5 Tips to Ace Your Internal Project Kickoff Meeting

5 Tips to Ace Your Internal Project Kickoff Meeting

It’s easy for details to get lost in the confusion that accompanies the early stages of a new project.

Consolidating key information and creating a solid project plan are essential for your team to be successful. If you’re unprepared before you meet the client, your team comes across as confused and unprepared to your paying customers. That’s a bad look for integrators wanting to win more business per customer account.

That’s why your internal project kickoff meeting is so important. By taking the time to share information and consolidate objectives, you can align your team and gain buy-in around the project scope.

But all meetings aren’t created equal. Here are 5 tips to help you take your internal project kickoff meeting to the next level.

1. Determine your meeting triggers

Before you start planning your next meeting, take some time to review your internal process, and figure out when those meetings need to take place.

Is an internal meeting necessary for every single project or contract? If not, where are the triggers for this process? If so, where should this process take place within your onboarding sequence?

Knowing when these meetings are necessary and when they aren’t can save a huge amount of time. This knowledge can also help you gauge project timelines and determine project scope long before a contract is signed.

By knowing that an internal meeting needs to take place, you’ll have a better understanding of what work needs to be done in order to relay the scope of the project to your entire team.

After that, you should determine who needs to attend the meeting. Ideally, you’ll want the following teams represented at your internal kickoff meeting:

  • Sales
  • Engineering
  • Projects
  • Finance

Some of these departments may be customer-facing , so it makes sense for them to have a complete understanding of the project. That’s the purpose of a kickoff meeting — internal or otherwise.

Once you know when a meeting should take place and who should be involved, you can start creating a kickoff agenda that will lead to project success.

2. Create a solid kickoff meeting agenda and agenda template

Research has shown that 67% of Americans believe that having a compelling plan for a meeting occurs less than 50% of the time.

In order for your internal project kickoff meeting to demonstrate what success looks like, you’ll need to come up with an agenda that allows everyone to deliver their portion of the project information.

The beauty of a meeting agenda is that it can follow a standardized process. Once your team figures out an agenda structure that works for the first meeting on a new project, you can follow that format and continue to see improved results. In order to do that, you’ll have to determine what objective and goals make your meeting successful and be sure to include them in your new agenda.

A typical meeting agenda will cover all of the following topics:

  • Contracts
  • Scopes of Work
  • Bid Sheets
  • Drawings
  • Equipment Schedules
  • Onsite and Offsite Resources
  • Subcontractors and Other Resources
  • Equipment Purchases

You’ll also want to leave room for discussions and questions as the need arises.

Your meeting agenda doesn’t need to follow a traditional format with icebreakers and a slide deck. However, it should be flexible enough to outline the scope of a successful project and give teams what they need to succeed.

3. Conduct a preliminary call with the client prior to your internal meeting

Before your internal project kickoff meeting takes place, it makes sense to confirm the basic details with your customer.

Have the project manager conduct a preliminary call with the project sponsor to set expectations, discuss timelines, and confirm the project. At this stage, a fair amount of preliminary work has already been accomplished, but it’s best to confirm everything with the customer a final time before trying to align the project team.

You’ll also want to define and confirm the project stakeholders one last time. External positions and roles change all the time due to conflicting schedules and business needs. If there are changes to the external team, be sure to confirm those individuals so that you can relay the most current information back to your team.

Once everything is confirmed and the project is ready to move forward, it’s time to schedule your internal meeting and get everyone in the same room.

4. Have the PM quarterback the meeting

While the purpose of a kickoff meeting is to help project teams gain a better understanding of the project, it’s also a chance for attendees to establish leadership roles before getting in front of the client.

Practiced teams will already have this down, but it never hurts to assign tasks and create teams while reviewing the project charter. If you’re planning to assign technicians or installers into specific areas or to lead specific initiatives within the projects, nailing down those finer points during the meeting is a great idea.

However, all of this should be done with the project manager at the helm since she will serve as the primary point of contact between internal and external teams.

Designating a project quarterback can also provide direction and guidance to your internal project kickoff. One study found that a lack of direction prevented meetings from boosting productivity nearly 50% of the time.

For most integrators, field installations are painful enough without the confusion that comes from an uncoordinated team. By quarterbacking the meeting, the PM can ensure that each stage of the project is discussed and that any exceptions to standard operating procedures are reviewed. That way, when the customer comes calling, the PM will have everything she needs to quickly respond to that request.

5. Get everyone involved and on the same page

In addition to providing a project background and a project plan, your goal with the agenda should be to align everyone for the client meeting before that meeting takes place.

That means that any internal differences between teams regarding the interpretation of the project need to be resolved before key stakeholders get involved.

If there are major issues with the team or problems that will affect the project lifecycle during production, try to resolve those issues before the external kickoff meeting takes place.

During your meeting, be sure to review specific details regarding how equipment is ordered, transported, and stored. If your team has learned about any special requirements or site restrictions, share those in the meeting so that the entire team can respect them.

It’s also worth discussing a communication plan with your team as part of your project management setup. You’ll want to establish a separate plan with project stakeholders so that they know when to expect updates, but your internal communication schedule may have different requirements. Keep these considerations in mind as you work to align everyone for the duration of the project lifecycle.

Consolidate Your Next Project With SiteOwl

In the early part of the project, the amount of onboarding for customers and teams can be a major slowdown for production. Documents are flying back and forth; customers need to be given access to software; designs need to be made.

The problem is that there are so many teams and individual departments working on a project that specific details can often fall through the cracks. When that happens, both team members and customers can become confused — something that can linger for the rest of the project unless issues are quickly resolved.

Fortunately, this confusion is preventable with SiteOwl. Our project management platform is specialized for integrators and gives you the tools you need to consolidate files and create a shared workspace for your internal teams and external customers.

Rather than juggling documents and dealing with painful handoffs, wrap up contracts and reach project goals faster than ever before with SiteOwl. Get in touch with our team to learn how SiteOwl can change the way you do business.