How to prepare and manage a kick-off meeting? 11 tips for success

How to prepare and manage a kick-off meeting? 11 tips for success

Any project launch must begin with a kick-off meeting. This meeting consists of taking stock with the various actors and of a project to ensure its smooth running.

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What is the purpose of the kick-off meeting?

The kick-off meeting is an effective way to successfully launch a project and to sow the seeds of its success for its entire life cycle. This meeting allows participants to give a global and precise vision of the project, its aims and its progress. Organizing a kick-off meeting meets multiple objectives.

  • Present the essential points of the project: objectives, means, deliverables, roles, planning, etc.
  • Identify the strengths, potential difficulties and challenges of the project.
  • Highlight the importance of project implementation.
  • Facilitate the understanding of the progress of the project.
  • Set the operating rules and best practices for carrying out the project.
  • Ensure ownership of the project by all participants.
  • Create a good dynamic and a climate of trust between the different actors of the project.
  • Provide answers to any questions.
  • Unite and motivate the actors of the project around a common objective.
  • Give all participants the opportunity to get to know each other better.
  • Promote exchanges and create links between clients and the project team.

Who to invite to the kick-off meeting?

The people who are going to work, near or far, on the project must participate in the kick-off meeting. The project manager and the members of his team will of course have to attend, but not only. The project launch meeting is open to other people such as:

  • the company’s management ;
  • the services that may be impacted at each stage, such as human resources referents or the marketing team;
  • customers ;
  • providers ;
  • the partners ;
  • external providers;
  • the investors or sponsors of the project.
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How to prepare and manage the kick-off meeting of a project?

1 – Prepare for the project launch meeting in advance

The secret to a successful kick-off meeting lies in its careful preparation. For this meeting to be a success, there is no question of improvising the D-day. Establishing a precise agenda will therefore be the first step. This will include, among other things, the project plan (objectives, risks, tasks, deadlines, responsibilities), a presentation of the participants, the schedule, the tools to be used and the means of communication envisaged. Not to mention a question-and-answer session to close the meeting.

This agenda will then be used to create a PowerPoint-type presentation that will highlight the essential points of the meeting.

Once the content of the kick-off meeting has been established, it’s time for the practical aspects. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the different points to be covered:

  • choose the place, date, time and duration of the meeting;
  • set a schedule and plan break times;
  • draw up a list of all the actors in the project and send them an invitation to the kick-off meeting;
  • send the agenda to all participants along with the invitation;
  • designate a person to take notes during the meeting.

2 – Make the presentations

The kick-off meeting is the first meeting to be held before the launch of a project in the presence of all the stakeholders. So all the participants may not know each other. This is why the meeting must absolutely start with a tour de table so that the project manager and the various speakers can introduce themselves. Each must then at least indicate his name, his first name, his company and his function.

3 – Detail the course of the meeting

Once the introductions are done, it’s time to explain the flow of the kick-off meeting. The project manager must then detail the different stages of the meeting from the agenda established and sent upstream. He therefore presents here the detailed plan what will be said throughout the meeting. By visualizing the course of the meeting, participants will be attentive and more involved in the meeting.

4 – Present the main phases of the project

Each participant does not necessarily know all the aspects that make up the project. So that everyone has the same level of information, it is therefore essential to specify the main phases of the project:

  • the context in which the project was launched;
  • the reasons for starting the project;
  • the issues to which the project responds;
  • the tasks to be performed to complete the project;
  • the due dates;
  • the objectives and deliverables of the project.
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This step ensures that nothing has been forgotten and that the project management approach implemented is suitable for everyone.

5 – Outline the project schedule

Then, the project manager presents the schedule and the various stages necessary for the realization of the project. This is not just about detailing a timeline, but also discussing how the goals are going to be achieved. The schedule must include specific start and end dates for each task. To organize and present this schedule, it is necessary to carry out:

  • a Gantt chart to specify the links between the tasks and the deadlines for completing the tasks;
  • a PERT network to determine the tasks for which no delay can be tolerated.

6 – Define the roles and responsibilities of the project stakeholders

Even if all the actors of the project have been identified upstream, it is important to specify their respective roles in the project. The project manager will explain who does what and why each person has been chosen to carry out one or more specific tasks. To avoid any misunderstanding or uncertainty about the roles and responsibilities of each person within the project, the creation and then the distribution of a RACI matrix will be of great use.

7 – Identify the risks

During the kick-off meeting, the project manager must also present the list of risks that may hinder the smooth running of the project. The objective is then to find ways to manage these risks and avoid the negative effects they could produce. Having the various stakeholders together from the start of a project can create synergy and help find answers to certain issues. Be careful, however, because resistance to change on the part of project stakeholders is one of the risks to be anticipated.

8 – Outline the communication plan

Communication is an essential lever to ensure the success of a project. The project manager will therefore specify who will be informed of what and when. It will also define the means used to communicate with the actors of the project as well as the frequency of the exchanges. Respecting the communication plan allows all stakeholders to take ownership of the project and to have the same level of information on its progress.

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9 – Answer questions from participants

The kick-off meeting, more than a simple informal working meeting, is a moment of conviviality which should encourage and develop exchanges. The participants can thus be brought to raise questions or remarks which the project manager will have to answer. This is why a question-and-answer session must be held at the end of the meeting. The purpose of this session is to ensure that the participants have all understood the project as a whole.

10 – Validate the measures of success

To ensure the smooth running of the project, do not forget to assess the achievement of objectives. For this, it is absolutely necessary to identify the indicators to measure success. The definition of these indicators must necessarily be the subject of a consensus to avoid any dispute when carrying out project evaluations. The kick-off meeting is a privileged moment to broach this subject and obtain this consensus.

11 – Set the next steps

The end of the kick-off meeting does not mean the end of work. To ensure the effectiveness of the meeting, it will be necessary to perform a number of tasks:

  • carry out a debriefing to check that the essential points of the project are retained by the participants;
  • Write the report of the meeting which can serve as a dashboard for the project and send it to all project participants present or not;
  • set the date of the next meeting to ensure the smooth running of the project;
  • regularly follow up on the tasks carried out, in progress and to be done, the budget, the problems encountered and resolved, but also the progress of the project.

To go further, download this free guide and learn how to develop a customer implementation process.Develop a customer implementation process

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