Having previously had the opportunity to intern with six different marketing and communications agencies and departments, I certainly developed a list of “must-haves” and “definitely nots”, or things that made some of my internships the best and others a little less awesome.
Getting a project started can be a daunting task. It’s likely the first impression you’ll have with a client and the perfect time to establish expectations, roles, and responsibilities. Ultimately, a proper kickoff sets the stage for a successful project. While every organization will approach beginning a project differently, following these few steps will create a solid foundation for nearly any effort.
1. Scope the project
What are the objectives of the project and how will we meet them? Defining what we’re going to deliver (and sometimes specifically what we are not going to deliver) can create boundaries and expectations for everyone to agree on.
After the deliverables are determined, it’s helpful to create tasks and subtasks that need to be completed to check that deliverable off the list! Most importantly, what does the effort look like? How long will it take to meet the objectives?
2. Determine resources
Who is going to do the work and who is the best person for the job? Choosing the team and defining roles and responsibilities is necessary for smooth production of work.
Maybe you even want to create a project organization chart, which would show individuals who to raise flags and concerns to, and how they’ll work with other teams.
3. Create a timeline
You determined effort for each task when you created the scope, now it’s time to utilize that for a timeline.
Be sure to get buy-in from the resources. They may have some different perspectives that could help save time.
And of course, the more quality assurance, the better. Agreeing on a deadline for each task gives the team a date to work against and the client a date to look forward to.
4. Identify stakeholders
Hopefully you’ll have a point of contact on the client side. While you’ll be communicating with them day to day, there will still be many other people affected by your project, from the leadership team to other customers.
Ensure you’ve identified the correct stakeholders, so they can be kept informed throughout the project. They’ll be important in making final decisions and identifying potential roadblocks.
5. Presenting to the client
Let’s kick this project off! All your prep work can now be presented to your client.
Take the time to walk through what’s included in your contract (scope), who will be involved (resources), and when the client can expect to see deliverables (timeline and milestones). Confirm you’ve identified the correct stakeholders and to what degree they’d want to be involved.
Set a tone of transparency and commitment which will lead to a trusting, successful relationship.
Although sometimes forgotten, a prompt follow up and thank you often leaves a positive impression. Show your attention to detail by recapping the highlights of the meeting, immediate next steps, and when your contact can expect to hear from you next.
Don’t let analysis paralysis get you down. Taking these few steps can help get your project started in a successful, efficient way.
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