A project that doesn’t start successfully will certainly not end successfully. I have found that a major key in starting a project off successfully, is making sure you have a kickoff meeting. A kickoff meeting is that very first meeting you have with the project team and the customer. Typically, there are two different kickoff meetings: an internal one with just you and your team followed by an external one with you, your team, and the customer.

Internal Kickoff Meeting

You want your team to enter the external kickoff with the customer well informed and on the same page as you -you don’t want them to seem surprised by anything. This gives you the chance to give background information on the customer and the project. Everyone loves the saying “there are no stupid questions” but this is really the time to get all those “stupid questions” out. This is also time where you can inform the team of any pain points for the customer. Prepare your team for a successful first impression. In addition to preparing for the customer, you also get to prepare the team for each other – some of the team members may have never worked with each other before so it is a good way to build the relationship amongst the team.

Here are some sample agenda items (every project is different, these are just some main repeat items I use):

  • Introductions
  • Customer background
  • Project details
  • Review SOW
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • External kickoff agenda
  • Q&A
  • Next steps

External Kickoff Meeting

The purpose of this is to introduce the team, understand the project goals, understand what will define success for the customer, understand the work that needs to be done and how to carry it out, and provide the opportunity for everyone to level set. This meeting will determine the course of the entire project- if executed well it will make a huge contributing factor to the projects success, however on the other hand, if executed poorly, it can ruin any chance of success.

Here are some sample agenda items (every project is different, these are just some main repeat items I use):

  • Introductions and review of roles and responsibilities of everyone involved
  • Project briefing – what is the business problem and need
  • Success- what does it mean for the customer
  • Project plan review – timeline, tasks, milestones, change management, communication management, risks
  • Q&A
  • Next steps

These kickoffs are the foundation of a successful relationship between you, your team and the customer. When executed well, they will ensure everyone is one the same page, and has the same expectations of each other. That is what will play a huge part in success during the project.

-Krystina Hodge, Consultant | Project Manager

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