A successful project start begins with a kickoff meeting and a well thought-out kickoff meeting agenda. How FOM software can support project management.

An Editorial of the FOM Magazine

Kickoff, project start! A new customer, a new challenge. What is to be achieved, who is in the team, what does the project plan and project management look like?

Precisely such questions should be clarified in a kickoff meeting. This first meeting of the project team lays the foundation for cooperation and is therefore crucial for the success of the project.

What is a kickoff meeting in project management?
Kickoff meetings pursue a number of goals:

  • Setting concrete project goals and milestones
  • Getting to know the team
  • Agreement of the schedule
  • Informing and involving all relevant stakeholders
  • Creation of the project plan and allocation of responsibilities
  • Coordination of communication channels and project coordination

The kickoff meeting is not a presentation or pitch event, but the first milestone of the project. If the groundwork is laid correctly from the first meeting, the course of the project can be managed efficiently and thus the project goals can be achieved faster and more cost-effectively.

In other words, kick-off meetings are a meeting format with a guaranteed return on investment - provided project managers create the right meeting experience.

What are FOMs and what is their use for kickoff meetings?
The regular FOM Magazine reader is already in the picture but here again briefly for all newcomers:

FOM stands for Formal Online Meetings, i.e. structured meetings that follow a predefined process. The structure and the use of tools such as agenda templates, speaker management and automated minutes improve the preparation, execution and follow-up of meetings.

Essentially, the FOM framework is about improving the meeting experience and increasing the return on investment of meetings through standardization and automation. After all, every meeting is an investment of time and resources.

Kickoff meetings with a structured kickoff meeting agenda
Kickoff meetings are recurring meetings that usually follow a similar process in project management. Thus, they can benefit from formalizations based on best practices.
FOM software can support project management by providing the right tools and project management methods.

1. attendee management
When planning a kickoff meeting, you must first determine who will attend the meeting:

  • Who are the internal team members?
  • Who participates on the customer side?
  • Which external stakeholders (e.g. lawyers, consultants, experts) are needed?

FOM software allows you to create a directory of participants. Create all participants with name and email address, so they can send invitations at the touch of a button.

2. meeting format
Does the meeting take place online, hybrid or as a face-to-face event?

Online meetings offer many advantages, especially for decentralized organizations or companies with home office employees.

For larger events or meetings with a large number of external stakeholders, hybrid meetings are a good option. This allows attendees to choose whether they want to participate online or physically. As an organizer, you can also reduce the risk of participants having to cancel at short notice due to traffic jams or illness, for example.

3. kickoff meeting agenda
Create a kickoff meeting agenda directly in your FOM software so that it is available to you as an interactive agenda to display during the meeting. This allows all participants to follow the agenda on their screens during the meeting. FOM software usually also includes agenda templates that you can flexibly customize.

For example, a kickoff meeting agenda might look like this:

Kickoff Meeting Agenda 

  1. Welcome by the project management (5 minutes)
  2. Round of introductions (15 minutes)
  3. Client's introductory statement/objective (10 minutes)
  4. Presentation of the indicative project plan (30 minutes)
  5. Presentation of the project organization chart and responsibilities(15 minutes).
  6. Possibility for questions (15 minutes)
  7. Feedback round (10 minutes)
  8. Farewell (5 minutes)

This agenda would be suitable for a low complexity project. For large projects, individual milestones may need to be discussed as separate agenda items, speaking time for experts may need to be allocated, and longer feedback and discussion sessions may need to be scheduled.

Larger events should also create spaces for getting to know each other and networking, for example through coffee breaks.

The above agenda is suitable for kickoff meetings where a project plan has already been developed and is simply presented during the meeting. Another approach would be to develop the project plan together during the meeting. Then an agenda could look like the following, for example:

Example agenda

  1. Welcome by the project management (5 minutes)
  2. Round of introductions (15 minutes)
  3. Client's introductory statement/objective (10 minutes)
  4. Brainstorming session and mind mapping (60 minutes)
  5. Preparation of an indicative project plan (30 minutes)
  6. Clarification of the project organization chart and responsibilities(15 minutes)
  7. Coffee break
  8. Breakdown into working groups to refine milestones (30 minutes).
  9. Preparation of the detailed project plan (30 minutes)
  10. Vote on the adoption of the project plan (5 minutes)
  11. Possibility for questions (15 minutes)
  12. Feedback round (10 minutes)
  13. Farewell (5 minutes)

4. meeting duration
Kickoff meetings can last from a few minutes to several days, depending on the project scope.

However, it is important to determine the meeting duration in advance. In this way, you can prevent excesses and talk that unnecessarily drag out the meeting.

Assign a hard time limit to each agenda item and ensure during the meeting that these limits are met.

5. methods
Kickoff meetings should not be lengthy monologues by the project management. Instead, the cooperation of everyone present is required. For example, you could work together to develop a project plan.

For this purpose, FOM software enables the integration and fading in of other project management tools.

In some cases, FOM software also includes tools such as digital voting and elections, so that, for example, individual issues can be voted on or meeting participants can elect a person for certain roles. This is useful, for example, in projects in which various stakeholders are involved and have voting rights.

6. minutes
As the name suggests, kickoff meetings mark the start of the project. To ensure smooth implementation afterwards, the results of the meeting must be recorded and communicated. FOM software creates automated minutes for this purpose, which are made available via download.

A successful project starts with a well-organized kickoff meeting. What is your experience with kickoff meetings in your organization. Do you use FOM software for this? Write to us at contact@fom-magazin.de.