What is a Project Kick-Off meeting?
A project kickoff meeting is the first meeting of your project you hold with your project team members and stakeholders. You align on the bigger picture of the project, the scope of the project, the roles and responsibilities within your team, and the timing of the ceremonies.
After this meeting, the team should have an action plan to start the project.
Why should you run a Project Kickoff Meeting?
Starting a project out of the blue when working as a team can be a dangerous endeavor. You risk that there is misalignment between team members which can foster frustration in your project team.
This is why we should start the project with a project kickoff meeting. To start the project on the right foot with our noses towards the same goal, ready to take action for the project.
In the end, there will become some misalignment, but that is easily fixed by running retrospective meetings.
What are the goals of a Project Kickoff Meeting?
The goal of the project kickoff meeting is to create alignment with the team members and stakeholders. The project kickoff meeting give answers to the following questions.
What is the project about? Why are we doing this project, what's the value it provides? What are our roles and responsibilities? What does the timeline look like for the project? When are our Scrum events? At what cadence are we going to work?
How to Prepare for Project Kickoff Meetings?
You should prepare for any meeting. You don't want to lose face when you come unprepared to the kickoff meeting, especially as the project manager.
Who should I invite to the project kickoff meeting?
For the project kickoff meeting, you should identify the key stakeholders and your project team members. The project kickoff meeting is a great start to let the stakeholders get to know the team that will be providing their value.
When should I hold a project kickoff meeting?
The best moment for a project kickoff meeting is right before your first sprint. I recommend the afternoon, the day before your first sprint starts. It's best you hold this meeting in real life if it's possible. You'll get a greater connection between you and your project team members.
What materials do I need for the project kickoff meeting?
You'll need to bring the project vision, project scope, and project roadmap with milestones to the meeting. A great way to visualize the project is by using a product
What is the Agenda for a Project Kickoff Meeting?
It actually depends on the project and the environment you are in. In my case, I would use the following structure of my project kickoff meeting agenda.
Welcome and Introductions
Welcome the team and stakeholders to the meeting. This is the moment to do an icebreaker with the group so they get to know each other. It brings up the energy and bonds the project team altogether.
Start with the project overview. You can create slides or use a product canvas to communicate the project to your team. Give an answer to the most important questions.
What is the project about? Why are we doing this project, what's the value it provides?
Goals and Objectives
Communicate the goals and objectives to the entire team. It's important to set a goal the project team can work towards. It's now time to communicate the Product Goal of this project. Eventually, going over all the milestones and the hypothesis around the value created by the objectives.
Scope of Work
Go over the project scope of the work that is ahead. Clearly communicate the milestones of the project, like the Minimal Viable Product. What milestones are trying to achieve? When will we know that the milestones are achieved?
What does the roadmap look like, what are the main priorities for this project, and where do the milestones lay on the roadmap?
Roles and Responsibilities
If you can find an answer to these questions, the team should have a clear understanding of what tasks everyone is likely to work on.
How will we communicate with each other? Are we going to use mainly Mail, Slack, or Microsoft Teams?
Which project management software are we going to use? How will we visualize our progress toward the product goal and the milestones?
Agile Methodology Overview
Introduce the Scrum framework, mainly focussing on the Scrum ceremonies. If your team is not familiar with Scrum, train them on the first days and take extra time during the Scrum events to explain what the goal is of the events.
Focus on the timings of the Scrum events. At what time do we hold a daily standup? How long are our sprints? When are we doing the Sprint Review?
Try to get alignment around the timings of these events and explain to the stakeholders that they should always try to come to the Sprint Review. This is where they will see the progress of the team.
Next Steps and Action Items
Now that we've created alignment around the complete project and we've created a working agreement between the team and stakeholders, we can decide on the next actions.
It's most likely going to be revisiting the project kickoff meeting and summarizing how we are going to use Scrum and when the first Sprint Review is.
Follow-up After a Project Kickoff Meeting with the Project Timeline
During the project kickoff meeting, the project team made a working agreement for the Scrum events. During the Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective, we'll be reviewing how the project is going.
You can use burndown charts or use the product roadmap (or project timeline) to signal your progression.
Try to find answers to the following questions:
Are we on schedule? Do we need to change our strategy? Did we learn something from our product that we need to change the roadmap or timeline? Do we need to change the priorities of the features?
To wrap up, a project kickoff meeting is a crucial event for any project as it sets the foundation for the entire team. It helps in creating alignment among team members and stakeholders and clarifies the project scope, roles and responsibilities, and timeline.
To ensure a successful kickoff meeting, preparation, inviting the right people, having a clear agenda, and discussing the next steps are crucial. Following up with a project timeline or roadmap helps in tracking progress toward the project goals.