Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Project Kickoff

Organizing a great project kickoff ensures that the project starts off on the right foot. See, the thing is, a project kickoff doesn’t only signify the launch of a project. It’s also a foundation to work with – it sets a general direction that the team is supposed to head towards.

Why does the Project Kickoff Matter?

When you’re pitching the project to upper management, you probably have a good grasp on what the project entails, what your general direction is, etc.

For project kickoff, though, you’ll really have to dive deep and figure out all the essential details. You’ll have to come up with things such as the general direction and vision, team member responsibilities, KPIs, and a bunch of other things.

Then, you’ll have to communicate all that with your team on the project kickoff meeting, ensuring that everyone knows what they’re getting into. As you could’ve guessed, if you don’t start the project the right way, your team might be left pretty clueless.

6 Steps to a Succesful Project Kickoff

Step #1: Identify Project Goals & Vision

You’ve won the senior management over with your project. Now you have to do the same with your team. You’ll have to communicate what the project is about, exactly, and why it matters. The way you do this really does matter – your team needs to be motivated enough and know that what you’re working towards is really significant in the grand scheme of things.

If the project is something they’ve been forced into by their supervisor, they won’t be too happy to give their all and participate.

Step #2: Get the Right Team Together

You’ll need to make sure you have everyone you need for the project. If you realize you need someone new sometime mid-way to project completion, you’ll have to onboard them from the beginning, and that can be very time-consuming. Make sure to get people from different departments, as well as someone from the senior management (if the project is about process re-engineering, for example, and needs the approval from management to really make some changes).

Then, you’d want to put down all the project team member information in one place. Think, names, departments, how to contact, etc. Make sure to get several different ways to contact the employees, however. While an e-mail can work most of the time, there are times you might have to get them on the line ASAP.

Step #3: Define the Right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Timeline

You can’t really tell whether a project is successful or not without the right means of measuring it. There are usually 2 ways of doing this, depending on the type of the project. If it’s something marketing related, you’d go for KPIs. i.e, you’d measure online traffic, conversion rate, profit growth, and so on. This is essential for both internal and external projects – but your boss and an external client would want to see what the ROI of the project is.

If on the other hand, you’re developing a new product or software, you’d go for a timeline. Meaning, you’d map out the length of the project, and when you’re supposed to have what feature or aspect ready. For your internal team, this provides accountability and ensures that you’ll get the project out on time. For the client, this can be a sort of quality assurance.

Step #4: Project Tools & Methodologies

Meaning, the technical aspects of running a project. To be more specific, you’d have to decide on…

  • Project Management Methodology – As in, how, exactly, you’re going to be doing things. Methodologies such as Scrum, Agile, Kanban, etc.
  • Communication & Planning Tools – tools such as Slack for chat, Skype for online meetings, Tallyfy for process management, etc.
  • Communication Strategy – How often are you going to communicate with your team? Weekly? Monthly? In what form, online or offline?

Step #5: Project Kickoff Meeting Planning

Now that you’ve figured out all the details on how you’ll be running the project, you’ll need to communicate all this with your team through a project kickoff meeting.

First and foremost, you’ll need to notify your team about the meeting in advance. The project kickoff meeting is really something you can’t miss. Ensure that if a team member isn’t able to attend physically, they’re still online to participate in the meeting.

Then, you’ll have to explain everything you’ve planned for the project to your team. Who’s in charge of what, what the general vision is, etc. Unless you’re the type to be really good at winging meeting, you should have an agenda for. So, you should put all this down on paper (or powerpoint). Or, you could even create a project charter, something that’ll end up coming handy throughout the duration of the whole project.

All this, of course, you’ll need to send to your team members in advance so they have an idea on what you’ll discuss on the meeting.

Stage #6: Project Kickoff Meeting

Since you’ve already handled all the planning for the meeting in advance, this one should be a breeze. On the meeting itself, you should talk about…

  • Project Vision and Goals. Give the team a basic overview of the project and what the client’s needs are (if it’s an external project, of course). Share your objectives for the project and your vision for the end results, as well as the KPIs and timeline.
  • Team Introductions. Unless you’re working in a small or medium company, your team members come from a number of different departments. So, introduce yourself to the group and then have everyone on the team introduce themselves by their name and their role on the project. If you’ve already made a contact information file, make sure to share it with everyone.
  • Tools & Communication. What tools / project management methodology you’ll be using and how you’ll be communicating with the team.
  • Define Steps Going Forward. What’s the next step for the project? When’s the next meeting? What are the initial tasks that need to be taken care of?
  • Questions and Answers. Now that you have outlined the project for the team, have a brief question and answer session. This is a great opportunity to have other team members share their feedback and to proactively address any concerns they may have.

Did you already carry out the project kickoff? How did it go, everything as expected? Do you have any tips or tricks that tend to help? Let us know down in the comments!

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