It is crucial to the success of a project that the project launch meeting covers the appropriate themes and specifics. A kickoff meeting’s objective is to develop a common knowledge of the project’s specifics, approach, procedures, dates, deliverables, and more. To ensure that everything is accounted for, it is essential to develop an agenda before the meeting.
What is not said at a project launch meeting is as crucial. You do not want to overwhelm guests with non-mission-critical material at that time. Adhere to the agenda and schedule additional meetings if necessary to cover extraneous items.
This post is a complement to our downloadable agenda for the project start meeting. Follow the steps below as you fill out the form to build an ironclad agenda.
What Should Be Covered In The Pre-Client Project Kickoff Meeting?
As noted in earlier articles on project kickoffs, it is frequently beneficial to hold a pre-client kickoff meeting prior to the main client project kickoff meeting. This is most effective as a one-on-one meeting between the project manager and the client lead, which may be as easy as grabbing coffee or lunch together.
The objective of this initial meeting is to obtain particular information from the customer without a panel of guests who may have divergent perspectives or a less solid understanding of the new project. It is also an excellent chance to begin establishing a rapport with the customer.
Although each client meeting demands a unique agenda, you should attempt to address these project management fundamentals. So that you can fit the following into a 60-minute meeting , we’ve designed this sample pre-client project launch agenda with approximate timings:
- Introductions — some friendly chatter (5 mins)
- Examine the project teams to determine who is responsible for what. (3 mins)
- Approval procedure – the procedure and individuals for approving deliverables. (3 mins)
- Review of the Statement of Work – what are we doing, when, how, and what are we producing? (20 mins)
- Discuss RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) and change management – what is the client’s strategy and attitude toward risk and change management? (3 mins)
- Reporting – how will we track and communicate the project’s development, and to whom? (3 mins)
- Collaboration – what instruments will we utilize to collaborate? (3 mins)
- What do we need to get started in terms of assets? (5 mins)
- What topics will be discussed during the client kickoff? (5 mins)
- AOB – is there anything more we should discuss? (5 mins)
Introductions – Some Warm And Fuzzy Banter (5 mins)
As long as your client hasn’t brought the full project team along, this is an opportunity to have a heart-to-heart in order to better manage the project and avoid unpleasant surprises.
It is advisable to begin with, a basic icebreaker, such as asking how their week is going or what their weekend plans are. The objective is to get to know your customer outside of the framework of the project and to build a connection and degree of trust that will sustain you during the project’s ups and downs.
Review The Project Team – Who’s Responsible For What? (3 mins)
In the real kickoff meeting, roles and duties will be reviewed with the entire project team. Therefore, the goal of addressing the project team here is to learn and share knowledge on team dynamics.
You’re attempting to get insight into who will be participating in the project and to what extent. You want to discover the most effective strategy to engage them so they will contribute to the success of the project. It is extremely useful to know who the project’s allies or backers are and who is likely to cause problems.
It’s also a chance to market the resources you’ve reserved for the project so that the client feels confident in the team that will be attending the client launch meeting. By providing them with some behind-the-scenes information about your team, you will ideally elicit information about the personalities who might have a positive or negative influence on the project.
Approval Process – The Process And Personnel For Signing Off Deliverables? (3 mins)
After defining the team and working through the “who’s who” of the project teams, it is simple to move into governance and determine who will need to sign off on what during the project. It is necessary to establish in the SoW what is envisaged in terms of timing approval and revision rounds.
You’re attempting to gain insight from the customer on the viability of the process you’ve assumed in your SoW. Is the timeframe sufficient? Are there sufficient revision cycles accounted for in the SoW? Some team members may be challenging to schedule meetings or approvals. Are they on vacation during the course of the project?
SoW Review – What Are We Doing, When, How, And What Will We Produce?
This is likely the most essential item on the agenda for defining levels. Thus, a large amount of effort should be devoted to it. You must have addressed this in-depth prior to the real launch meeting in order to be aligned with expectations.
This is an opportunity to walk the client through your draught SoW in granular detail, which includes describing how the project will be managed, what tasks can be performed and to what degree (within the specified budget and timetable), and what deliverables will be produced. It is essential that you highlight review cycles, dependencies, and assumptions so that everyone understands what the project will finally provide.
If you wait until the’real’ client launch meeting to discuss the SoW, the dynamics of a big client team exchanging perspectives on what should be in and out of scope are seldom attractive. Discussing the project’s scope is best done in small meetings with the customer, where you can have a conversation without it becoming a round-table dispute.
