Project management kick off meetings – what is the point?

I was asked during a meeting with a client what is the point of a project kick off meeting? Apparently, the sponsor (who I was meeting with) was being pressurised by a project manager to hold such a workshop. The sponsor felt it was a waste of time.

I suggested that the project manager should be congratulated for the suggestion.

I explained that the workshop could be two people meeting for 30 minutes to the whole team going away for the week. I went on to suggest that they were essential for the modern day project where speed seems to be of the essence.

This may seem strange; the workshop slows down the project initiation process while at the same time helping to deliver the overall project a lot quicker! How so? Rather than rush in and start to plan the project you have the opportunity of ensuring that you:

*  understand the background to the project
*  check out that what you have really is a project
*  can develop a business case
*  identify project roles – project board, sponsor, project manager

Of course, the workshop can be used in many different ways and you can have more than one for:

  • Helping identify the detailed deliverables – outcomes from the project e.g. a report, a training course, a new building
  • Identifying the project management structure including stages
  • Developing the project initiation document
  • Carrying out risk assessment or stakeholder management
  • Developinging the overall plan or framework for the plan
  • Identifying resources for the project
  • Developing a project control process (governance)
  • Putting together a project closure/handover process

The list is endless and will be specific to a project or group who will deliver it.

A quick story; we were approached by a client to run a two day project management course for a specific group of staff within an organisation. This was a team who were going to deliver a key strategic project and wanted some skills in doing this. During the morning of the first day it became obvious that the team were not aware of what the objectives were or what the actual deliverables were for the project. We were able to get hold of the sponsor who came along and talked through the project in more detail.

This was the start up workshop. It should have taken place at least two weeks prior but it did not! By asking the sponsor to come along and explain the background the team soon developed a business case, which was agreed by the sponsor and were able to develop the project to project plan stage. They arranged a meeting to check that the work done so far was worthwhile and to look at the monitoring and control aspects as they realised they needed sponsor input. They speeded up the project management processes by holding, via the training event a start up workshop.

Back to my client. When I explained all of this the project manager and he arranged a date to hold a meeting, and they decided which of the key stakeholders should be invited.

Result? The project manager and sponsor were clear what they needed to achieve. The stakeholders were engaged and understood their role in the project and they had a clear mandate to proceed.

Yes, start up meetings take time to arrange, time to hold but if run successfully make a really significant impact on the project.

Good luck with your next meeting!

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2 Responses to Project management kick off meetings – what is the point?

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