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A kickoff meeting is a meeting at which all responsible team members are briefed on a new project. Activities can include a discussion of the project intent, establishment of a timeline, sharing of cost and budget restrictions, and assignment of project duties. Kickoff meetings often include team members across several functional areas and might also, on occasion, include a client representative.
The intent of a kickoff meeting is to ensure that a project goes as smoothly as possible by making sure all team members are on the same page. Such meetings are an opportunity for the project manager to share information about the project. This can include hard facts such as a project due date, specifications and budget, but can also include soft information such as client quirks and preferences.
The project manager is often responsible for setting up a kickoff meeting. She usually takes ownership of establishing and following the agenda. This includes scheduling a time at which all required parties can meet; reserving a location; and in the case of long meetings that take place during a mid-day break, ordering lunch service for team members.
During the meeting, the project manager will take careful notes about all items discussed, decisions reached, and questions to be answered at a later date. She will be responsible for ensuring that all stakeholders agree to the terms, timelines, and costs and that they fully understand what is required of them. Afterward, the project manager should promptly distribute clear, concise meeting notes.
One of the most important functions of a kickoff meeting is to set a deliverables list. This is a list of all the items due to the client and the specific actions needed to meet each deliverable. For example, a client deliverable might be to produce an entryway sign for a retail location. In order to accomplish this, the sign must be designed, materials must be sourced and ordered, it must be produced, the quality must be verified, and the sign must be shipped and/or installed. The procurement specialist cannot order materials until the designer designs the sign, and if either of these steps is not completed on schedule, the installer will not be able to meet the due date.
Assigning tasks is very important to the process, so the meeting notes for a kickoff meeting should include a list of action items, due dates, and responsible parties. If any party has an issue with the due dates, specifications, or pricing, the kickoff meeting is the time to bring it up. This meeting provides an open forum for all involved parties to ensure they get what they need in order to produce a successful project.