Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Planning your kick-off meetings, part of Project Management Simplified.
- Now, a really important part of step one, "Defining Your Project", is to make sure that all the stakeholders involved all have the same vision of what the project is. If you've just got one customer, it's great. You just give them what they want. But quite often you've got a number of different people involved who all want different things. Maybe some people want it to be cheap, other people want it to be really good, other people are in a hurry to get it. Or maybe they just have different ideas of what the quality actually means, different ideas of what's gonna be delivered. So the only way to really get around this is to get everybody in a room and get them to talk about it and agree it.
It's not your job as the project manager to decide what they're gonna get. If you do that, the chances are that some of them will complain and be unhappy. It's your job to facilitate their meeting. So get them into a room and say, "OK guys. "What is it that you want from this?" Now I'd recommend actually having two kickoff meetings. The first one is where you ask them what it is they want. You then go away for maybe a week or two, and you do steps two to eight. You do all the planning. You then come back for the second project kickoff meeting, and you say to them, "OK guys, this is "the plan I've come up with, what do you think?" You might even come with several plans.
You might say, "This is the very upmarket Rolls Royce plan, it's going to cost more, but you said you wanted "these things, you're gonna have to pay more." Or you might come back and say, "For the money you've got, this is all you can have. "You're gonna have to let a few things go." So you might give them a choice of several options if they can't have everything. So quite often at the second kickoff meeting, you're bringing news that's not brilliant, but at least you've got a plan that you can use to justify that. You can say to them, "Look, I've done the planning, "and these are the options." So, the first kickoff meeting is finding out what they want.
The second kickoff meeting is for them to decide, and also to sign it off. The signing's probably not done in writing there and then. It's probably done by an email later, but the point is the second kickoff meeting is where they commit. Just a final word of warning about this. Sometimes people will say, "Well, we can't decide. "We don't know yet, but could you just start anyway?" And my answer to that is: Don't. Whatever you do, don't start the project until everybody has agreed to what you're gonna deliver. Because if you start with a project being a bit woolly, it will end in pain.
It will end in pain for you, because you won't deliver what they wanted. But also it will end in pain for them, because they won't get what it is they're hoping. So I would say to them, "I can't start 'til I can plan the "project, and I can't plan it until I know what you want." Imagine if you were a builder, and you had perhaps a married couple asking you to... build them an extension on their house, and they were arguing about what they wanted. One of them wanted it to be bigger, one of them wanted more windows, et cetera. And imagine if they said to you, "Well, look, "just order up a load of bricks and start "digging some holes, we don't know quite what "it's gonna be yet, but just start ordering stuff." What would the builder say? Of course he would say, "I can't possibly start this 'til you know what you want.
I need to have proper, at least a drawing of what you're gonna have," so your project should be the same. Don't start 'til you can agree it. So, those're the two kickoff meetings. Finding out what they want, and then coming back with a plan and getting them to agree to it. Very important to do that, and I'd like you just to think about the project that you're working on. Is there still time to have a kickoff meeting? Is there still time to get everybody together and get them to absolutely agree what you're going to deliver for them.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Defining project scope
- Deciding how to list tasks
- Estimating costs and time
- Planning for risk
- Staying on budget