Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Kick-Off Meeting

Regardless of what industry you may work in as a Project Manager, every initative must be introduced to your team at a kick-off meeting.  While some kick-off meetings involve client stakeholders, this entry is about the internal kick-off - the objective, the agenda and outcomes.

Objective:  The objective, or purpose, of the kick-off meeting is to provide context to your team.  Who is the client and what are trying to achieve with this initiative?  What business are they in?  A Project Manager must also do some housekeeping at the kick-off.  Review your approach for project development, identify milestone dates and allow the team to air any concerns they have related to delivering the project on time or within budget.  The kick-off is a great opportunity for resources to identify potential project risks.  For this reason, each internal resource that will touch the project must attend the kick-off meeting.  No matter how small you believe their contribution may be, get as many poinst of view as possible to ensure no detail has been overlooked.

Agenda:  You want to keep the agenda fairly high-level, and allow your team to delve into areas they want to explore in more depth.  Your agenda should include client objectives, audience, website features, project timeline, and risks.  Each item should be presented as a bulleted list.  You want to give the team quick snippets of information and allow them to guide the conversation. This should happen naturally, as long as you allow open dialogue throughout the meeting.

Outcomes:  At the end of the meeting, you should have a list of additional questions/ considerations you can bring back to the client.  If you schedule a client kick-off to occur after your internal meeting, you will be able to present these questions at the client meeting.  It's also important to follow-up and address any team concerns internally.  If you're going to ask the team to contribute at a kick-off, do not disregard the points they bring up. 

The internal team kick-off is often the first chance a Project Manager has to discuss a new initiative with her resources.  Make the most of it by positioning the meeting as a round table discussion.  The comments and questions the team poses may help define important details of the project, avoiding potential disaster along the way.


  1. I think it's worth mentioning that making a project brief available to the team before the kickoff meeting, with the expectation that they will read it(!), makes the discussion more useful for everyone.

  2. Lynda - I agree with you entirely. Allowing the team to review any available collateral prior to the internal kick-off will make them better-prepared to contribute and ask questions.