Holding the Project Kickoff Meeting - Project Management

The project has officially begun. The charter has been published and distributed, the project manager has been appointed, and you're ready for the next step—the project kickoff meeting.

The purpose of the kickoff meeting is to accomplish verbally what you accomplished in writing, that is, communicate the objective and purpose of the project, gain support and the commitment of resources for the project, and explain the roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders.

Creating the Agenda

When you announce the meeting time and place, publish an agenda with the announcement. This will be the rule for all project meetings from here on out. It's always good practice to publish an agenda. Everyone knows what to expect from the meeting, and if you're expecting meeting attendees to come prepared with some type of information, note that in the agenda.

Note:Make certain when the meeting is called to order that everyone has a copy of the project charter so they can follow along when you go over each section.

A typical project kickoff meeting agenda might look something like this:

The first thing to do is introduce the key players. Even if these folks have all worked together for quite some time, it doesn't hurt to allow everyone a minute or two to state their name and describe their role in the organization.

Next comes the project overview. Describe in your own words what the project is all about. Include the project purpose and the project objectives in your overview for the group. Then proceed to cover each section of the charter step-by-step and ask for questions when you get to the end of each section. Also ask for input and concerns as you cover each section in the charter.

Take some time when you get to the roles and responsibilities section. You want to make sure that everyone leaves this meeting understanding what's required of them during the course of the project. Now's the time to clear up any misunderstandings and get folks pointed in the right direction.

The closing agenda item for this meeting is a question and answer session. Allow everyone the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns. If questions arise during the meeting that you don't know the answer to, write down each question and let the person know you'll get back to them. Then follow up with a response as quickly as possible.

Questions you may encounter during this first meeting will include things like, "Can we really do this project?" "Can we meet the deadline?" "Do we have the resources for this?" "Whose bright idea was this anyway?" (this one's my favorite) and so on. Answer what you can and of course stay consistent with what's been documented in the project charter.

A well-documented project charter will get the project off to a great start. It will also make your job of developing the scope statement much easier.

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