So, you’ve already gone through the 4 steps to determine if this project will work, and maybe you’ve even tested the project’s viability out by building an MVP. Now you’re ready to get started on actually BUILDING the real thing. But what are the things you need to do to ensure it gets off on the right foot?
Enter: The Project Kickoff.
Whether you’re the one building the project or the one funding it, a Project Kickoff meeting can be very beneficial in getting those involved on board with the vision and goals, as well as setting overall expectations for the duration of the project.
BEFORE PROJECT KICKOFF
At this point, contracts have been signed and with that hopefully a high-level idea of the project’s scope has been put together (how else would the budget have been estimated otherwise?).
But before you can hold the official Kickoff, it’s important to make sure an agenda has been created for the meeting and sent out ahead of time. While this might seem like a no-brainer, the importance of an agenda for a meeting like this is crucial. Without an agenda in place, it’s possible for the kickoff to go way longer than anticipated, for those involved to come unprepared, or for crucially important details to be skipped over.
At WWC, our agendas tend to look like this:
- Establish the Rules (5 min)
- Introductions (5 min)
- Project Vision (40 min)
- Key Dates & Deliverables (15 min)
- Break (15 min)
- Roles & Responsibilities (15 min)
- Set Expectations (15 min)
- Next Steps (10 min)
With the agenda in hand, it’s time to get the kickoff meeting underway.
DURING PROJECT KICKOFF
Finally! You’re off to the races. Here’s a quick look at how we tackle each item on the agenda:
Establish the Rules (5 min)
Start the Kickoff by establishing a few ground rules and expectations. At WWC, we keep those fairly simple:
- Review the agenda for the meeting and see if there are any additions to be made.
- Feel free to ask questions, notes will be sent out after the meeting.
- Set a hard stop time on the meeting to ensure everything is discussed. We typically aim for 2 hours.
- Define when a break will be taken.
Intros (5 min)
Make sure everyone in the room knows each other and how they’re contributing to the project. Don’t worry about digging into everyone’s responsibilities yet - that comes later!
Establish the Vision (40 min)
Review what’s been defined so far for the project’s scope and go over the goals and objectives for the project. What do you as the client consider a successful launch? Has anything been done in the past that should be accounted for?
Define Key Deliverables and Dates (20 min)
In reviewing the project’s scope, when’s the overall project deadline? Are there any current deadlines that need to be met? If so, these should be discussed ahead of time so the deliverables can be reorganized to hit that deadline.
At WWC we utilize the agile methodology for development, which allows us to be flexible and work to meet mid-project deadlines if needed. That way, if you find out through Customer Discovery there’s a feature that’s more important than what was previously known, we can easily transition to working on that feature if needed.
Break (5 min)
This tends to happen naturally, and allows time to process what’s been discussed so far.
Roles & Responsibilities (20 min)
First and foremost, define the main point of contact. Who’s responsible on both the client and agency’s side to see the project from beginning to end? Will they be the person responsible for approvals or will that be someone else?
Once that’s been established, define who’s responsible for putting together the assets for the project. Who’s writing the copy or finding the images and when will those be needed by?
Setting Expectations (15 min)
At this point, it’s good to go over the logistics of the project and how all communications will proceed moving forward. How often will reviews take place? Are meetings online or in person? Where will images be stored and what’s the best way to reach out if someone has a question?
At WWC, we utilize tools like Slack for everyday chat communication with our clients and internally, Pivotal Tracker for task and project management, InVision for design prototypes, Google Drive for file storage and creation (i.e. documents and spreadsheets if needed), and Google Hangouts for both scheduled and ad hoc meetings as needed. That said, if email is the preferred way to communicate, that’s easy enough for us to do as well.
Review Next Steps (10 min)
Almost done! At this point, it’s time to start wrapping up the meeting and go over how to proceed from there. Review what’s been discussed during the kickoff and once again at a high level go over the roles and responsibilities everyone’s taken on to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Establish what tasks need to be done in order to get the project off the ground and who’s responsible for what. At this point, everyone should be walking away from the meeting with a clear idea of the vision and goals and how they play a part in the project overall.
AFTER THE KICKOFF
And you’re off to the races! Hopefully the Project Kickoff didn’t last much longer than 2 hours, and everyone’s on the same page with how the project should proceed. At this point, all that’s left is to send out the agenda one last time, but with notes and tasks attached that are reviewed weekly to ensure things are moving along as expected.
Have a few more questions on how to facilitate a Project Kickoff effectively? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.