A project kick-off meeting is the best time for the project manager and key stakeholders to cover any last minute details at the planning stage. This kind of project management meeting includes but is not limited to presenting background information, brainstorming ideas, finalizing the project schedule, determining responsibilities and delegating tasks, setting goals and expectations for the team members, project sponsor, and other stakeholders alike.
The following guide will go over everything you need to know about how to prepare a project kick-off meeting agenda template as well as what essential items you need on hand in order for you to be successful as a project manager.
What Is a Project Kick-off Meeting?
In project management, a kick-off meeting defines a formal discussion of the initiation and execution stages of a new project initiative that is held between key stakeholders to review how the project will be carried out.
The main purpose of this meeting is to give team members and stakeholders an opportunity to discuss last minute details, tasks, and objectives before the project kicks off. The project sponsor, project manager, and other key stakeholders usually participate in this kind of project meeting.
Project kick-off meetings are typically held for three main reasons:
- To present the project idea and its feasibility to the stakeholders.
- To outline the resources and budget.
- To determine roles and responsibilities.
The best way for project managers to prepare for their kick-off meetings is by using agenda templates. This will help them clearly and concisely organize all the important topics that should be discussed in the meeting in a timely manner.
Moreover, a well-planned meeting agenda will leave nothing out of the discussion, yet ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute and have their voice heard. A well-prepared agenda will also help make sure that everyone knows specifically what they need to accomplish at this meeting.
Main Items of the Project Kick-off Meeting Agenda
The following describes a sample project kick-off meeting agenda that covers these three main items:
- Business Case
- Resource Planning
- Scope Management
Let’s review each of these items in detail below.
1. Business Case – The “Why” of Your Project
At this kick-off meeting, the first question the participants should be asking is “Why?”
This is the time to ensure everyone involved in project scheduling will understand why this project is important, not only for them but for the company as a whole.
It is important that you come prepared with a solid business case. Consider presenting the following components of the business case in your kick-off meeting agenda template:
- Project summary: the overview of the idea, costs and benefits behind the project as well as the feasibility study report.
- Key stakeholders: a list of all key stakeholders who will be taking part in the project and the role they will play during the duration of this project.
- Timeline: the Gantt chart or another type of project timeline, with the start and end dates of the project, the key stages and milestones in the project lifecycle, when data collection, analysis and status report writing will take place.
- Estimate: the financial appraisal, the total costs of the project as well as the additional costs for external entities that will be involved in the project.
- Implementation: the road map of how to carry out the project.
2. Resource Planning – The “How” of Your Project
Resources are typically the backbone of every project, and it will be a good idea if you add them in your project kick-off meeting agenda template. You should also make sure that you identify the availability of key resources and collaboration tools, any prior commitments and whether it will be necessary or not to bring in new resources at the initiation phase.
It’s very important that the participants in your kick-off meeting understand how their role and responsibilities will differ from one another.
In order to do so, you need to include the following points in your kick-off meeting agenda template:
- Roles & Responsibilities: A list of roles and responsibilities as well as a description of each role, for example in the form of Project charter. You should also include the list of project stakeholders, their roles and commitments as well as their reporting relationships.
- Resource Availability: The availability of the resources and whether they have any prior commitments.
- Resources Contribution: An overview of individual contribution to the project according to their role.
- Skills & Expertise: An overview of each resource’s skill set, expertise and experience in the field.
- Resource Training Needed: When training will be needed for each resource so that they can carry out their role in a timely manner.
- Resource Action Plan: A guide on how to prioritize resources and the step-by-step plan to follow if an issue arises regarding the resource availability.
3. Scope Management – The “What” of Your Project
Scope management is, without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of a successful project. In order to make sure that everyone understands what exactly they need to do in order to carry out this project and accomplish its objectives, you will need to add a definition of the project scope in your kick-off meeting template.
You will need to discuss with your team the scope of this project and what is expected from each member in order to achieve the results. This way, you should be able to gauge whether everyone is aware of their roles and responsibilities and what exactly their contribution to the project is.
In order to do so, you need to include the following few points in your project kickoff agenda:
- Project scope: a list of all project deliverables and objectives as well as the statement of work.
- Project stakeholders: A list of project stakeholders and the roles they will be playing.
- Project breakdown: a list of specific tasks, resources and responsibilities that need to be carried out in order for the project to be successful.
- Communication plan: a guide on how communications will take place during the project’s execution so that everyone can work together and complete the project in timely manner.
- Termination: When you will be ready to end this project and close its doors. A simple project timeline for this process can also be included.
How to Write a Project Kick-off Meeting Agenda
You basically have two options as to how you can write your project kick-off meeting agenda.
- You can create a template of the agenda and send it to the team members in advance so they can review and add their input, or…
- You can create an agenda based on your understanding of what needs to be discussed during this meeting and send it out to the team members.
No matter which option you chose, the most important thing at the end of the day is to ensure that the meeting takes place on time and everyone has prepared their portion in advance.
The meeting for project kick-off is meant to establish a common understanding of what the project is all about, who will be taking part in it, how long will it take to complete and what resources will be needed. In order for this all to happen, you need to write a kick-off meeting agenda using the points outlined above including the business case, the resource plan, and the scope statement. This way everyone understands exactly what their role is and what they are expected to do.
The initial meeting will usually last between 30 minutes and one hour, so you should include plenty of time for everyone to prepare, network and get acquainted with each other.
To give your project the best chance of succeeding, you should make sure that you include enough time for the participants in your meeting to ask questions, clarify doubts and express any ideas or concerns they may have.
In order to do so, you need to take notes on what they say during the meeting, and make sure that you follow-up with them afterwards to ensure that they understand everything clearly.
In order to start a project in the right direction and ensure that it is completed successfully, you need to set up a kick-off meeting as soon as possible.
In addition to gathering the team members together and setting the overall vision of what this project will be about, this meeting also provides an opportunity for the stakeholders to ask questions, clarify doubts, discuss any ideas that may come up and offer any suggestions on how this project can be executed better.
Every good kick-off meeting starts with a detailed agenda that outlines what everyone needs to be doing to achieve the project objectives and ends with a termination date. Make sure that your kickoff meeting agenda template is comprehensive and includes all the sections mentioned above in this guide.