What is a kick-off event?
Today we continue our blog series on the topic of events. In our last article, we already took an in-depth look at what an incentive actually is. Now we want to take you step by step through the best-known and most popular types of events. Today’s focus is on kick-off events.
You are familiar with the term “kick-off event”, but you don’t really know what it means in detail? Then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a closer look at the question: What is a kick-off event?
A first definition: the kick-off meeting
A brief explanation of the kick-off meeting before we take a closer look at the kick-off event. In short, a kick-off meeting (or kick-off event) is a meeting of a project team that comes together at the beginning of a new financial year, at the start of a project or even before a new project phase to discuss the project plan and the individual phases. Its primary purpose, apart from the exchange of information, is to motivate those involved in the project to successfully complete the phases and bring the project to a close.
A kick-off offers many opportunities to introduce a project appropriately, to plan the respective course in concrete terms and to make the appropriate arrangements within a team to ensure a successful conclusion.
If the respective team is possibly meeting for the first time – which is often the case with geographically dispersed teams or a previous purely virtual collaboration – a kick-off, as a project management term, facilitates the entry into the project or the new project phase.
In a nutshell, the kick-off focuses on motivation, a sense of togetherness and team spirit. After all, a successfully completed project is always based on a well-functioning and, at best, well-rehearsed team. For this very reason, a kick-off meeting is also perfect for a team-building programme. You get to know the team better, but you also get to know yourself better. Specially created kick-off events, which mark the start of a new business year or a new project and in the best case involve both the managers and the employees, are suitable for this.
Timing of a kick-off event
The kick-off meeting is regulated in a separate DIN standard. According to DIN 69901-5 “Project management – Project management systems. Part 5: Terminology”, the kick-off should take place before a project starts, but after the project has been planned.
However, experience shows that the time for holding it usually varies in practice. Often kick-off meetings can be found between project phases to promote the unhindered flow of information. If it takes place early in the course of the project, it serves more for marketing and motivation for the project, whereas in a later project phase it serves to coordinate the work and inform the participants.
The timing of a kick-off event therefore depends on the objective of the event.
Need for a kick-off event
Project-oriented companies are less likely to see the need for a kick-off event than organisations for which the project work has novelty or rarity character. This is because in a systematic approach, kick-off events in their original form are not necessary, since a complete project mandate, a transparent organisation and a well-rehearsed information system make an explicit meeting of the project group superfluous. It serves here more as a working body that develops the project mandate and is run under the start-up or project start-up workshop.
Goals of a kick-off event
The goals of kick-off events can be manifold. Primarily, however, they serve, among other things
- To motivate those involved in the project
- To communicate the goal of the project
- To emphasise the importance of the project for the company for the purpose of project marketing
- To gain the support of management for the project
- To inform the team about the process and the project plan
- To coordinate among the participants about the start and the distribution of the work
Contents of a kick-off event
The main contents of a kick-off event should be:
- Short welcome to the project participants by the project leader or, if applicable, the management
- Subsequent round of introductions of all participants, naming their respective functions (alternatively, in the case of large teams, an introduction of the team by the team leader)
- Explanation of the project goal, the benefits and the project plan as well as the opportunities and risks of the project
- List of those involved and division into different roles and contact persons
- Clarification and setting of deadlines and timetable
- Establishing communication rules and channels
- The moderated collection of feedback, concerns and suggestions
Participants in a kick-off event
There are also some recommendations for participants. Who should participate in kick-off events also depends on the nature and objective of the project or event. Accordingly, representatives of the client should be present, representatives of the management, the project team itself, the project leader and additional (temporary) project participants.
Design and forms of kick-off events
The kick-off event can consist of different elements. For example, it can be limited to presentations by the management level only, or it can actively involve the participants in the form of a workshop. Sometimes, in the case of important major projects, a press conference is also held afterwards as part of the kick-off event. Ultimately, the nature of the company, the working culture, the type of project and the goal of the event determine its content.
A special form of kick-off meeting is an online kick-off event. It reproduces all the contents and framework conditions of a live event, but takes place virtually. Any type of kick-off meeting can take place digitally – from the project launch event to the annual kick-off event. International companies in particular benefit from this form of organisation and often make use of it for geographically dispersed teams. In times of the home office, however, this form of event has increased in all sectors. However, professional implementation is the most important prerequisite for a successful digital kick-off.
Advantages and risks of kick-off events
As with any event, there are some risks to consider, but also advantages.
- The meeting of individual project participants and the joint work strengthens the feeling of togetherness and increases motivation.
- Kick-off events allow team members to get to know each other better.
- Different levels of the company meet and can create a common basis for influencing the course of the project in the long term, such as the client, project leaders and team members.
- The kick-off meeting creates a basis on which the opportunities and risks of the project can already be assessed.
- Poor planning can jeopardise the achievement of the project’s goal.
- A lack of structure bears the risk of not being able to keep to the schedule of the meeting.
- If team members meet for the first time, there is a risk that the actual goal of the meeting will not be achieved because too much time is spent on introductions and exchanges.
- A meeting with different management levels bears the risk that team members exploit the meeting to complain to management and thus also lose sight of the actual goal of the event.
Tips for a successful kick-off event
To avoid these risks, here are a few tips for a successful kick-off event. So, in any case – whether online or live – a kick-off meeting should be well planned and structured. Among other things, it is important to
- prepare the meeting well – i.e. set the venue, duration and agenda,
- inform the participants in good time,
- conduct and moderate the event in a structured way,
- make the best possible use of the kick-off for the exchange of information,
- communicate clear messages and
- follow up the event.
Follow-up is often neglected. A good way to do this is to take minutes and send them to all participants afterwards, in order to answer open questions afterwards and to record findings.
We hope we have been able to get to the bottom of the question “What is a kick-off event?” sufficiently today – nevertheless, we look forward to your feedback. Feel free to contact us with any questions, comments or requests. Also make sure you don’t miss our next blog post, in which we will look at the next type of event in detail.