What are some tips on good design for project kickoff meetings?
There are two aspects of a kickoff meeting. The first is about setting the tone for the engagement and about the relationship between client and consulting teams. Especially if this is for a new client, much of the kickoff is making sure expectations, roles and responsibilities, decision making, communication protocols, problem solving issues, etc. are raised and some consensus reached. The goal is to leave the meeting with a feeling of trust on both sides that this project is going to be a success because both parties are committed and competent. This requires some preparation and for you to have an approach for each of these issues.
The second is about setting the speed and direction of the actual technical work. Assuming there was a project plan discussed before the official kickoff meeting, specific activities and major milestones are usually a key subject of the kickoff meeting. Make sure you have thought through the scope, sequence and content of work activities. Who will be responsible for information, facilities, staffing, quality control? How will your performance as a consultant and the performance of the project be evaluated? What mechanisms will you collectively use to maintain documentation and communicate project progress with staff? At least the groundwork for these needs to be laid at the kickoff meeting (or a process and time to resolve them set), because as soon as the meeting is done, you go to work. Tip:
What you don’t want a kickoff meeting to be is a casual discussion of “getting to know you.” Set the tone for your services by being professional, prepared, and positive. Provide an agenda if your client has not already done so. Bring neat copies of project plans, timelines, samples of the work products you intend to create and descriptions of the roles you are expecting the client to play in the project. Finally, demonstrate enthusiasm for the work you are about to do, directed both at the client’s organization as well as on behalf of your firm for the opportunity to provide your consulting services. Build a kickoff meeting template and refine it with every engagement. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA