A lot of us have been there. Whether it’s been client side or at the other end of the table, the introductory kickoff meeting or conference call can make or break a project before it even begins. Having been on quite a few project kickoffs as both a client and an agency rep, we’ve recognized 5 key elements that can set the stage for the success (or failure) of your project:

    • Know who you’re working with. There’s nothing worse than going into a conference call and not knowing that your service provider doesn’t offer what you’re expecting of them. I’m guilty of this on the client side. We’re all busy, aspiring professionals but there’s no excuse for not taking 10-15 minutes to prep for your call. Luckily, I’ve recently begun putting it all on paper and everything is running a lot more smoothly.
    • Set clear, reasonable expectations. To some, “reasonable” is a very subjective term. Having worked the majority of projects on the agency side, however, we’ve come to realize that an effectively written services agreement will have everything spelled out. At an agency, “project scope” isn’t an abstract concept – it’s the definition of our role in your project.
    • Schedule weekly status calls. Making time either once a week or every other week will keep the project moving and keep all stakeholders apprised of any problems faced during the execution phase. Keeping an open line of communication is crucial in maintaining a positive relationship for both the client and the agency. Just remember to keep it consistent and not go overboard.
    • Invite key contacts and project leads. Text based communication methods like email, Twitter, and blogs are slowly becoming the primary tools when looking for a vendor. This is great in a digital world but it also limits interaction and makes it hard to actually get to know the people you are doing business with. Including important decision makers and key contacts in the project kickoff call will at least put a voice to a name and give us an idea of what kind of person we’re dealing with. We’re all guilty of labeling and assigning personas to clients or vendors that we only communicate via email (i.e. the cheap team lead that never wants to fund emerging media projects).
    • Assign a PM or Project Lead. This may be the most important piece of advice for any type of project, in any industry, in any type of role. Imagine a world where there are 4 client-side employees and 3 agency-side employees all sending email or calling eachother about the same project.
Now pop a couple of aspirin. Come back to the computer. Breath deeply. Exhale slowly. Continue reading…

Assigning one person to funnel communication to all internal team members will not only maintain your sanity but also keep the project moving forward. Communication and collaboration will do wonders in promoting a successful completion but over-communicating can be detrimental to progress.

Whenever we’re gearing up for a new project kickoff call, we use the above framework as a guide to start things off on the right track. Are there any tips you’ve found useful when planning and implementing projects on either a client or agency side?