down details about the project such that all stakeholders understand their respective roles and responsibilities. Once you’re done talking about the project’s goals and objectives, it’s time to highlight the project scope, timelines, and deliverables. The step is imperative because this enables team members to bring out possible concerns about the timelines or budgets. Also, the practice helps you zero down on the client’s expectations for effective delivery of work.

Not only does presenting project scope, timelines, and deliverables during the kickoff meeting bring everybody on the same page, but also eliminates communication or understanding gaps. Presenters can leverage a professional-looking work plan template and efficiently plot project documents such as Statement of Work (SOW), Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), resource allocation, timelines, etc. The step allows you to capture the essence of what result the project will achieve, how much resource is needed, and how long it will take.

Step 3 – Determinate Project Stakeholders & Provide Accountability:

There is no denying that running a project and ensuring the successful delivery of work is a collaborative effort. As a manager, you might be in charge of the project, but to make the whole endeavor booming, you ought to rely on, work along and report to certain people. These people are your project’s stakeholders & it is imperative to identify them even before the project’s kickoff. Majoritarily, there are two main types of stakeholders in any project, internal & external.

Where internal stakeholders are mostly your people such as team members, fellow managers, or executives, external stakeholders are customers, suppliers, compliance regulators, or investors. Start by asking yourself who are the stakeholders for this project, identify them and plot for everybody to see during the kickoff. Once you’re deep in the project execution, there will be a lot of different plates spinning at any one time. Identifying stakeholders boosts communication, eliminates gaps, and makes them accountable for their respective tasks, actions, and activities.

Step 4 – Capture Key Dependencies:

Say you’re undertaking a software project and have to architect, build, test and deploy an application. Developers can’t begin with coding if architects aren’t done planning the system design. Similarly, the testers can’t stress-test the product if it’s still in the development phase. Therefore, it doesn’t matter the industry or scale, there isn’t a single project that doesn’t have a dependency!

Going by definition, a project dependency is a situation where an activity, task, or milestone is dependent on the other, without which the former can not be initiated or completed. Managers must recognize that dependencies are part and parcel of any project execution and should be catered to allow a project’s delivery. The dependencies must be identified and tracked across the project’s timespan. A project kickoff meeting is the best occasion to plot those dependencies for everybody to take into account.

Step 5 – Progress Tracking:

According to a report by FinancesOnline, over 29% of projects fail due to poor tracking of effort. Now that you’ve begun your journey on the new project and things are off to a good start, project execution is always prone to go off the track. Although tracking or monitoring the project might seem a trivial task, it is enough to draw a line between success and failure. As a manager looking forward to an informative and engaging project kickoff meet, the goal should be to explain how you will track the progress.

Managers can consider leveraging reporting tools to effectively monitor progress. Further, you can consider setting up and showcasing SMART (Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-Bound) goals during the kickoff. Using project management and tracking tools helps you efficiently estimate the resource effort and track/report daily progress. In addition to automated tracking tools, leaders can also consider using project management dashboard templates and seamlessly track progress.

Step 6 – Risk Mitigation & Management Toolkit:

Communicating with the stakeholders about how you want to identify and respond to risks or issues goes a long way in making the project kickoff a success. There is no denying that even with the best planning, a project may still hit some blockers now and then. This is your chance to highlight your project’s risk mitigation and management practices to the client and external parties.

Managers can demonstrate how they and their team will work on continuously identifying, analyzing & mitigating risks apart from their day-to-day project deliverables. Risk mitigation & management not only empowers teams to prepare for contingencies or maximize the outcome, but it also goes a long way in building rapport with the client. Showcase that the team is equipped to handle the unexpected and earn the loyalty & trust of the client.

The End Line:

It doesn’t matter if you’re a team lead, manager, or individual contributor to the project, the above tips help you plan engaging and effective project kickoff meetings. A project kickoff is a major moment for all the stakeholders involved. This is your chance to align agendas, document expectations, and set a tone for the rest of the professional relationship.

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