How-To Kick-off a project

The kickoff meeting is such a critical moment in a project; an opportunity to establish common goals and purpose in completing the work.

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

Non Goals

Expose the non goals of the project by bullet points.


Explain the design of the project

Considered Alternatives

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
  • Milestones/schedule
  • Have a support (slides or page) to have something to show
  • Questions

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.

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