The client has approved the plan, everyone’s stoked to jump in and a meeting is set up to officially kick off your new project.
You need a kickoff plan – so hopefully there are a couple days before that meeting so you can properly prepare.
Before the meeting, you should have a few documents started, lots of questions written down and clear goals for what you hope to achieve by the time you’re headed back to your desk. At minimum, here is what a digital project manager should bring to the kickoff meeting.
- Project Timeline
- RACI Matrix
- Project Brief
Remember, this initial discussion should be among your teammates before your kickoff with the client. But you already knew that, right? Of course you wouldn’t ever try to build a timeline for the client to approve without talking to your team.
Forget I ever even suggested it.
Project Timeline. Depending on the complexity of the project, your initial timeline may include certain assumptions or gaps that will need to be filled through the kickoff discussion with your team and the client. Which is the point. This initial discussion is one of the best opportunities you’re going to have to solicit input and agreement on when – and how – things need to be done.
RACI Matrix. What’s a RACI, you say? This is where you start talking roles, responsibilities and communication expectations. While it may seem like overkill, walking through who is responsible or accountable for the project, while pointing out when certain team members may only need to be consulted or simply kept informed, can help keep communication pertinent and everyone focused on the parts of the project they are responsible for. Learn more about how to build a RACI Matrix.
Project Brief. You might be thinking this is unnecessary because you have dozens of strategy documents that the client approved…who needs a project brief? Well, since not every single person on the team will be familiar with the strategy and because the “plan” as it was presented to client may be more about selling the vision and less about capturing the details…you need a project brief. This
doesn’t have to shouldn’t be a longwinded document, but it should clearly state what you’re building, who’s involved, where it will live, when it needs to go live, and outline any specific expectations of how this will all get done. The best part is, once you’re done filling in the details you know, you’ll be ready to tackle the next item on our list.
Questions/Concerns. After going through all the background documents, strategic recommendations and plans to build your project brief, there will no doubt be questions. Maybe even a few concerns. Capture these as discussion points for your meeting so that you can discuss with your team and ultimately…figure out the answers.
This little bit of pre-planning will help move things forward quickly, while also help the rest of the team feel involved and valued from the very beginning – not just when you need something (urgently, as in right now, of course). Throughout the meeting, it’s your job to capture questions, concerns, action items and next steps. This should in turn be summarized into a post-meeting note to everyone before you turn your attention back to your next discussion with the client.
Bonus points for the digital project manager who (a) solicits input on questions/concerns from the team prior to the meeting and (b) sends out an agenda so the team knows what to expect once everyone’s gathered around the table.