Start your project with a Kick-off Meeting!

by Gabriella Martin

When about to start a new project which has a whole lot of stakeholders involved, it is important that everyone is on the same page! Everyone must have the same idea of the timeline and resources that will be needed to complete the project and have the opportunity to ask questions! A proven method to start a great project with all stakeholders is a ‘Kick-off’ meeting. This is sometimes also called a kick-off event. Such a kick-off event is an important part of project management in many organizations, as objectives can be discussed and individuals taking part in the project are able to connect and share the same vision for the project and its outcomes.

In order for a kick-off event/ meeting to achieve its goals, a lot needs to be considered and planned. But what exactly is behind it? In this blog, you will learn everything about goals, participants, preparation, agenda and the digitization of the all-mighty kick-off meeting!

1. What is a kick-off meeting?
Depending on the specific organizations structure and working methods, the concept of a kick-off meeting may differ. However, it is generally agreed that the kick-off program for a new project is attended by the project participants as well as the other stakeholders identified. The kick off meeting really encompasses the project environment analysis and a SWOT analysis for the overall result.

2. What are the objectives of a kick-off meeting?
The goals of a kick-off meeting are many and varied depending on the project at hand! But, usually they are there primarily to provide a collaborative start to the new project, to promote motivation, and to gain support among the participants and stakeholders for the success of the project.

Of course, the individual responsible for explain and informing the members of what the project entails is very important. Their role is really to bring all participants to a common level of knowledge and to create a uniform understanding. The Key topics include:

– A clear project goal – what is to be achieved?
– Why and how the project supports corporate strategy
– The vision behind the project – what is expected in the future?
– the significance of the project for the company and the client
– The general conditions, e.g. personnel, duration, scope and budget

A major benefit of Kick-off meetings is coordination and transparency for all involved. After a kick-off meeting each employee should also know what tasks he or she has, whether he or she is responsible for certain areas or whom to contact if they have further questions, or hit any roadblocks. Moreover, everyone must have a clear idea of what intervals results are to be reported back and reviewed on.

Detailed coordination and allocation is important when discussing these meetings, because in many cases the kick-off meeting is also an event for colleagues and teams who may not see each other in person to connect before the project progresses.

The meeting is particularly relevant because: All project participants come together, including those from other departments or locations. The kick-off meeting may be the only instance where this is the case! The event is the biggest and most important opportunity to convince all contributors, managers and decision-makers about the project and thus also to promote motivation.

3. Good planning sets the tone
Careful planning and execution is also essential for success of a project. At a kick-off event, you are able to shape the first impression that all participants get of the project together. If the event is chaotic, incomplete or insufficiently organized, this may also rub off on the colleagues’ expectations of the project in general. Therefore, it is so important that the event runs smoothly and that you are very organised to answer any questions individuals may have.

The kick-off meeting is especially helpful if you don’t regularly work on new projects as an organisation. It helps even more to go through the entire project plan together and strengthen the team structure for the next challenge that could lie ahead. But even with a lot of project experience, the kick-off meeting is a good way to focus on the next project.

4. Client as an important participant
For the meeting to achieve its impact and goals, all key parties should attend. At a minimum, this includes all project stakeholders, from the project manager to other leaders and individual team members. However, for a successful kick-off event, representatives of the project’s own management as well as the client should also participate- again this is useful for any questions that need to be answered.

The client is the decisive factor of the project, because without the client the project would not come to fruition. It is therefore all the more important to find a date and setting that allows for the clients participation.

With collaboration with the clients, this also strengthens the project manager and client relationship, who can thus win over other executives and decision-makers as supporters within his own organization. If there are other stakeholders involved in the project or company, they should also participate in the initial kick-off meeting.

5. How do you prepare a kick-off meeting?
The preparation of a kick-off meeting is very extensive, because the meeting must be meticulously planned and organized. The project must also be precisely worked out so that the meeting can fulfil its goals. The contents of the kick-off meeting therefore correspond to the project plan, which defines the path of the project for everyone to have clear.

Some items that belong on a checklist to censure a successful kick-off event includes:

– Determining the meeting objective and content: What do you definitely want to accomplish and communicate?
– Determining the participants: Who should not be absent? Also make sure to contact stakeholders and company in a timely manner.
– Topics and slots: Which topics should be addressed? How much time will be given to the topics?
– Create schedule: What is the schedule for the meeting? Draw it up and send it to all participants well in advance, at least one day before.
– Organize premises: Make sure the venue is suitable for large group with discussions.
– Provide equipment: What equipment do you need for the presentation and how can it be used in the designated space? Make sure it is available and functional by testing beforehand.
– Ensure that the results of the meeting are recorded in the meeting minutes so that they are summarized in a comprehensible way for future reference.

To ensure that the event runs smoothly and on time, you should determine the schedule of the Kick-off meeting beforehand. Based on the schedule created for this purpose (including buffers), you can schedule the most important blocks as well as breaks for the event.

Often, a kick-off meeting begins with an address by the client to immediately emphasize the importance and to arouse the interest of colleagues. The project manager then talks about the exact goals, explains the significance of the project for the company’s own organization and explains the project schedule including the division of roles and tasks.

In addition, the rules for cooperation in the project are also established, for example on communication or documentation. Feedback is then collected, questions and answers are exchanged, and consultation is held with all participants to clarify any ambiguities or misunderstandings.

The kick-off event can also be the first working session or lead into it, if the planning is far enough advanced, the allocation of tasks and roles is clear and the questions are clarified. This is best achieved with a suitable project management tool.

6. Digitize the meeting with project management tools
In order to be able to start working directly in the context of your kick-off meeting, the software Allegra, for example is incredibly useful. If you are able to present onto a screen for everyone to see, you van begin scheduling in all the necessarily items and compiling the workload straight away. You can also ask attendees to bring their device with them to the kick-off event and can have everyone log onto Allegra from there and get organised from the word go.

All in all, Kick-off meetings and events are a fantastic way to ensure success of a project. Keep the goals and objectives of the project in the forefront of the meeting and be open to any questions which might be raised by the participants. The ability to resolve any questions there and then in the kick-off meeting might lead to a reduction in delays – which is awesome! Try and keep the meetings somewhat entertaining and fun, because should they be boring and dreary, the motivation to complete a successful project for the clients will be difficult to build.

Hopefully this blog gave you a little insight into the exact meaning and benefits around starting off every project with a fantastic kick-off event. The ability to motivate staff and team members and share ideas and thoughts straight away will be of huge value in the overall result of the project. And Allegra is truly a project and task management tool which will assist with your success every step of the way.

If you enjoyed this blog you will certainly be interested in the following blogs to:

Great Time- Keeping Apps: Time is Money
5 Essential Home Office Tools for Remote Teams

Back to overview