What are the things to watch out for in project kickoff meetings?
Project kickoff meetings are usually called by the client to make sure that the scope, sequence and content of the project is clear to all. We meet the principals, take a tour of the facilities, discuss past efforts to solve the problem at hand, and pore over the proposed project plan. What no one likes to talk about however, is that this is all about risk management, for both the client and the consultants.
The client wants to be sure that the consultant is up to the job and the project scope is not too narrow to accommodate what comes up when exploration reveals new issues. The consultant wants to limit the scope to the proposed work on which he or she bid and make sure that the client is reasonable about accommodating scope changes. Both want to leave the kickoff meeting knowing what they are getting in to, despite both being focused on improving the client's position. Tip:
As important as discussing what each party intends to do in the project, the kickoff meeting should spend a significant amount of time discussing the limits to the project. Talk about roles and authorities - what the consultant should not be doing and what the client is not obligated to do. List (yes on paper) those activities that are inside the line and which are outside. Be flexible on this but it should be on paper so all can see it and agree to it. We have all been in situations where we want to accommodate the client and have had to come back and negotiate what is in and what is really beyond the scope of work. Be willing to negotiate but be sure the kickoff meeting leaves no ambiguity over roles and responsibilities. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA