Why is Project Kick-off important?
Project kick-off is one of the most important events in the project course. However very frequently underestimated and even more not organized.
Project kick-off is the real start of the project. Everything before is just preparation and warm up. Project kick-off should be recognised as the real start of the project execution. That’s when the timer starts off and counting.
Project kick-off has and technical part – it should be big red milestone in the project work plan from which all implementation tasks are originating. The emotional part is even more important – project team has to get the feeling – the race just start, it’s time to run. It’s the most important aspect of project kick-off: the project team and all parties with link to the project has to recognised the project is running.
Don’t underestimate soft parts of the project!
How to organise project kick-off
What I didn’t say yet? Project kick-off is a meeting. It is meeting of project management (including Project sponsor) with project team to say several important information:
• Explain project goals and expected project results – everybody has to clearly understand what is the Project for.
• Introduce project sponsor and let her/him to say important messages – Project team has to see there is somebody important who wants and supports the Project.
• Explain project organization – everybody has to understand his role, responsibilities and reporting lines.
• Introduce project leaders on all levels – this is the way how to authorize your team leaders. Establish them in their roles.
• Explain important project milestones – critical points in time has to be always visible and understood.
• Present communication plan – communication plan is the tool to organize and streamline communication. More explanation here.
• Explain important rules and policies of the project – every organization hat to have some rules even sometimes for small thing like will be cab cost reimbursed, on what condition.
Project kick-off meeting has to have two parts:
• Formal – convey important information about project organization and logistics
• Informal – it a celebration of project start
I urge you – always organize Project kick-off meeting!
Project Mobilization phase
I want to highlight a Project Mobilization phase basically for three reasons:
Project Mobilization phase is frequently underestimated
I saw quite frequently the Project Mobilization phase is missing in the Project work plan or is not planned at sufficient level. However, it’s quite complex and intensive task. Project team is something what in most case generates most of the Project costs. Therefore, Project resources will be always under magnifying glass.
You need to have good Project work plan containing Effort Estimates and Resource Roles. Then you need to prepare a Project Organization Chart to understand all leadership and overhead roles. Based on all those things you can prepare a Project Resource plan. Based on that you can develop a Project budget. And when you have all this stuff approved then you can start with Project Mobilization Phase. And mobilization means usually hiring people.
Quite some work, huh! You need to have somebody to do this.
Project Mobilization phase is critical to Project Success
Why is the Project Mobilization phase so important? The answer is easy. To have good Project team with all resources, skill profiles you need and proper level of seniority, being present on Project at the right time is extremely important. Project team is your ultimate delivery engine. It’s the body doing the work. Without proper team in place you don’t have project. You don’t have people to execute tasks from your Project work plan. I was in the situation having my Project Org. chart containing many boxes with label VACANT instead of real names. We were joking about vacant position. They are ideal resources. No illness, no holidays, no complaints. The only imperfect point is they are not doing the job. Your project is on highway to hell.
Project Mobilization Phase is complex senior type of work
Even if you have your planning job done perfectly and having everything approved, you still need to find the people during the Project Mobilization Phase. You have resource list without names. To hire people is difficult job. If you are working with long lasting project team, then you are OK. Starting from scratch is tricky.
You have option to recruit people from your organization, your company. Then you need to negotiate availability. There aren’t usually plenty of spare personnel. Or they might be from different city not willing to relocate. Then you can have experience with people commuting daily or asking you for home office work. It’s hard to manage team with people not present at project place. Project type of work is usually very personal and it’s hard to do it virtually, remotely. I used to call commuting team member tourists.
If you choose the option to hire external people, usually called “from street”, then you need to have very good recruiter, very good job description documents. Anyway, you will end up browsing heaps of CV’s and having series of interviews.
Don’t forget logistics and team building work
If you are lucky you’ve got your people. It isn’t end of tough job. You need to organize work place, office, entry cards, all the access rights. I did have a serious issues regarding missing or broken chairs, project office with broken air con, not enough parking places, building very far from any restaurants and canteen, no meeting rooms, missing printers and flip charts… All these small things can make you very busy and blocking your team from work.
Don’t forget to have you Project office ready from very beginning to help you to manage all the logistics.
Even if everything is going fine don’t forget the fact that people see each other for first time, they will not start working on full power from very beginning. Your team will require time to become the Team. And a lot of your focus, attention and communication effort. You will not manage it happen during Project Mobilization phase. Always start to build and form the team from early beginning.
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