Project Kickoff Meeting Checklist: The Project Manager’s #1 Tool

If you are an up and coming 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 ‚Äì 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 Post-Mortems

Post-mortems are an excellent opportunity for us to assess all we have done in the past and see how we can improve on 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.

In summary, project kickoff checklist is a vital tool for every project manager. Without it, a project manager could be left wondering in the dark.

Trending Project Management Software

If you’re interested in learning more about top-rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:

1 monday.com

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monday.com Work OS is an award-winning no-code work management platform that helps teams manage projects and workflows more efficiently.

Used by 152,000+ customers worldwide, this fully customizable software lets you plan, manage, and track every project in one place. monday.com offers time-saving and easy-to-use features such as automations, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time collaboration. Multiple board views such as Gantt and Kanban help you structure and navigate tasks and projects the way you prefer, and dashboards give a high-level overview of your progress.

In addition, integrations with apps such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and Excel, allow you to easily continue working with your favorite tools from within the platform. monday.com also offers dedicated solutions, such as monday dev and monday sales CRM, designed to answer the needs of specific industries.

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2 Wrike

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Wrike is the most powerful work management platform on the market, enabling teams to plan projects and collaborate in real time. Our award-winning software is trusted by 20,000+ companies across the globe, including Sony, Estée Lauder, and Siemens.

Wrike’s customizable features include Gantt charts, request forms, dashboards, cross-tagging, time tracking, and proofing. Integrate with 400+ apps from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce. Automate repetitive tasks and achieve 50% faster planning. Work from anywhere with 100% access to your files via our mobile and desktop apps.

Whether you’re a small startup or an established brand, Wrike has the solution for you. Paid plans start at $9.80/user/month. Join our community of 2.3 million — start your free two-week trial today.

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3 Smartsheet

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Smartsheet is a leading work execution platform that has real-time work management features, collaboration and automation tools. Users are presented with a familiar and easy-to-use spreadsheet-like interface. However, it has enterprise-grade capabilities that even Fortune 500 companies like Cisco, Bayer, HP, and PayPal are confident to adopt in their business. Strong project management features enable teams to utilize different views of real-time data, and switch easily from Gantt, card, grid and calendar views. Smartsheet has automatic update requests, and can be used for waterfall and agile projects, product launch, sprint planning, and more. The resource management feature provides users the visibility who is busy, and who is not, in real-time. They can also attach files, share sheets, get notified, view the activity log, export, email, and print.

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