Preparedness ensures success, while unpreparedness spells failure. It is necessary to have a project plan before the project starts. Especially for large consulting projects, fine management of the overall project is essential. However, there are still many problems in the process of the project:
- When there are some problems, everybody will pass the buck because there is no leader;
- The work of each module has always been delayed, resulting that the projects always stumbled;
- The requirements are increasing. What is the scope of the project?
The reason for the above problems is mostly poor initiating Meetings. Today, we will talk about initiating a Meeting and how to do it based on my experience in consulting projects.
I. What is Initiating Meeting?
Initiating Meeting, or Kick-off Meeting, generally refers to the first formal Meeting held by Party A and Party B after the bid is awarded or the contract is signed. The leaders and teams of both parties have formal contact and understanding at the Meeting, which is related to whether the subsequent projects can be completed on time with quality and quantity.
Simply put, it is similar to the ancient oath-taking rally, where you can get everyone together to tell them what to do, how to do it, and what the result is to improve the team's morale and promote the project.
Well-begun is half done, so the importance of Initiating a Meeting is self-evident. Several functions can be achieved through it:
1. Clear Goals and Objectives
The project team members should achieve unity of thinking and cognition on the project so that everyone can realize the importance and significance of their work. Only with the same goal can it arouse people's enthusiasm and initiative.
2. Clear Strategy and Plan
At the beginning of the project, it is important to figure out the key milestones and reach an agreement. Some projects may not have clear milestones at the initiating Meeting. In this case, the business leaders can identify the milestones according to the expectations.
3. Clear Division of Responsibilities
Clarify each person's role and position. With clear responsibilities, everyone can complete their tasks with a sense of responsibility.
4. Clear Collaboration Mechanisms
Many collaboration mechanisms exist for large projects, including decision-making, approval, and meeting mechanisms. Smaller teams and projects mainly refer to the communication and collaboration mechanism, such as weekly Meetings, monthly Meetings, and so on. Therefore, a successful initiating meeting can help keep the project on track. Now that you know what initiating a Meeting let's talk about how to organize it in detail.
II. How to Organize the Initiating Meeting
No matter what the Meeting is, 80% of the work is done before it starts to ensure success. Prepare and communicate before the Meeting to ensure the process goes smoothly.
In particular, it is important to prepare and optimize meeting materials, including project background, project objectives, the introduction of project members, the project's organizational structure, project plan, management mechanism, and risk analysis of the project, which can be presented in PPT.
1. Project background: The project background mainly considers two questions: why this project, and what problems can be solved? What is the measure of success according to the problems to be solved?
2. Project objectives: The project objectives are usually led by Party A, the project sponsor. The two parties jointly negotiate specific, executable, and achievable phased targets, including the deliverables at each stage.
3. Introduction of project members: Introduce the information of members in the two parties, including the rank and work of each person. Getting to know each other helps to strengthen team collaboration and cooperation on subsequent projects.
4. Determine the organizational structure: Define the organizational structure and responsibilities of the project, ensure the effective cooperation of all departments and clarify the responsibilities of all stakeholders to promote the project.
5. Determine the project plan: At the beginning of the project, it does not mean the plan has to be as detailed as possible. However, it is necessary to define key milestones, such as when to deliver, when to close the project and when to review the project. Make detailed plans for the immediate stage and rough plans for the long-term stage.
6. Determine the management mechanism: the management mechanism includes many contents, and the most important thing is to determine the common communication mechanism in the early stage, which ensures coordination, avoids fragmentation, and presents the overall progress of the project rhythmically.
7. Risk analysis of the project: Assess the risks of each module to reduce the possibility of risks, which can refer to previous projects or cases. After completing the main materials above, you can start to organize meetings and send meeting invitations. It is recommended to include the following information when sending the invitation:
- Theme: the theme of the initiating meeting
- Agenda: including the start and the estimated time of the Meeting
- Participants: those who need to participate in the meeting of both parties
- Address: online & offline (clearly stated)
- Attachment: the documents for reference in the meeting
Be careful to avoid discussion in formal meetings. The initiating Meeting is a meeting of synchronizing information, different from general meetings. Although there will be a few discussions, the main content should be communicated as much as possible before the Meeting rather than discussed temporarily at the Meeting.
At the end of the Meeting, it is important to finish the Meeting with a summary and backlog and send the Meeting minutes to both parties for filing in time.
1. It is not entirely true that the plan has to be as detailed as possible.
There are two reasons for it:
- It takes a lot of work and time to make a complete long-term plan;
- The uncertainty of the project results that all the plans have to be adjusted once there is a change, and the workload of adjusting the long-term plan is heavy.
2. Make sure senior executive is involved
Especially when it comes to strategic projects, senior executives of both sides must participate to ensure the execution and promotion of subsequent projects. Therefore, the schedule of senior executives should be coordinated to ensure their timely participation.
3. Pace the meeting
As the host, the project manager should pace the Meeting and express the purpose, requirements, and content clearly and completely. You can drill in advance to avoid awkward silence and overtime at the Meeting.
4. Take minutes
The meeting results should be written and sent to both parties by email for retention. Main points of meeting minutes:
- Participants, time, address
- Project background, project goals
- Project team, organizational structure, and the leader
- Key milestones, project timeline, and deliverables
- Management mechanism of the project
- The main risk of the project
These are the key points of preparing for an initiating meeting. "Sharp tools do good work." The initiating Meeting is also a small project. Remember, the process and method of project management can get twice the result with half the effort!