Starting your project off on the right foot is really the only way to guarantee success. Even if you have the best talent and resources, keeping things organized from the project kickoff means that you’ll be able to manage your team and project.
While diving straight into a project is tempting, planning pays off in the long run. To help, here’s the only project kickoff checklist you’ll ever need—laid out for you in 10 convenient steps.
1. Appoint project manager
Whether you’re a traditional project manager or you share project management tasks (we’re looking at you, integrated agencies), it’s important to know who’s the boss.
2. Define project objectives
Whether you utilize a formal or informal business case, it’s still important to share similar objectives. What are you trying to achieve? And how do you plan on doing so?
3. Receive approval from management and stakeholders
Approving the business case—or the project charter—is crucial. This is the point of a project where you will need to outline your budget and make sure that upper management is well-informed.
4. Define project scope
Building on the point above, you’ll need to know who and what exactly is included in a project. Establishing scope—and ensuring that you are staying within its parameters—is a guiding principle of any project.
5. Identify risks
Let’s face it. Projects fail. Many of them. Being cognizant of the factors that can potentially harm your project not only puts a realistic spin on things, but it prepares you for Plan B.
6. Establish a list of deliverables
Deliverables are the building blocks of your project. Typically, they have due dates and tangible results, and they serve a specific purpose. Establishing deliverables sets realistic time frames and serves as a tracking mechanism for your overall project.
7. Build your team
You’ve already identified the project manager; now it’s time to appoint sponsors and team members and identify all stakeholders and suppliers. Know who is doing what—and why. Defining roles and responsibilities not only outlines expectations, but it encourages accountability.
8. Produce your communication plan
While admittedly a straightforward concept, your communication plan is a crucial contributor to a project’s success. It outlines exactly how, when, and where communication will take place.
9. Arrange a kickoff meeting
In traditional advertising, a kickoff meeting is the most important meeting. This is still true in the digital age. Despite the fact that you may have remote employees and non-traditional roles, it’s still important for everyone to be on the same page.
10. Select your project management software
Sure, email and spreadsheets are great tools. But in today’s fast-paced, digitally based creative world, a project management tool is absolutely necessary. The best tools consolidate communications, automate calendars and schedules, and ensure that all team members are connected—at all times, from anywhere.
The start of the project kickoff is arguably one of the most crucial aspects of your project. Subsequently, excellent communication and top-notch organizational skills are a surefire way to start your project off on the right foot. While there are certainly other items you could add to this list, if you cover these 10 things, your project kickoffs should go smoothly every time.