A good practice in project management is to hold a formal kickoff meeting to ensure all team members and key stakeholders have a good understanding of the purpose and objectives of the project. The kick-off meeting ensures that team members and stakeholders have the same levels of understanding about the purpose and status of the project. Just as a project should have a formal end-of-project meeting to signify that it is complete, it also makes sense to hold a formal kickoff meeting to start a project.
The purpose of the kickoff meeting is to formally notify all stakeholders that the project has begun and make sure everyone has a common understanding of the project and his or her role. The kickoff meeting is a time to get all the team members and stakeholders together and formally set the stage for the start of the project. Like all formal meetings, there should be an agenda.
A kick-off meeting has four basic functions:
- Officially state the start of the project
- Outline the project goals as well as the individual roles and responsibilities of team members; and stakeholders
- Clarify the expectations of all parties
- Build a commitment by all those who influence the project’s outcome.
There are a number of specific things to cover at this meeting:
- Recap the information in the Project Charter, including:
- The purpose of the project
- Major deliverables
- Estimated effort and budget
- Discuss the important roles and responsibilities of the project team and stakeholders.
- Go over the general approach and timeline of the project. This gives people a sense of how the project will unfold. In particular to ensure that people understand what they need to be doing in the short-term to support the project.
- Discuss and answer any outstanding questions. The purpose of the discussion is to allow people to voice specific questions or concerns they have as the project begins
The meeting can run anywhere from 2 hours to a full day depending on the size of the project and how much group time you want to spend on several project kickoff discussions and related deliverables. At the end of the kickoff meeting, the project team is ready to work with a common understanding of goals and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities.