Looking forward to the Opening Ceremony!

Posted: July 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The emphasis, excitement and media coverage surrounding this Friday’s Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics Games, is an imminent reminder of the importance of getting off on the right foot for any event or project. After all, the opening ceremony sets the tone, the atmosphere, the momentum and brings unity among the participating athletes.

Coincidentally, I am currently organising my own ‘opening ceremony’ in the form of a kick-off session for a major Europe West Comptel project. Whilst my ‘kick-off’ sessions are pretty tame in comparison to the blockbuster opening of the Olympic Games, they share similar objectives: team building, gaining credibility, marking the event and creating the drive and focus to succeed.

Of course, the Europe West services team believes in the importance of well-organised, structured and informative ‘project kick-off’ meetings, as well. And from our experience, an internal kick-off meeting should be followed by a more formal introductory meeting with the customer’s team. The ultimate objective for both of these meetings is to ensure the success of a project, by bringing the team together, outlining the project goals, and uniting everyone in the effort to achieve these. Based on this, I’ve developed a checklist for successful project kick-offs:

Basic introductions:

Introduce the customer to the project team, highlighting their needs and preferences. Establish the key stakeholders, walk-through the customer’s history with the company, and summarise their current technical architecture. In addition, such a session should include an introduction of the internal team members and establish agreements regarding the frequency of subsequent meetings and project reporting required.

Confirm scope and objectives:

When confirming the scope of the project, focus on what is to be delivered and what is needed to meet objectives. This is also an excellent time to answer any last-minute architectural or solution-based questions.

Align everyone to the plan:

The kick-off is the ideal time to share the overarching plan, in addition to project deadlines and milestones. Doing so is critical to ensuring the team members are aligned, driven and motivated to meet their deadlines. As with any good project plan, be sure to include identified issues and risks to prepare for any anticipated challenges.

Break the ice:

Remember, project kick-off meetings help break the ice, foster a sense of team spirit, and explain who is doing what and when! They also give the team a chance to ask associated product experts any questions that will enhance the delivery.

Hit the ground running:

Above all, the kick-off meeting is designed to enable the team to hit the ground running! With a good kick-off meeting, the team should begin on familiar ground with the customer and immediately understand the project details and their requirements.

This Friday, I will be watching the Opening Ceremony on television from East London, as the Olympic ‘project team’ officially kicks-off the Games. The spectacular event will only reinforce the importance of formally marking the start of a project — a sentiment that we share at Comptel and express through our project kick-offs.

And next week, with the Games in full swing, we’ll see what happens after the Opening Ceremony, as the project moves into full implementation! Furthermore, I am lucky enough to have a ticket to the Games themselves, so I will share my first hand experiences of events from London!

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