The contracts are signed and the budget is approved. You are now officially hired and it is time to get to work. A project kickoff meeting is a great way to lay the foundation for a successful independent consulting project and reinforce your client's decision to hire you. The kickoff meeting will allow you to ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the project goals, deliverables and workflow.
Your project kickoff meeting should include the project sponsor and key stakeholders. Establishing communication and coordination at the onset will help ensure a successful project. The meeting should accomplish the following:
In preparation for the project kickoff meeting, you will want to spend time gathering data. As part of your research, interview key stakeholders. Do not limit your interviews or the kickoff meeting to the C-Suite. As much as possible, expand the list to include those who will be tasked with execution or managing the results of the project outcomes. By broadening your list of stakeholders, you will gain deeper insight into the organization, helping you drive an even better outcome.
Meet one-on-one or in small groups that facilitate open and honest discussion. These interviews can serve to break the ice while also enabling you to gain individual perspectives on the project and organization. For example, if the project is a second attempt or redesign of an earlier effort, ask about the challenges of the previous project. What worked and what did not work in the previous project? Ask questions that provide insight into the organizational culture and reveal any potential roadblocks or challenges. What do you have to do to ensure the project is a success? Are there other people or departments that need to be included to ensure success? How will the project impact individual stakeholders?
Once you have gathered data, you can begin to formulate a project strategy. At this stage, you may also use a business framework, such as SWOT or Porter's Five Forces, to help you with your strategic analysis.
When you are ready to plan your first kickoff, this template may help.
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