By: Erwin L. Sison
The Project Kick-off meeting is probably one of the most important meetings the project team will have to conduct during the course of the whole project, if not the most important. It is the meeting when you give the client the best impression you could afford. The most appropriate time to give them an overview of how the project will be ran. The moment when you let the customer know that you and your team is up for the challenge. In other words this is the moment when you lay your cards on the table.
In my years of working for an ERP solution partner, believe me sometimes this could dictate the success rate of the project.
Here are a few tips on how to make it a successful and meaningful Project Kick-off Meeting.
- Plan and Prepare. Yes, this should always be on the very top of your list every time you do something, in this case Kick-off meeting, plan. This is a no-brainer if I may say.
- Introduce your team . The customer will have to know who are the people they will be working with. From the Project Manager to the Project Lead to the Consultants (Functional and Technical) and the PMO Officer (Project Management Office). It is always a good idea to bring the whole team.
- Know their team. Since you have already introduced your team, then it is only fair for you to know whom are you going to deal with. The Project Manager for their side, the members of the steering committee and all the key users. Be sure to get their names, contact numbers, email addresses and their role in the company. Do not leave without this important information.
- Discuss Project Schedule. This is the backbone of the whole exercise. Discuss what happens after the Kick-off meeting and what are the next activity after that and so on and so forth. Now, I have witnessed some Project Managers who doesn't want to discuss the schedule, BIG mistake! Without the Project Schedule the whole exercise is a failure. It is the right of the customer to at least have an idea on how long the implementation will take so they could plan their schedule. Remember this is an essential part of this activity.
- Show Project Milestones. While discussing the Project Schedule, highlight the Project Milestones. This will make them visualize the project in significant phases and will give them a good idea on the status of the project during the course of the implementation. If in case you need to mention your Billing Milestones please do so.
- Explain Terminologies and Abbreviations. During the discussion on the Project Schedule and Project Milestones you will surely touch abbreviations and terms such as UAT, Parallel Run, Internal Testing, Uploading etc. Although these might be a routine to you it might be a totally new experience for some of them. Be sensitive to your audience by explaining briefly the purpose of the activity and it's significance to the project.
- Present your Project Management Tools. These tools are equally important to the project. There are tons and tons of tools out there, from issue tracker, file repository, schedule monitoring, correspondence keeper and progress reporting. I could name a few in my future blogs and probably would recommend some. If you plan to use a Project Management tool that the customers need to use then this is the exact time to show and discuss it with them and highlight its advantages so they could understand its necessity.
- Emphasize Teamwork. The most important word in the whole project, stress clearly to them that your team and theirs is actually just one team and both of you needs to work together to achieve success of the project. In doing so and if they buy your idea, you can achieve cooperation between two sides.
You may of course add a few more agenda to the activity if you think it is necessary, always keep in mind that a wisely planned and well-conducted Project Kick-off meeting is the best way to launch a project. Just like they always say, first impression lasts.