Every project team probably cares about a good entrance into the project with the conviction that they can achieve the goal within a specified time and budget. That is why the kick-off meeting is such a critical element of every project.
The kick-off meeting is the best opportunity to set the tone for the coming weeks and months of work. Therefore, we do not have to worry whether the budget has already been used, or the work schedule has been exceeded, or the project’s business goal has been achieved. There is a full agreement between the project team and the client.
There is one more important aspect of a good kick-off meeting. Thanks to the knowledge of the elements needed to conduct this type of meeting, we can also determine what information we need to get from the client in the pre-project phase.
We can assume that the kick-off meeting not only allows you to define what will happen next in the project but also what should be done before the project starts.
How to prepare for a kick-off meeting?
The best way to get your project on the right course from the beginning is to prepare a solid agenda for a kick-off meeting.
Elements of a good kick-off meeting:
- Team presentation
- The vision of the project presentation
- Scope and Deliverables
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Communication and Meeting Plans
Let’s look at them more closely.
Taking a short time to introduce each person at the kick-off meeting can help to relax the atmosphere and, most importantly, to create a more collaborative atmosphere.
We have to remember that it will be the first contact for most people, especially since it is a meeting attended by almost everyone involved in the project. Creating the right atmosphere allows for a freer exchange of ideas and smoother and faster communication in the later stages of the project.
What to prepare before the meeting?
- Collect necessary information about the people involved in the project on the client’s side
- Select a team that will work on the project
Vision of the project presentation
Why do we need a map if we do not know the goal?
Having an extensive project scope does not convey the project’s overall purpose to us, resulting in the client’s business needs not being understood. Each feature that enters the project’s scope should have its business justification. A specific vision allows everyone not yet familiar with the project scope to understand the ultimate goal.
Elements of a good project vision
- We should define the project vision before the kick-off meeting, and it should be formulated by the client and officially placed in the project offer or backlog.
- The vision can be formulated with special sheets and templates, but there is not one suitable formula for its definition.
- The project’s vision shouldn’t be too extensive, but it should explain what the goal is to be achieved after completing the programming work.
Scope and Deliverables
How to recognise a good project scope? First of all, we can quickly determine what is out of scope. It is the main feature, which allows us to communicate clearly with the client without unnecessary nerves and struggling to determine whether a given functionality is in or out of scope. It also allows for better management of changes in the project and time management.
When discussing the project scope at the kick-off meeting, all points should be addressed at a high level without talking about details. Time for details will come later.
Things worth mentioning at the kick-off meeting
- Technology stack
- Scope declarations – should contain the list of products or services provided after the project’s end. The results should be described in sufficient detail to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretation by stakeholders.
- Acceptance criteria – if the scope declaration lists the products to be done but does not define the criteria they must meet, reaching the desired result is often problematic. Sellers may believe they have delivered exactly what the scope declaration requires. On the other hand, customers may think they have received something completely different.
Of course, if you are going to go into some details, you can do it right away in the meeting. However, you should remember that people who are not involved in the application development process may be attending the meeting. Therefore, their presence in these discussions is unnecessary.
Roles and Responsibilities
Different approaches to project management mean that there are different terms for individual team members. However, one thing is constant – it is the responsibility for individual tasks in the project that must be executed anyway.
In each project, we will have a range of duties that must be planned:
- Someone has to make decisions.
- Another has to drive the project in the right direction.
- Someone has to be responsible for creating the project.
- Someone has to check all of this.
After discussing the project’s goals and results, identify each group, team, or person responsible for each part of the project.
It is important to briefly describe their duties at each stage of the project before the meeting. If everyone understands what is expected of them, you won’t have to waste time replying to unnecessary emails and reassigning tasks assigned to the wrong people.
There is no time for details, so be specific.
The kick-off meeting is usually not the time to dive into specific task deadlines, but it is important to present a high-level project schedule, including any milestones. Not everyone participating in the meeting will be familiar with the applicable deadlines. Also, specific information on this topic will motivate all participants to fulfil their tasks.
Communication and Meeting Plans
The topic seems to be relatively trivial, but as the project’s size increases, adjusting the means of communication and establishing the appropriate channels, both shorten the work time and greatly facilitates the project.
Communicating information through multiple sources may result in many details on particular issues not being reached by all stakeholders, which may result in a misinterpretation.
What to prepare before the meeting:
- Communication channels
- Meeting schedules
- Access for all project participants to repositories, project backlogs, etc.
Thanks to proper preparation for the kick-off meeting and understanding the most important elements of this meeting, you will start the project without any problems and confirm that the project implementation in your hands was entrusted by the client a right decision.