Your project has been approved, and everyone is looking at you to get things started. It’s time to jump in and get going. There is just one problem: how do you get everyone on the same page? In football there is a kickoff, and everyone knows what is happening. We need to do the same thing for our projects.
How do we accomplish this? We schedule a kickoff meeting so that everyone has the same expectations and understands how the project will be run and who the players are.
This meeting will do several things to help you move your project along in the right direction. First, it will introduce all the team members to each other. As silly as it sounds, if you are running a project with a vendor and the internal staff of a facility or even across different teams from the same facility, everyone may not know each other. They also may not know what expertise each person possesses or what area each individual will be responsible for.
For example, the IT person from your vendor needs to know the IT director from your facility. What better way to cement this relationship than by a hearty introduction during the kickoff meeting?
To do this, make sure that you can either introduce everyone or ask someone from each side to be ready to do the introductions. You can also simply go through the roll of those involved and have each person introduce themselves and tell about their background. Just make sure that someone is able to clearly speak on what part of the project each person will be doing.
Everyone involved should be at this meeting even if you have to conference them in, so make sure to plan accordingly and well in advance.
You will also need to make sure that the key players from each team know that this is a very important call. During this call you will want to go over the go-live date or project due date and arrange for a weekly or biweekly call so that the group can touch base and make sure that everyone stays on track.
With everyone attending your kickoff meeting you will save yourself a lot of time and participants can weigh in on their best days and times.
As the project manager, you need to plan this meeting and have an agenda. You need to understand the project and be prepared to ask questions of the team members if you need clarification.
I don’t go to this meeting with a complete project plan. I use this meeting to help me set up the project plan and then present the project plan during the first weekly meeting. That is a personal preference for me and what I have found to work best.
If you do intend to present your project plan, be prepared to make adjustments based on the feedback you get during this initial meeting. Just remember that the tone you set at this meeting will set the tone for your entire project, so be prepared to kick it over the goal and not be a Monday-morning quarterback.
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