How to Kick Start a Project

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Joined: Wed 15 May 2013 12:19 pm

Hello Managers,

I need your expertise and get ideas and advice on how to kick start a project when you get hired by a employer as a project manager.

Thank you for your reply in advance.

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I gather from what you say you are coming in to recover a stalled project. In that case, I would start with stakeholder interviews. Why has the project stalled, what is the root cause? Look at the risks, were they identified early in the project and is there a risk mitigation plan? Find out everything you can about the project and why it stalled. Be non-judgemental and listen so you get a good understanding of how the project got to its current position. Once you know this you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Once you understand where the project is hold a kick-off workshop. This may sound strange as the project is started, but as project manager you need to reset the project and start in the way you want to. This is the chance to draw a line under what has gone before, wipe the slate clean and make a new start.

In his article, 'Project Management Kick Off Meetings: What is the Point?' Ron Rosenhead recommends the PM ensures:
  • There is clear understanding to the background of the project.
  • Check that what you have is a project through the development of a business case.
  • Identifying project roles: project board, sponsor, project manager.
Read this article for some useful tips, How to Successfully Kick-off the Project Engagement

Hope this helps,

Duncan, since you covered the process of coming in to take over and restart a stalled project very nicely, I thought I would discuss coming in to kickoff a new project, but I see you included a link to my article on that very topic. Thanks!

So, in a nutshell, what I do is:
  • Get the statement of work in hand.
  • Meet with the deal closer of the project - be it a sales person, account manager, dept. head...whatever...because that person has some intimate knowledge of the clients wants, needs, quirks, etc. and you'll gain some insight from them that probably wasn't formally documented anywhere.
  • Meet with the new project client/sponsor to introduce yourself and set expectations for a formal project kickoff meeting.
  • Put together a formal presentation (Powerpoint deck, meeting agenda, etc.) for the kickoff session - send this in advance to the project sponsor for review/approval (not always, but usually a good idea).
  • Conduct kickoff.
My purpose of the formal kickoff is always to set expectations, clear up any miscommunications or wrong assumptions, review milestones/deliverables, discuss how the project will be run, and set the project in motion...establish when the next phase starts and who is involved.

I hope this helps...feel free to ask questions here or email me. Thanks.
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@ Brad - I do like your 'Kick Start Meeting' article a lot. It could very easily be used for the type of projects that I am involved with.

'Kick Start Meeting' article: ... ement.html
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