During my Citisoft career I’ve led or participated in countless initiatives for investment managers, service providers and asset owners, ranging from small investment operations projects to large multi-year transformation programs. Regardless of the size or scope of the project (a bank loan system integration, component outsourcing transition, or an enterprise-wide digitalization effort), by and large the most successful share a common component – a good start, spearheaded by a strong project kickoff.
The kickoff sets the tone for the entire project, so it’s critical to be prepared and deliver your message confidently and succinctly. It’s your initial opportunity to set expectations for the project team and key stakeholders. The most successful kickoffs are simple, direct and hit on five key points: vision, scope, team, roadmap, communication plan. Read on to learn how these elements can help benefit not only your kickoff, but overall project success.
Share your vision for the project, articulating why you are undertaking this project and how it aligns with the organization’s strategic goals. What business challenges will be addressed? What business opportunities seized? Establishing a clear vision unites the team around shared goals and allows each stakeholder to understand how their upcoming efforts support overall organizational objectives.
Clearly articulate what is in scope for the project, and as importantly, what is not in scope. This helps to manage stakeholder expectations and guardrail against extraneous questions or work outside of the project’s stated goals.
Who will fulfill the vision? Team members must work together throughout the project, so they should start off on a positive note. Discuss roles and responsibilities, providing stakeholders and team members an opportunity to clearly understand what role they will be playing on the project, and set clear expectations to help reduce conflict moving forward.
Share a high-level overview of the project plan including timeline, milestones and key deliverables. This allows the stakeholders to see the path to achieving the strategic vision. The kickoff represents the first step on the roadmap and the goodwill and excitement generated in a successful kickoff can get the project off to an auspicious beginning.
Set forth the project communication plan, including meeting cadence and the schedule for status report dissemination. This allows meeting participants to understand their project meeting commitments and limit one-off conversations outside of the project communication protocol.
Finally, close the meeting with a crisp, clear and enthusiastic message, reiterating the key points of the kickoff. Ensure all stakeholders understand the critical success factors for the initiative and the importance of open and continuous communication.
Not all kickoff meetings need to follow the same rigid agenda, but if you are kicking off a project, you can increase the likelihood of success by following these elements of an effective project launch.