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Kick-off meetings – A guide for clients working with digital agencies

May 2019

Over almost a decade of developing digital products and services, we’ve found that our clients benefit from learning more about important processes in Agile development. In this ‘Client’s Guide’ series, we’re shedding light on essential parts of the development process, and why they’re helpful for the project.

What is a kick-off meeting?

So, you’ve just signed the contracts for an exciting project. Before any work can begin, you’ll need to meet with your agency team for an important event: the kick-off meeting. While some people might have met during the selection process, this is often the first time all the key people in the project will get together. It’s a vital step in making the project a success.

During the meeting, there will be a structured discussion around the background, goals, processes, and requirements of the project. The idea is that everyone walks away knowing why the project is necessary, what they need to do, and what to expect as the work progresses.

Where, when and how long?

The kick-off meeting could happen at your office, at the agency’s office, or online. If possible, it’s always nice to meet face to face – we find that face-to-face meetings help create a sense of familiarity that gets everyone off to a good start. 

However, many of Bit Zesty clients’ have people based in different locations, and it can be hard to get everyone in the room at the same time. With the right tools, online meetings can be as effective as face to face ones.

The kick-off meeting usually happens after contracts have been signed, and early briefing has occurred. 

Depending on the size of the project and everyone’s availability, the kick-off meeting could last from two hours to the whole day.

Who should attend?

From the agency side of the project, everybody closely involved with creating and organising the work will attend. For us, this usually means the Project Manager, Service Design and UX Lead, Technical Lead and Account Manager.

You should bring people who will be involved in the project day-to-day and the decision-makers who will be approving the work. So if you’re creating a new website and your Marketing Manager and Head of Digital will be signing-off the work, you should bring both of them along.

What’s covered in the kick-off meeting?

1. Introductions

The person chairing the meeting, which may be the delivery or project manager, will go around the room and introduce each agency team member, along with the client representatives present. 

We may also take a few minutes to talk about the agency background, and explain why the different members have been chosen for the project.

Lastly, we may include a short (but fun) icebreaker activity that helps everyone get to know each other.

2. Background & project overview

During this part of the meeting, a representative from your team will introduce your organisation, explain why you’re doing the project and how it fits into your strategic goals. This helps us understand the greater context of the work. 

You and the agency team can then discuss and clarify the goals of the project. 

3. Technical and creative requirements

This part of the discussion should be led by a manager who is responsible for the implementation of the work. Depending on the nature of the project, we may need to have separate meetings for different phases of the project; but we will discuss some of the requirements and constraints during the kick-off meeting.

For example, points covered in the kick-off meeting could include:

  • The best approach to contacting users during the research phase
  • What research you have already done 
  • What visual assets you already have
  • Details for accessing your code and hosting

4. Teams and communications

Next, we’ll discuss the roles and responsibilities of everyone who will be involved in the project. We will also cover what your responsibilities will be at different stages, and which team members on your side will give support and feedback to the agency.

Additionally, we’ll discuss how the agency and your teams will communicate during the project.

5. Timeline, planning, budget & risks

A project or delivery manager usually lead this critical part of the meeting.

Depending on the project, we might do end-to-end planning or focus on the upcoming weeks, identify critical dates and deadlines.

We’ll also discuss the budget, and how any changes to project plans may affect it. Everyone should walk away knowing how the budget will be monitored, reviewed and updated.

Finally, we will assess known risks – what can derail the project and how we can mitigate them.

6. Wrap up

Before the meeting ends, everyone should get a chance to clarify anything discussed so far or bring up any other concerns. 

The project or delivery manager will summarise the key point agreed and highlight the next steps.

What happens after the kick-off meeting?

While this varies from agency to agency, you’ll usually receive a written summary of all the main points covered in the meeting (and any decisions made). This summary acts as a reference point for everyone involved, and it allows the client to update any team members that weren’t present at the meeting.

Your agency team will also start to plan their next steps internally, and create a detailed project timeline, which we will share with you. Besides, they may contact you with a list of materials and information they need from you. 

When does the meeting format differ from this?

Of course, every project is different, so no two kick-off meetings will be the same. For example, if the project stakeholders have conflicting needs and alignment is paramount for the project success, we like to take a more interactive, workshop-style approach. 

The most important thing is that after the kick-off meeting, everyone has more clarity about the project and feels excited to be part of it!

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