If I were to ask you what every project starts with, what would you reply? No matter what you’re thinking right now, the correct answer is a meeting -to be specific, a kick-off meeting. Why build so much suspense on one encounter? Because it’s here where many of the problems your firm deals with are born, solved and avoided. A mishandled meeting could wound up in a trial. This is a serious matter that if not taken care of at the right time, can turn into a giant snowball –and not exactly the cute type. Learn how to start off a project on the right foot below.
Where it All Begins
Right before you’re about to assign a team and establish a budget and materials needed to start a project, you absolutely need to organize a kick-off meeting. Why stress on this? Because you’ll establish the foundation of your project here, ie, expectations will be placed on the table. What does your client want? What do you want? You will both agree on terms and conditions. The kick-off meeting is the event where your firm and your clients will agree on the roadmap for the project ahead.
Houston, We Have a Problem
Now, if the kick-off meeting is so basic, why do firms often find themselves involved in lawsuits, or abruptly ending relationships with clients? For example, a deliverable that you submitted to a client a while back and you still haven’t heard from them. Because you’re on a budget you choose to keep going with the project. Until one day an awkward email appears in your inbox. Your client is confused and frustrated, ready to terminate the contract. What happened? If you take a few steps back, there is a high chance you’ll find the source of the conflict in –that’s right- the kick-off meeting.
Starting Off with the Right Foot
At the end of the day, a kick-off meeting could either make or break a relationship. We already know how easy it is to break one. So let’s lay down the foundation of a healthy, solid project. Here’s what should be discussed at your next kick-off meeting:
- Straight forward communication: Be gentle, but be honest about what you can offer and what your limitations are.
- Document everything: As you start the project, keep a written record of everything you’re doing, so as to have a clear vision of the project’s progress.
- Establish how you’re going to proceed with each new phase: Agree with the client on the process of approving deliverables. When and how will you know that you can move on with a new change?
- NEVER move forward without the client’s consent: Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets. All it takes is one email and down goes all your hard work. Ergo, always wait for the client to give you the thumbs up.
- Consider contract variations: keep in mind that clients don’t like surprises. As long as you keep track of everything and the client is aware of the full scope of the project, you can rest assured.
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