A New Template for Internal Kickoffs
Kevin Powers, Former Senior Digital Strategist
A while back we wrote about our approach to internal kickoff meetings; it has since evolved (like everything does around here!). The latest update of most significance is that we now use a presentation template to walk the team(s) through the project fundamentals. And we're sharing that document with you, so feel free to grab it and let us know if you find it useful.
The intent of this deck and the internal kickoff is to get the team appropriately acquainted with the upcoming project. We say "appropriately" because it's important to temper the amount of detail you provide. In most cases, your team members are presently working on another project or quickly rolling off, so the brain space to process (and more importantly remember) dense project details is very limited. (This plays into why we created a presentation as opposed to a standard, read-later document.) Keep the specifics pretty high level, and restrict the meeting to 30-45 minutes.
As you click through the deck, here’s what we’re discussing:
Primarily: what happened during the sales process, why did we sell this project, and what did we agree to build? We’ll also discuss the makeup of the client team, the timing, and money involved in the effort.
We highlight the deliverables named in the contracts, with two key caveats: (1) These details are usually subject to some change; and (2) the specifics aren't as important as the overall time and budget to complete the area of work (e.g., UX design).
Timelines often change. Instead of breaking down every small step of the project, we keep it broad and establish the timeline's larger chunks (e.g., UX design is 4-6 weeks and runs May to June).
To be clear, the success of our clients is paramount and everything we do focuses on making that happen. Beyond that, however, how can the project be a win for the team and company? We might focus on achieving tighter team collaboration; efficient handoff from visual design to front-end development; trying a new technology; or other internal goals. These will influence motivation and execution from the outset. (Throughout the project, there’s as much if not more attention on the client-centric success metrics.)
We ask team members to fast forward, pretend somehow the project has failed, and speculate as to why. It can feel overly negative at first, but getting in this mode of thinking (early) is wildly productive. We gain insight into risks and red flags that can be managed and referenced throughout a project. (In a future blog post we'll cover Retrospectives here at Viget (aka "post mortems") and the process of learning by looking back.)
This internal meeting is usually trailed by drafting agendas, reviewing research, and preparing for the big client kick-off meeting. When the entire team has a solid understanding of what we’re gearing up to do, we head into that big day strong.
We fully expect this process and presentation to evolve over time, and we’d love some external feedback on this approach. Grab the deck and let us know what you think. (And while we're on the subject of project management, did I mention we're hiring?)