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Project Kickoffs Improve Project Performance
By Zenkara

We were recently asked about why project kickoffs are important – surely people could just read the Project Management Plan and Project Charter.

Nice in theory – rather more difficult in practice. It’s always better to get everyone in a room (physical or web-based) and make sure everyone understands the fundamental points to the project.

But what to include in a kickoff meeting?

  • Project
    • What is the name of the project?
    • What is the name of the project manager?
  • Scope

    • What is the objective?
    • Who are the customers?
    • What are the expected results?
  • Team

    • Who is the project sponsor?
    • Who are the project stakeholders?
    • What is the organizational structure?
  • Schedule

    • What is the scheduling approach?
    • What are the key phases?
    • What are the milestones?
    • What is the deadline?
    • What are the key deliverables?
  • Customer Engagement

    • What will the customer do?
    • How will we interact with them?
  • Risks & Opportunities

    • What could go wrong?
    • What synergies or opportunities? (cross/up-sell)
  • Budget

    • How much money?
    • How much effort?
  • Reporting and Meetings

    • How will we report progress? (this is critical)
    • Do we need to meet regularly?
    • How do we raise problems and issues? To who?
  • Other Project Matters

    • What tools, etc do we have?
    • What platforms are we using?
    • Is there a current architecture?
    • What gets stored where?
    • Where are the project practices?
    • On the wiki/intranet?

But of course this doesn’t mean you need to spend 3 hours going through these topics – in fact the shorter the better. It’s always good to include pizza, donuts or some other nutritious motivator. The important thing is to get everyone together in the one place and the one time and to share a vision. It also assists greatly that everyone is given this info beforehand – but is not critical.

We’ve seen some project kickoffs use a day-countdown clock showing workdays till delivery. Others use a pinboard and wall to communicate storyboards, issues etc. It also serves the purpose of reducing the emails that fly around. Establishing a wiki for the project also accomplishes the goal. Other types of intranet pages often take far too long to get produced and are more hassle to update. Keeping things current is key.

A great idea is to get someone to write down the Q&A that occur during the kickoff. These aid communication during the project by clarifying certain points, expectations or by raising issues that need to be addressed.

We’ve also seen kickoffs that are one page long…

Zenkara focuses on streamlining and deploying business processes and quality systems and accelerating decision making through OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) and metrics systems. Zenkara is located in Brisbane, Australia.

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