If you are an upcoming project manager, then chances are you would be heading at least one project kickoff meeting during the lifespan of your career. The project kickoff meeting rather is an opportunity for the client, members of the project team, top level management, and stakeholders to familiarize themselves with one another and to get a good perspective of what each individual’s role in the project is.
That being said, a great project kickoff meeting goes a long way in determining just how successful a project would be. It is, therefore, pertinent that the project manager goes into the meeting well prepared as this meeting officially signals the beginning of the project.
The project kickoff meeting provides the perfect opportunity for project managers to:
- Gain approval from the client and stakeholders for certain components of the project
- Properly intimate team members on their roles during the project
- Get everyone on the same page and ensure there are no miscommunications
- Forecast obstacles that could be detrimental to the successful execution of the project.
Project Kickoff Checklist: The Project Manager’s Secret Weapon
Every successful project manager would quickly admit to having some exceptional tools to aid his/her work and top on that list are the project kickoff checklist! A decent party planner would be quick to let you know that you cannot organize a grand, talk-of-the-town party without having a solid plan to make that happen.
As a matter of fact, they are notorious for having color-coded organizers that bear every single detail of the party; the same applies to project manager.
In project management, the color-coded organizer is replaced with a sound project kickoff checklist; this helps the project manager remain organized and ensure he has every aspect of the kickoff meeting covered.
The project kickoff checklist helps everyone attending kickoff meeting get a sense of why they are there and what they hope to take away from the kickoff meeting.
What’s on the kickoff checklist?
1 – General Information
At the top of the list is basic information about the project. It could include the client’s name, the project manager’s name, the title of the project – this is important, especially if the project manager is handling more than 2 projects at the same time. Next, we have the date of the kickoff meeting; feel free to also include the number of persons attending the kickoff meeting.
2 – The All Important Contract
We all know an unsigned contract is not the same as a signed contract. So unless you want to be wasting your time planning a kickoff meeting, ensure you have a signed contract before you proceed to hold the kickoff meeting. This also includes third-party contracts and vendor contracts as well.
3 – Clients Baseline Requirements
The project manager should ensure that the client’s’ baseline requirements are properly documented right from the get-go. This is so that at every phase of the project, everyone has an idea of what the end goal is. It should be noted that the client may decide to modify his needs somewhere down the project line.
4 – The Project Plan
This document is to be distributed to participants of the project kickoff meeting at least 3 days prior to the meeting. This is so that everyone can go through it and prepare their questions on time. This also helps team members locate themselves in the grand scheme of teams and everyone is well aware of what their roles are.
5 – The Project Budget
This also should be documented and disseminated alongside the project plan. It details just how much should be spent on certain components of the project. If you need some helpful hints on how to stay on budget, this post from entrepreneur.com has some useful information.
6 – The Project Schedule
Timelines and milestones are very crucial during project management. Too much time allocated to a particular task could lead to an overshoot of the budget and not enough time could live team members feeling overwhelmed, pressured and just generally anxious. As a matter of fact, this Forbes article lists “impossible goal timeline” as one of the 3 biggest project management problems.
7 – Documentation of Project Management Processes
These include communication, procurement, Change management and risk management.
8 – Project Reviews
Reviews are an excellent opportunity for us to assess all we have done in the past and see how we can improve on or infrastructure and processes.
There are many items that can be included in a project kickoff meeting. A more visually appealing list of Project Kickoff Meeting items is presented by Nutcache and displayed below:
A project kickoff checklist is a vital tool for every project manager. Without it, a project manager could be left wondering in the dark.