Discuss RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) And Change Management – What’s The Client’s Attitude And Approach To Managing Risk And Change? (3 mins)
As part of the conversation on the SoW, it is important to highlight the client’s choice for addressing risks and concerns, as well as their openness to change. If possible, compile a risk or RAID log in advance of your meeting and review it as part of your conversation. Establish throughout the duration of the project lifetime that you will be open and collaborative in identifying and addressing risks and concerns.
The client’s comprehension of the budget’s wiggle room will be to your advantage. Asking the client whether there is sufficient funding to pivot the project if new possibilities arise – such as further rounds of design development, product buildout, or user testing – is a great approach to frame the question.
Also, don’t forget to discuss the usage of contingency and have everyone on the same page on what the contingency is for and how it may be utilized; is it a risk and problem budget, or to it accommodate slight adjustments as the project progresses? Recommend a technique for how you believe it should be utilized so that it is clear what you will do if something unanticipated arises on the project.
Reporting – How Will We Track And Communicate Project Progress, And To Whom? (3 mins)
For the purpose of monitoring project progress, a status report including the project’s budget, timeframe, particular tasks, and milestones will be required. Similarly to how you will need to prepare to demonstrate how you plan to manage risk, it is important to produce a status report that you can share with the client to confirm that the format and level of content meet their needs.
Getting the structure and specifics of your status report correct might be crucial, as it is often related to invoicing. You must guarantee that the customer receives the appropriate degree of continuing information so that they do not delay payment of invoices. To facilitate this, track the budget on your status report alongside the future invoice amount and billing date.
Determine the distribution list for the status report so that everyone who needs to know what’s happening with the project gets informed. It is usually preferable to release the report to a larger audience than technically required so that no one can claim ignorance in the event that something goes awry.
Collaboration – What Tools Will We Use To Work Together? (3 mins)
The majority of project managers and teams define their default collaboration toolbox. Make a strategy with your team on how you’ll encourage cooperation, regardless of whether you’re using Basecamp, Jira, Trello, or Kanbanize, so that you can share with the client a plan of what tools you’ll use and how you’ll utilize them.
Then, confirm with the customer that they are satisfied with the selected toolkit and may use the platform to share files, information, and progress updates and conduct project-related discussions.
Assets – What Do We Need To Get Started? (5 mins)
There is always “stuff” required before initiatives can begin in earnest. Make a list of everything you need to remember to ask the customer in order of importance so that they may address the most important topics first.
- Authentication – CMS, analytic, social, and picture libraries
- Brand – logos, typefaces, style guides, templates
- Repo – site files, databases
- VPN — to access the intranet of a client
- To whom should invoices be addressed? Who endorses them?
Kickoff Agenda – What Will We Discuss In The Client Project Kickoff? (5 mins)
This is a chance to review the agenda for the “actual” launch meeting. To ensure that the project launch meeting is productive, the client must complete some preparatory work. At a minimum, you will need to request that they develop a project background and project briefing for the launch meeting.
Rather than attempting to convey poorly what you believe the brief to be, I find it quite helpful to have the customer do this. Invariably, you’ll overlook something vital and anger someone in the room, but if you can persuade the customer to do it, you’re great!
AOB – Anything Else That We Need To Discuss? (5 mins)
Conclude the session with a list of clearly defined next steps and a chance for the customer to bring up anything else. Frequently, even posing the question, “Is there anything else we should know?” is sufficient to elicit information from clients that they had not previously disclosed.
Lastly, be sure to conclude in a positive tone. It’s an opportunity to build rapport and get to know them better; find out what they like to do outside of work, what they’re streaming on Netflix, and what sports they follow. Prepare the groundwork for getting to know them as individuals so you have something to discuss with them when you next contact them.
Remember To Share The Good News
Do not hoard all of your newly acquired information. Return to your team and brief them on your talk with the customer so that they are adequately prepared for the project start meeting.
Let’s move on to an agenda for the formal client project launch meeting now that we’ve covered what should be discussed at a pre-client kickoff meeting.
What Should Be Covered In A Project Kickoff Meeting?
