Business, Development, Fundamentals, Project Management, Scrum Tuesday February 9, 2021

How To Conduct Effective Kick-off Meetings?

If you are a product owner planning the Kick-off meetings for your project, you better do it!
A well-planned project kick-off meeting will help you establish expectations, gather requirements, and
set the project’s standard guidelines. After a series of emails, phone calls, and discussions, the kick-off
meeting is where your internal team will be finally meeting your developers.
As a product owner, it is essential for your project development that your team work together
efficiently to develop a solid plan. It’s your responsibility to ensure a well-analyzed collective decision
on crucial tasks ahead of time so that your valuable time and money aren’t wasted on internal
confusion.
However, conducting meetings without any face-to-face interaction between participants and your
offshore team can be very difficult. That’s where kick-off meetings come to the rescue!
Product owners often underestimate the importance of having well informed, inclusive, and dynamic
kick-off meetings during their software development. An effective project kick-off meeting creates a
shared understanding among stakeholders, synchronizes, prioritizes, and establishes norms for the
team.

Ten useful kick-off meeting tips for your project success:

  1. Invite key participants
    Invitations to kick-off meetings should be limited to key participants such as:
    • Stakeholders
    • Developers
    • Architects
    • Team leads
    • Testers, etc.
    Involving only the key participants will increase the productivity of the project discussion without any
    unnecessary discussions. A well-invited and well-planned kick-off meeting will be a constructive
    opportunity for everyone present to contribute their best ideas, share new experiences, best practices,
    and draw new strategies.
  2. Select the meeting platform
    The key to making efficient kick-off meetings is selecting the perfect online meeting platform that is
    fast, easy, and reliable. You need to search for integrated audio, video, and content sharing software
    with high security and privacy compliances. This virtual meeting software needs to embrace remote
    work culture to meet your meeting goals. For, e.g., Zoom allows group video meetings for 40 minutes
    per session. If your team is comfortable with zoom software and will meet the goals in 40 hours, Zoom
    is your software.
  3. Confirm the availability
    In this stage, you need to communicate with your offshore team to confirm your meeting’s date,
    platform, and time. Also, verify your internal team’s availability to make everyone understand the
    stakes, scope, and actions. If you plan to use audio/video conferencing services, ensure that you have
    confirmation of your participants for the same. Also, make it clear to participants to share absence
    notice advance in case of emergencies.
  4. Define the agenda
    To make kick-off meetings successful, the agenda should be explicitly defined to provide a clear and
    concise meeting goal. Hence, keep the meeting agenda very simple. It should be easy to follow,
    comprehensive, and time-boxed with all relevant information. There should be provisions in the agenda
    for periodically asking questions or reviewing documents. The agenda should guide the team members
    to understand what needs to be done to achieve the desired results. The kick-off meeting must be
    directed as per the agenda to achieve the defined goals.
  5. Stick to scheduled period
    If unnecessary matters impede the agenda, the meeting may run for hours, resulting in a highly
    inefficient and non-productive session. Hence, the kick-off meeting needs to be designed short and to
    the point. Align your panel according to the scheduled time without getting sidetracked. You have to
    ensure not to spend hours discussing your project beyond the meeting goals. Each member needs to be
    present on time and follow the specified time table for each topic discussion to achieve goals.
  6. Stay focused
    Next, focus solely on the agenda! Share your plan with all the participants before the meeting. If
    possible, have the team lead or secretary read over the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. Let
    everyone know the purpose of the meeting and why they should participate. Initiate the session as per
    lists on the agenda and keep track of all achieved goals one-by-one to stick to the plan. This can help
    your team to stick to the task, be engaged, and focus on the requirement at hand.
  7. Engage all the participants
    It would be best if you took the initiative to engage all participants in the discussion. If one person is
    not participating, try to encourage them to pitch in by allowing them to speak their mind. Similarly,
    don’t be afraid to counter ideas to refine the solutions. By engaging each participant, you are creating
    accountability in the outcome of the meeting. A complete team involvement assures better
    accountability and hence better result in the end.
  8. Avoid unresolved issues
    Any decisions that are made must be preceded by an explanation of why they have been decided. If
    certain team members are not satisfied with your decision, help them understand why the decision was
    taken? And what will be the outcomes of the decision? Making kick-off meetings successful also
    involves communicating the team’s expectations and goals. The team needs to understand what is
    expected of them without getting involved in any unresolved grudges.
  9. Schedule another meeting
    There is a possibility that the meeting agenda does not cover all the issues you wish to address, and you
    want to add more goals to the agenda as the meeting goes on. Or the meeting might fail to achieve the
    planned goals by the end of the session. In both cases, you can end the discussion by scheduling
    another meeting by explaining what will be achieved, what is expected of each team member, and the
    project.
  10. Summarize
    Before closing your kick-off meeting, ask the team lead or manager to share the meeting gains.
    Summarising your discussion at the end is an easy way to bring everyone on the same page before
    closing. For, e.g., “This presentation covered X points to achieve Y goals. It will benefit our team if we
    follow Z guidelines.” Give people time to absorb your meeting outcomes and ask any relevant
    questions. By ensuring everyone understood the meeting outcomes, you will make the most out of
    kick-off meetings.

Summing up:


A kick-off meeting is no different from any other daily meetings, but the application development
project brings additional meeting outcomes requirements. It becomes essential to get everyone into the
process from the ground up to create a unique software!
The kick-off meeting intends to open everyone’s eyes to the better opportunities that exist within the
organization. Following an effective kick-off meeting, everyone must be encouraged to contribute
constructively to the project’s overall success.
After reading through this article, we hope you will be able to conduct your kick-off meetings
efficiently, bringing in more credibility with your team – that will translate into a success!

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