The kick-off meeting marks the launch of a new project and the start of a new client-agency relationship. Ensuring a project’s success requires strong communication and a good relationship between both parties. Projects take time, so ensuring that priorities are clarified, objectives are understood, and expectations are set from the start is an essential starting point to any project kick-off.
What is the Purpose of a Kick-Off Meeting?
The first meeting between the core agency and the client’s project team, the project kick-off is a collaborative forum to discuss ideas, objectives and requirements in more detail to build a clear project plan and set realistic expectations on both sides.
Meet the Team.
Initial introductions and outlining individual roles and responsibilities will provide a useful insight into everyone’s areas of expertise. This will also ensure you understand who you will be working with and who your main points of contact are. Key contacts for project sign-offs should be finalised at this point and an approval schedule can be shared for review by the client.
Aims, Objectives & Measures of Success:
Elaborating upon key business goals outlined in your initial client brief aids both teams in better understanding how these impact project requirements, functionalities, timeframes, budgets, branding and key user groups.
Establishing an answer to ‘what does success look like?’ defines how success will be measured according to the client’s goals and objectives. Success could be linked to the completion of key project phases or the go-live deadline, essential site functionality or site traffic, conversions or even revenue targets.
Understanding how you want to measure success underpins exactly how an agency prioritises the project roadmap.
Client Challenges & Project Risk Factors:
Whilst the agency will work towards delivering against objectives on behalf of the client, projects are never without there challenges, nor it is not solely the agency’s responsibility. Essential work throughout the project comes from the client too, delays in content and approval deadlines are the number one cause of late project delivery.
Project risk factors can include:
- Too many decision makers
- New project members/staff leaving in the core team
- Scope creep
- Integration with 3rd party systems
- Custom code
- Approvals/deadlines being missed
Discussing project risk factors at this early stage creates awareness within the team and provides a list of what are known as ‘watch-outs’ here at NetConstruct to mitigate risk wherever possible.
Communication, Approvals & Project Deadlines:
Maintaining good lines of communication avoids misunderstandings and complications down the line. Agreeing a communication plan that covers format and frequency of project updates is a recipe for success. As the client you know exactly what reports to expect and when, meetings and calls can also be booked in ahead of time to ensure availability of core team members and prevent delays. Tools such as Trello, JIRA and Slack are likely to be used by agencies to update clients and provide visibility of project progress.
Confirming client responsibilities for content and approvals from day one allows individuals to schedule reminders to keep to deadlines. Missing deadline could have a detrimental effect on the project and cause timeframes to slip, but with this in mind the agency will set realistic expectations for the client, including key milestones for completing project phases that both teams can adhere to that keeps the project on track.
UX Workshops, Focus Groups & Outcomes:
If UX workshops and focus groups are part of your project, be prepared to discuss your key target demographics to identify user personas. Such workshops provide insight from outside of your core stakeholders and may be facilitated by your agency. Subsequent findings will influence design, functionality, branding and tone of voice which can result in reprioritisation rather than reformatting the primary project plan, adding valuable input to the project ahead of the development phase.
Design, Development & Testing:
The finer details of design and development won’t be discussed in this meeting, but the roles of the client and the agency will be determined to establish who will be managing these core phases of the project and identify areas additional training needs of the client team.
Quality control is essential to a successful go-live and discussing a testing schedule including technical testing, CMS testing across all devices, and client testing ensures that all aspects of the project have been checked and approved in order to avoid any nasty surprises ahead of go-live.
Training & Support:
Go-live doesn’t mark the end of a project. We don’t hit the big ‘GO-LIVE’ button then expect the client to take over and manage the rest. Internal training for content management and in-house development teams should be discussed and scheduled to ensure your team is prepared ahead of the project launch.
Additional points covered may include:
- Account management
- Website hosting
- Support desk
- Site warranty for bug fixes
Planning in this way, ensure you feel reassured and supported long after the initial project go-live.
Whilst the initial project outline has been set out in the brief and agency proposal, the client kick-off meeting creates an opportunity for both teams to meet face to face and discuss the objectives in more detail. A clear project plan will be formed including expectations and risks, as well as outlining the key responsibilities of both parties.
Clarifying roles across both teams sets a strong foundation for the project, providing support and reassurance that every aspect of the project has been considered and allowing both teams to work together to complete a successful and rewarding project.