The kickoff meeting is such a critical moment in a project; an opportunity to establish common goals and purpose in completing the work.
Goal of a kickoff meeting
- Get a formal GO for the project before it starts or establish what needs to be fixed before starting the project
- Give a starting date to the project
- Make sure the key stakeholders are up on the project and its requirements (e.g people and/or hardware)
Development should not be done before the kick-off to ensure the design and architecture are agreed-upon by all stakeholders first.
In which cases should you plan a kick-off?
A formal kick-off meeting must be set up if at least one of the following conditions is met:
- 3+ developers are going to work on the project for at least 2 sprints
- The project has an impact on shared resources and on the performance of a application
- The rollout or rollback of the project does not follow the usual process
- The project adds a new item to the company stack
- The project involves the creation of a new service, application or tool
- The project will be hosted on machines with a new kind of configuration
- The project adds or modifies cookies, or modifies URLs
This list is not limited to those items.
How to prepare a kick-off?
No later than 1 week before the kick-off (and thus, before starting any development on the topic): send the kick-off invitation with
- a quick summary of the project
- the link to the draft page if ready
- Ensure all dependencies (including hosting infrastructure requirements, external resources) are explicitly expressed and will be delivered in time for the project
- Make sure design has been discussed offline with impacted teams and architects and NOT during the kick-off meeting which should be very short. 15 minutes maximum.
- The kick-off meeting is not an architecture-review or brainstorm meeting. Failure to prepare well for the kick-off will result in your project being delayed unnecessarily, since you’ll need to do another kick-off once the above aspects have been clarified.
- Take into account feedback and if there is any conflict, the appropriate department’s manager should decide, at the worst during the kick-off meeting (feel free to postpone it if we need more time for the decision)
What is the Kick-off template?
Here is an example of Kick-off Template with main items:
Background / Functional goals / Success factors
Explain the background of the project. Expose the goals of the project by bullet points. The project is a success if XXXXX
Expose the non goals of the project by bullet points.
Explain the design of the project
List considered alternatives during the project
Timeline / Roadmap
Target is to have everything rolled out in production by the end of QX 20XX.
Business risks, tech risk and dependencies.
- Kick-off is organized and is led by the owner of the project
- Attendees: tech and dev lead, product “owner” and manager
- People who have commented on the design doc
- Reminder on the background and goals
- Design overview
- Dig into specificity
- Have a support (slides or page) to have something to show
After the meeting, a summary of the main points raised during the meeting must be sent to all invitees, whether or not they could attend the meeting. This includes, but is not limited to:
- GO for the project (or part of it). If things need to be resolved before starting the project, another kick-off should be scheduled once all the dependencies/approaches have been clarified.
- Questions raised during the meeting that require further investigation
- Questions raised during the meeting that are out of scope but require further action
- R&D-wide impacts agreed upon during the meeting (e.g.: architecture decisions)
- The documentation is updated with the points above, as well as the documentation’s status (Draft / In Review / Final)
Depending on the size of the project, the visibility, its length, duration and probably a few other variables, this list may be longer or shorter. We’d love to hear if you’ve got any thoughts on kickoff meetings. Please share your thoughts and discuss.