Project LeadershipProject Management

6 Things You Should Do When Kicking Off a Project

Successful projects start with a good kick-off. How managers start their projects and draw out plans for implementation determines the likelihood of success. Most often, project managers take the preparation and planning stage for granted, and tend to overlook important aspects that affect later implementation process. In a post at her website, project leadership coach Susanne Madsen lists six things you should strive to do to set off:

  1. Validate the business case
  2. Identify sponsor and steering committee
  3. Analyze stakeholders
  4. Set ground rules
  5. Gather requirements
  6. Create a high-level plan

Get Off on the Right Foot

Don’t put your effort into something that is insignificant to your business. When a new project gets assigned to you, you need to find out how important it is and validate its business goals. If multiple projects get kicked off at the same time without a clear objective, you will find yourself juggling pointless and trivial tasks. Don’t let that happen. If it is clear that your project matters and adds value to the business, you can start steering the project in the right direction. The next thing you should certainly do is to figure out who you will report to and will affect the life and death of your project. In order to keep the wheels running, you need to identify your sponsors and stakeholders. Analyze their background and characteristics to enhance your buy-in rate and make the project appealing.

For your team, it can be confusing if everyone is not on the same page. You need to set ground rules so people are aware of your expectations and ambitions. Don’t set the bar too low and then look up too high; you will create a lot of frustration and low self-esteem, which doesn’t do anything good to your team. You can avoid this by being explicit and transparent about the priorities for the project, what a successful outcome looks like, and how your team can achieve the goals set before everyone starts the work. A collaborative milestone plan is crucial in keeping your team on the right track and leading everyone to the destination. Madsen goes on to say this:

When you get allocated a new project, don’t just start executing the work straight away. At the least you must first understand if the project has a valid business case, who the project sponsor and the remaining stakeholders are, help the team come up with a common set of ground rules, gather all core requirements and create a high level milestone plan that the entire team is bought into.

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