Start projects more efficiently with a client pre project kickoff meeting over lunch

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We all want great kickoff meetings, but are we doing the right work with our clients to ensure a better client kickoff meeting. Sometimes projects start out a little shaky because we jump into the project without really getting to know our clients and understanding some of their latent, tacit, or informal requirements. This can lead to a lack of understanding about what is required to succeed.
It is easy for projects to unravel as soon as the kick-off meeting. We should still be in the honeymoon phase. There is a simple way you can improve your chances of your kick-off meeting going smoothly, have better client meetings, start your project on the right track, and increase your chances of it succeeding. It’s as easy as having lunch. Before the kickoff meeting, meet with the client, grab some food, and have some banter. This will help you to iron out any nitpicky and annoying details that can lead to delays. Here are some tips to help you start projects with clients better.
Take a lunch break and participate in a pre-‘client project kickoff’
Take some time to meet with your client after the internal kick-off meeting but before the client project kickoff meeting. This will ensure that the’real kick off meeting’ with stakeholders and their team is as productive and efficient as possible. This meeting would be best done over coffee or lunch, but it is possible to catch up via Skype or phone in an emergency.
It is important to meet with clients before the’real kick-off meeting. This is done to set expectations and not be bound by the political context of the more formal kick off meeting. This is a chance to build rapport with your client and to communicate important project and team information. It also allows you to gather as much information as possible before the kick-off meeting to help refine the agenda. The discussion should focus on how you will work together, and, as much as possible set and align expectations.
Pre-client project kick-off agenda
Each project will have its own agenda and tweaks, but it’s worth making sure you cover the basics. This is a rough guideline of the timings to fit this into a 60-minute meeting.
Introductions – Some warm and fuzzy banter (5 minutes)
Examine the project teams. Who is responsible for what? (3 mins)
Approval process – The process and personnel involved in signing off deliverables. (3 mins)
SoW Review – What are we doing? When, how and what will we produce? (20 mins)
Discuss Risk, Issue, and Change Management – What’s the client’s approach and attitude to managing risk and change? (3 mins)
Reporting – How can we track and communicate the progress of our projects, and to whom? (3 mins)
Collaboration – What tools can we use to work together? (3 mins)
What do we need to know about Assets? (5 mins)
Kickoff agenda – What will we discuss at the client kickoff meeting? (5 mins)
AOB – Anything else we should discuss? (5 mins)
1. Introductions – Some warm and fuzzy banter (5 minutes)
This is a chance for you to have a little heart to heart with your client so that the project runs smoothly and there are fewer surprises. This is a chance to get to know your client beyond the context of the project. It’s a chance to build a relationship with them and to establish trust that will last through all the ups and downs.
2. Examine the project teams – who is responsible for what? (3 mins)
The’real’ kickoff meeting will allow for a recap with the entire project team about roles and responsibilities. Discussions are intended to gain and share insight into team dynamics.
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