Agency Management, Operational Excellence

Key Project Kickoff Milestones to Ensure Success Right From The Start

by Ron Ause, September 17, 2015

key-project-kickoff-milestones-for-successProject kickoff meetings serve as one of the first impressions for your business. They are the start of any project and lay the foundation for its success. It’s important to take advantage of this one-time opportunity to set expectations, energize all stakeholders, and establish important parameters to guide the project.

 To help ensure project success from the get-go, consider the following project kickoff milestones.

Meeting Preparation

Many times, the project kickoff meeting is not the first time you will be communicating with your clients. Chances are you will have held numerous meetings before the kickoff—after all, your meeting had to be proposed, selected and defined. And while you may already have a rapport developed with your client, it’s important to treat your kickoff meeting as the official first impression of your agency.

It’s absolutely critical to have the project’s expectations and deliverables outlined before the kickoff meeting. Below is a suggested list for project managers:

  • Identify project team members and their individual responsibilities
  • Outline a detailed list of required resources
  • Develop a project assumptions list
  • Outline a preliminary project plan
  • Define key project success factors 

Defining these elements before the meeting not only allows you to outline the goals of the project and develop resource estimates, it portrays you as a proactive agency.

While the scope will vary based on project size, complexity, and other circumstances, a kickoff meeting cannot serve its purpose unless the project’s vision is clearly outlined. Remember, not every kickoff participant will have the same level of foresight—it’s your job to ensure that everyone gets on the same page. 

Kickoff Agenda 

Once you develop a specific plan to follow during your kickoff, it’s important to define the agenda of the meeting. A clearly outlined agenda will help guide the meeting and ensure that all questions are answered. Below is an outline for a basic meeting agenda: 

  • Opening: welcome all participants, set kickoff expectations
  • Introductions: break the ice and identify key stakeholders
  • How did we get here? Explain the initial sale, the project background, and the events preceding the kickoff
  • Project presentation: explain the vision and scope of the project
  • Process outline: outline how the project will be managed and executed
  • Next steps: explain the immediate steps to be taken following the kickoff
  • Q&A: allow time for any client questions
  • Closing: create excitement for the project and show the client that you value them

On the designated day of your kickoff, make sure you confirm the time and date with your client, resend all contact information, and ensure that all participants have a copy of the meeting materials.

Meeting Execution

On the day of the meeting, it’s important to ensure that things run smoothly. But if outlined correctly, the kickoff meeting should progress naturally. Make sure that all predicted timelines, expectations, and goals are clearly communicated. Present the project’s information in an engaging, entertaining matter. And encourage questions and feedback.

It is your job as project manager to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page—before, during, and after a kickoff meeting.


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About The Author

Ron began a career in the software industry at 13, while working with his father. He's become an expert in job cost and project management for creative teams.

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