There is a benefit in discussing the project kickoff agenda essentials to ensure that the team and client are on the same page. So that you can fit the following within a 1.5-hour meeting, we’ve designed this sample client project start agenda with approximate timings:
- Who is working on the project, and what is their function? (15 mins)
- Context of the project — how does this document fit into the larger strategy and other projects? (10 mins)
- What are the business challenge and customer requirements? (30 mins)
- Success — how will we know whether we have been successful and what has previously failed? (10 mins)
- Review timetable, deliverables, risk, roles, reporting, estimate, and change management for project management. (10 mins)
- What have we not discussed that we should have? (10 mins)
- What are the following actions to keep the project moving forward? (5 mins)
Introductions: Who’s Working On The Project, And What’s Their Role? (15 mins)
At the outset of a project launch meeting, it is customary for participants to introduce themselves and exchange business cards. In a meeting with many project stakeholders and a big agency team, it is possible that not everyone will be able to contact one another before the meeting begins.
Spending a bit more time on introductions is preferable to just going around the room and having everyone state their name and job description to ensure that everyone is aware of their roles, responsibilities, and emphasis on the project. Knowing only a person’s name and occupation is rather worthless!
Ideally, you will have contacted the client in advance to find out who will be attending the kickoff meeting. However, as you learn more about people’s responsibilities, it is essential to define the project governance and approval procedure.
After individuals have described their duties, ensure that you conclude the conversation by determining who is the single point of contact, who is responsible for which deliverables, who must sign off on which deliverables, and who else will be participating in the process.
A result of this dialogue, or even in real-time on a whiteboard, is a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix for the deliverables and team. The RACI will assist in mitigating any accountability ambiguity and highlighting project periods requiring intensive project management collaboration.
Project Background – How Does This Brief Fit Into The Broader Strategy And Other Projects? (10 mins)
This portion of the kickoff meeting should be led by the customer; you will need to provide them with a brief in advance to prepare. It’s a chance to learn about the project’s history, identify certain success themes, identify possible issues with overlap between projects, and identify prospective future initiatives.
You should address:
- What is your general company strategy?
- How do the project objectives relate to the strategic plan?
- What initiatives have before and will likely follow this one?
- Which more projects will be affected by this undertaking?
Project Briefing – What’s The Business Problem And Customer Need? (30 mins)
Again, the customer should lead the project briefing, and you will need to provide them with a brief to prepare for the meeting. It’s a chance for them to share project-specific information with us so that we may gain a deeper knowledge of their business and the problem they’ve hired us to address.
This is an excellent time to ask the client how this ties to the customer’s requirement; frequently, clients do not consider this while preparing. You should request that they exclude whatever they deem unnecessary for comprehension.
- Customer research, insights & surveys
- Analytics & data
- Technology stack
Success – How Will We Know If We’ve Been Successful And What’s Failed Before? (10 mins)
In order for a project to be successful, you must comprehend what success entails; it varies from project to project, even for the same customer. Delivering a project within the restrictions of time, budget, and scope is only the beginning; you must also understand what success means to the project’s main stakeholders.
This begins with comprehending the client’s underlying strategy and the strategic significance of the project. Why does the customer want us to construct a new application or website? What are they trying to accomplish? What mistakes did the prior agency or vendor make? What are the key performance indicators? Ensure they are SMART — Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound — so we can measure against them, demonstrate success, and quantify value.
Project Management – Review Timeline, Deliverables, Roles, Reporting, And Change Management (10 mins)
There are always tasks that need to be completed prior to the official commencement of a project, and they can be documented in a contact report.
- Review timetable – Present a high-level project plan with main phases and milestones to ensure that all stakeholders and project sponsors are aligned on the sequencing of activities and that any dependencies that may effect the timeframe are clearly outlined.
- Review deliverables – you should have already had a conversation with the client about the Statement of Work and aligned on activities, deliverables, common goals, and any assumptions, but in the meeting with the broader stakeholder group, it’s worthwhile to summarise the deliverables and milestones to ensure that no one is expecting anything else.
- Review roles and duties – identify the day-to-day point of contact and those with whom particular components or deliverables should be shared.
- Understand who will be engaged in the signoff and approval process and how long it will take to receive approval on deliverables since this may affect the schedule.
- Review communication strategy – consider how you will handle project status reporting to assess budget use and billing effect and how often you will communicate project status. It is advantageous to have a sample status report available.
- Shared Risk, Issue, and Change Management – comprehend the client’s perspective on risk and discuss your collaborative strategy for managing it.
AOB – What Haven’t We Discussed That We Should? (10 mins)
It is helpful to conclude the meeting by allowing the customer to bring up whatever they like to discuss.
Next – What Are The Next Steps To Keep The Project Moving? (5 mins)
Guarantee that you conclude the meeting with clearly defined next actions and a summary of what the client will need to do to keep the project moving forward, as well as what you will do to ensure that the project milestones are met. After the inaugural meeting, follow up through email to verify that the next steps and action items are clear.
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