What’s the point of a project kick off meeting?

I was asked during a meeting with a client what is the point of a project kick off meeting? Apparently, the sponsor (who I was meeting with) was being pressurised by a project manager to hold such a workshop. The sponsor felt it was a waste of time.

I suggested that the project manager should be congratulated for the suggestion.

I explained that the workshop could be two people meeting for 30 minutes to the whole team going away for the week. I went on to suggest that they were essential for the modern day project where speed seems to be of the essence.

This may seem strange; the workshop slows down the project initiation process while at the same time helping to deliver the overall project a lot quicker! How so? Rather than rush in and start to plan the project you have the opportunity of ensuring that you:

  • understand the background to the project
  • check out that what you are discussing is a project that fits with overall company objectives
  • develop a business case
  • clarify project roles

Of course, the workshop can be used in many different ways:

  • identifying the deliverables for the project
  • developing a clear governance process for the project
  • identifying key risks and stakeholders for the project
  • developing overall plans – high level or detail – whichever is appropriate

The list is endless and will be specific to a project or group who will deliver it.

For those of you who are involved in a project that has a number of clear stages why not have start up workshops for each stage?

Back to my client. When I explained all of this the project manager and he arranged a date to hold a meeting, and they decided which of the key stakeholders should be invited.

The feedback I received was that they had a really positive start up. The project manager and sponsor were clear what they needed to achieve. They started the stakeholders engagement and had identified a number of risks that needed urgent attention

Yes, start up meetings take time to arrange, time to hold but if run successfully make a really significant impact on the project.

Good luck with your next meeting!

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3 Responses to What’s the point of a project kick off meeting?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention What’s the point of a project kick off meeting? | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead -- Topsy.com

  2. Sridhar says:

    Hi Ron

    I am surprised at how many projects start off without the team coming together to discuss the vision and the end goal of the project. Even after a few months, there is no consistency in what team members think the objective of the project is!

    In my opinion, the kickoff meeting should involve the sponsor, business stakeholders, SMEs and a end-user representative. This starts up the communication process that is *the* critical element in the success or failure of the project.

    This can be a half-day meeting in the office itself, but we would do well to remember that more face time early is better. Otherwise, we will end up with a Project Manager who says to his team,” Team, start coding, I’ll go and get the first set of requirements.”

  3. Ron Rosenhead says:

    Sridhar, thanks for your comments.

    I guess the kick off process for some gets lost in the need for activity; plan this, organise that etc. The problem is that the ‘delay’ in holding such a meeting(or series of meetings) will actually help in the delivery of the project!

    I feel this is one area that seems to slip away…

    Thanks again.

    Ron

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