The temptation to 'dive' straight into the process of developing a Website as soon as a project contract has been agreed upon is incredible. Unfortunately, getting stuck in without careful initial planning all too often results in projects becoming exceptionally messy and difficult to deal with. So how do you start a project effectively? The answwer is simple: start of with what is in developer circles known as a 'kick-off meeting'. Here is what kick-off meetings are all about.
In essence, kick-off meetings are attended by the team about to tackle the project, the client and anyone else involved in decision making process. The objective of the meeting is to discuss and plan project details. There are several reasons why this is such an important part of planning a project and include:
Opportunity for all involved with the project to get to know each other
Extraction of significant information from all involved individuals, and prevention of 'information silos'
Provision of clarity on core project objectives for all involved
Promotion of active lines of communication
Basically, well-conducted kick-off meetings ensure a project will get off to a grand start and continue to flow just perfectly. Naturally, it is essential to prepare adequately for such a meeting. This involves gathering relevant internal information - this involves noting primary project goals, contact information for the project manager and an additional individual in case the former is unavailable, times of availability, and so on.
Gathering basic information of the client is equally necessary. This includes obtaining technical details like domain and server information, analytics data, potential previous SEO campaigns and so on. The best way to get this type of information together in time for the meeting is to provide the client with a relevant worksheet they can fill in in the period prior to the meeting - a week or so is typically sufficient.
Having prepared sufficiently, the meeting needs to be scheduled It should be noted here that attending personnel should be kept to a minimum. Ideally, there should be no more than one or two decision makers involved. Any more than this and the meeting is likely to end up in chaos. If a client insists on bringing ten decision makers, it may, as a matter of fact, be a good idea to rethink the decision to take on the project.
During the meeting, the idea is to basically discuss all aspects of the project, from the intended goal of the project through the fine details of what is needed/ desired - including features, content, images, videos and so on - to achieve this goal to what are realistic expectations both in technical and time scale terms.
Once the meeting has been concluded, a report detailing key decisions/ agreements should be produced and forwarded to the client. Naturally, it is then necessary to remain in contact during all project stages to ensure a satisfactory result.
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