Minutes in a Project Kick-off Meeting Can Save Hours
By Anna Korlyakova
The kick-off meeting is a time to review a project’s definition and deliverables as well as accomplish team building. This first project meeting provides the manager with an opportunity to inspire the team, set proper expectations, and establish guidelines that will help to complete the project on time and within budget. In my mind, the following elements are critical for a project team’s effectiveness and motivation:
Defining the vision for a project is not that hard. However, getting others to see it, understand it, share it, and be inspired by it is much harder. The best vision is for naught if your team “does not get it”. Visualizing and explaining the project vision will greatly help at the start when a team is capturing the project vision and understanding project benefits.
It is very important to align the whole team on the same set of priorities and ground rules from the first steps of a project. The challenge is to clearly define those steps.
- What is most important in the project?
- What critical trade-offs in the project is the team empowered to make?
- How is the team going to work together?
- How will planning take place?
- How will decisions be tracked?
- How will change decisions be made?
- How will project team members interact with each other? What behaviors are expected?
The kick-off meeting is also a time to introduce a Project Communication Plan. The Project Communication Plan is a part of the overall project planning process; and organizational factors as well as stakeholder interests must be taken into consideration while choosing the methods used to transfer information among project stakeholders.
Structure and Responsibilities
The goal is to present a structure that is understood and embraced by all stakeholders.
The goal is not limited to creating an organizational chart for the project and explaining all aspects of structure, roles, and responsibilities within the project to the team. A much more demanding task is to achieve full alignment between local and remote participants involved in the project. It is critical to address:
- Who has what level of decision making responsibility in the project?
- Who holds the responsibility for each task?
What’s Useful and what to Avoid in a Project Kick-off Meeting
What is useful
- Provide all participants with supported documentation at least at a day before meeting.
- If you have a new participants in your team try to learn “who is who” before meeting.
- Use visual documentation that is clear from the start.
- Use interactive devices such as screen or whiteboard to add live to meeting flow.
What to avoid
- Giving a huge set of printed materials to participants just before meeting start.
- Using complex details in visual documents.
- Editing project documentation during the meeting. You can prepare and send out them to participants later.
The kick-off meeting is the most critical step in a project because it lays the groundwork for the project planning stage. When you leave the kick-off meeting, everyone on the project team must be on the same page. Your preparation beforehand will determine whether your kick-off meeting will offer the greatest benefit to team members. The minutes of the kick-off meeting can save hours of a project participant’s time, lots of stakeholder money and of course a project manager’s nerves.
Anna Korlyakova is the Marketing Manager of CS Odessa.
Computer Systems Odessa is a leading software development company that builds critical business tools for the desktop. CS Odessa is the maker of Concept Draw, a set of highly functional cross-platform productivity tools.