Multi-Project Kick-off Meeting Agenda

Quick Summary
Sample agenda for a meeting kicking off several projects at once, to launch a portfolio or orient (or re-orient) a team to their project set, relative priorities, and how it all fits in with business objectives.

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What this is

An example agenda for holding a kickoff meeting that covers multiple projects. In a sense, it's partly a "portfolio kickoff" meeting, with an emphasis on the projects' business objectives and the company's related priorities. The purpose of such a kickoff meeting is to orient a group (such as a division or department) to a set of projects they will be undertaking. This particular agenda was created by the project manager in charge of his company's "200x Development Program" - meaning the set of projects they had decided to execute in the next fiscal year. The agenda template identifies: Who should attend; Objectives of the meeting; Agenda items with owners/facilitator and timeslots. The agenda items first provide time for the group to cover the business rationale for and relative priorities among the projects. Then the meeting goes into mini-kickoffs sessions for several of the individual projects, including a discussion of the project's objectives and creation of draft Vision or Charter, and initial plan materials such as team roles and responsibilities, risk lists, issues lists, and timelines.

Why it's useful

This kind of kickoff meeting gets an entire group aligned to the company's business objectives and how those objectives have been translated to projects. The executives get a chance to state things in purely business terms. The team members and executives then develop Vision/Charter documents, key success factors, and other early planning work for each project in the meeting, leading to a solid group understanding of what the projects must accomplish and how each will proceed after the meeting.

How to use it

  1. Projects: Identify the set of projects for which such a kickoff meeting would be a good idea. This could be the portfolio of projects your company or group is about to start work on. NOTE: If you're already in progress on a set of projects, consider whether they could benefit from a re-alignment of everyone to the business objectives; if so, this kind of meeting can help.

  2. Agenda: Create an agenda by editing the template on the following page.

  3. Materials: Prepare draft materials to use in the meeting if desired. For instance, the creators of this agenda decided to bring in draft Vision write-ups for some of the more complex projects, rather than creating Visions from scratch (which would take longer); the project manager and a couple of key contributors wrote down what they already knew about the project objectives. Caveat: if you do this, you must position the draft as just that - a draft subject to team editing in the meeting. Or call it a "strawman" that is simply designed to get discussion going.

  4. Facilitator and Recorder: Identify a facilitator - this kind of meeting needs a facilitator, someone whose role is to keep the discussions on track, ensure the meeting objectives are being met, make sure everyone in the room is engaged and being heard. Identify a recorder who will take down Vision content and team decisions. Recording can be done on white boards, flip chart paper, or into a computer if a projector is available (the team needs to be able to see the results of their discussions.) NOTE: Sometimes it works for the facilitator to also record on the board/paper.

  5. Executive Preparation: Work with your executive(s) ahead of time-- review the agenda and get their buy-in to the goals of the meeting. Set expectations with them about what they'll present or brief to the team. Help them understand their role in clearly articulating the business goals of the projects and the priorities the team should be observing.

  6. Results: Publish the results of the team's work on each project. You will have generated drafts of several key early project documents including the Vision, Team Roles List, Risk List, and Action Item List. Be sure to explicitly record any key decisions reached about scope and priorities.

  7. Next steps: Schedule the next team sessions for each project.

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