Project Management Institute

Ready To Launch

We Asked The Project Management Community: How Do You Make Sure The Project Kickoff Sets The Team Up For Success?


“Be prepared for everything. Set up a time to learn the room and any nuances specific to it, such as a lack of seating or tech requirements. Memorize your top points and highest impacts so that you don't have to read them. This will demonstrate to your clients and your team that you have more than a “written” knowledge of the work to be performed. And to put people at ease at the start of the kickoff meeting, take a few minutes to have people introduce themselves: who they are, what role they have, how much experience they have and an interesting personal tidbit. Finally, respond to people by name when they ask questions—this will make a huge impression.”

—Sonia Montalvo-Johnson, PMP, senior project manager, Alipro LLC, Peoria, Illinois, USA


What other project kickoff practices can help ensure success? Share your tips on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.


“Ideally, the sponsor and a high-level executive with power and leadership should explain how the project aligns to strategic goals. The project leader should talk about objectives, scope and a high-level plan so everyone understands the phases and main deliverables. You should also address governance: Why are the defined key stakeholders needed for the success of the project? Make sure people understand the importance of maintaining communication with these stakeholders to sustain their interest from start to finish.”

—Giovanna Paola Galván Calzada, PMP, program manager, PepsiCo, Mexico City, Mexico


“I see the kickoff as a critical opportunity to sow the seeds for the project culture you hope will emerge. I ask everyone to come with a lesson learned from prior projects that might be useful this time around. I also ask the team to design a project ‘logo’ that focuses on benefits—not on the project output. We also write what we would want newspaper headlines to say for key milestones, including three to six months after project handover. It's fun, engaging and effective.”

—Gina Davidovic, PMP, PgMP, director, PM1World, Brisbane, Australia




“Think of the kickoff as more like the last activity in the business development life cycle than the first thing in the newly chartered project. The most important thing is handover from business development or others who initiated the project. They hold precious knowledge of the various stakeholders—and are capable of handing over relationships, rather than merely paperwork. Make sure it happens.”

—Saadi Adra, PhD, PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CEO, Advisors, Beirut, Lebanon


“You need to make sure that the vision and purpose are made clear to everyone's heart and mind. The project manager has to make sure everyone is on board with why the project is necessary and how it is going to benefit the organization. If your teammates don't buy into the idea, then you're going to have troubles all along the way. I like to treat kickoffs like an entrepreneur who is pitching his idea to an investor: Sell the project to your teammates. Show them how they and the organization stand to benefit from the project.”

—Ajan Paul, CAPM, associate manager, technical, ITC Ltd., Chirala, India

Stumbling Blocks

These are the most common causes of project failure cited by organizations:

img 39% Change in organization's priorities
img 37% Change in project objectives
img 35% Inaccurate requirements gathering
img 29% Inadequate vision or goal for the project
img 29% Inadequate/poor communication
img 29% Opportunities and risks were not defined

Source: Pulse of the Profession®, PMI, 2018


“A good kickoff should be about involving and engaging the people most relevant to the project. Although you're trying to develop strong relationships, you're also trying to establish a culture of transparency. So don't be afraid to ask tough questions during the kickoff—they are necessary to explore risks and discuss mitigation tactics. And don't let anyone push his or her agenda. A good kickoff sets the tone for how feedback is given and received throughout the project. Let it be based on forthrightness and honesty.”

—Aly-Terese Wilson, PMP, project management consultant, assistant manager, H.H. Wilson and Co. Ltd., St. George's, Grenada

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.



Related Content