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Establishing Project Management Goals

April 22 2010

Establishing Project Management Goals

Every project has goals, right?  In fact, without goals, you really don’t have a project.  Actually, there’s usually not a lot of work to setting up the goals for your project – it’s often taken care of in the formal statement of work.  However, it may not be clear in the statement of work exactly what the overall project goals are.  And the project manager can never assume that the customer or the project team fully understands the statement of work.  In fact, the project manager should not assume that even they fully understand the statement of work.

Kicking it off

In most online project management organizations, the creation of the statement of work happens outside of the project management organization (PMO).  It often happens as part of a sales-customer process, unless the project is an internal one, in which case there is usually a heavier involvement by project management in the statement of work development.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that your project is external and that sales and the customer came up with the statement of work.  Again, you still can’t assume that the customer fully understands it.  In fact, you – as the project manager – can’t even assume that it is 100% accurate.  So, when you’re handed the statement of work and told that it’s your project to manage, what’s the first thing you do?  Ok, what’s the first thing you do after having a drink or a strong cup of coffee?  That’s right get ready to kickoff the Project Management Templates!

The primary focus of the project kickoff is to establish the course and direction for the project.  Therefore, during the project kickoff you need to:

– Have a meaningful, but limited representation from the customer’s team.  You need the customer there – you just don’t need them there times 30.  Yes, I had a project with a major pharmaceutical company who brought over 30 people to a two-day kickoff session.  That’s far too many players and it’s really hard to make decisions with that many people trying to play the role of decision-maker.
– Go through the statement of work with a fine-toothed comb.  In the world of project management templates, that statement of work is key – it’s the starting point.  Be certain that both sides understand it the same and agree on key points.
– Deliver a draft project schedule to the customer.  Based on the info in the statement of work, create a draft project schedule prior to the kickoff meeting and deliver it during this meeting.  This will give you a good starting point but you WILL be revising it immediately after the kickoff meeting…I assure you of this.
– Establish key dates, deliverables and milestones for the project.  You’ll do this as part of the draft schedule, but those are your assumptions.  During kickoff, work through all of this with the customer and truly establish these key points in the project and revise the schedule accordingly.  Create and assign action items during the kickoff meeting for any points you can’t agree on.
– Determine a schedule for the formal communications that will happen on the project.  Decide – with customer input, when the regular, formal communication will happen on the project.  These are the weekly status meetings, status reports, revised project schedule deliveries, etc.  And these are led and delivered by the project manager…always.


The kickoff meeting is critical to the project management process.  It’s critical to establishing the project goals and getting the project started off right.  Questions will be answered and uncertainties will be resolved.  Never skip this critical step.