Never Skip a Formal Project Kickoff

New projects are exciting, and we are all normal to want to get at them as fast as possible.   In fact, so fast, often, that we will skip important key elements of any project.  We start managing the project from day 1 and we often miss the early critical steps.

Brad Egeland (www.BradEgeland.com) wrote an article for www.ProjectTimes.com back in a few years ago entitled ‘11 Reasons Why My Project Manager Is Better Than Yours’.   

In it, he refers to the Project Kickoff Meeting.

Brad writes “On a big project, it should be with the whole team in person for a 2 to 3-hour meeting, but even if the kickoff meeting is a 20-minute phone call, it needs to happen. Conduct the kickoff meeting to go over a common understanding of budget, effort, how changes will be handled, draft delivery dates, and overall what is going to be accomplished. Come out of this kickoff with everyone on the same page to start the heavy work.”

Let me add a few key ingredients to the meeting.

  1. A communications plan – How are we going to keep in touch with each other?  How often and why? What should our status reports look like?  Who will get them?  What tools will we use to communicate?  This easy plan can set the groundwork for clear, appropriate and timely communicating across the entire team.
  • A code of conduct.  An agreement across the team on expectations around behavior, respect  and maybe what are we going to do about non-performance (if it is within our control)?  Some time is required to set the playing field for all involved.
  • Form and Norm. Let’s spend a little time getting to know each other.  Who are you?  Hobbies? Fun stuff?  Strengths?  Weaknesses?  And is there anything that we should know about you that might affect your work on the project?  This last part is important.  If we know up front about your kids and day care issues or a family member you are caring for or any other commitment that might affect your response time on our project – these are all really helpful bits of information.

Call it a Team Charter and spend a little more time than a 20-minute phone call and it will pay off in spades! 

Thanks again, Brad, for kicking off the conversation.

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