Project Kick-Off: The (Prioritized & Clearly Communicated) Fun Begins!

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Project Kick-Off: The (Prioritized & Clearly Communicated) Fun Begins!

You’ve signed the lease and built the team, now it’s time to get to work! stok’s Project Managers share a few words of wisdom for setting up your project for success by crushing your project kick-off with these strategies:

1. With your project in mind, rank the following in order of importance: Budget, Schedule, Design.

For some clients, this is clear cut. For others, these 3 critical elements need to be discussed, debated, and prioritized during your kick-off. The project approach will differ based on which element is the driver.

2. If budget is the priority…

Communicate a “design to” cost per square foot at the outset of the project. Challenge the design teams to take a creative approach to achieving budget goals. Bring the GC on board during schematic design to provide estimating and collaborate in design.

3. When schedule is the driver…

Design decisions should be communicated quickly and definitively. The Client should adopt timesaving strategies such as early procurement, design-build, and budget for overtime. Creating a detailed master schedule is your best tool for communicating and eliminating risks.

4. Should design conquer all…

Allow adequate time for discovery, strategy, concept, and programming.  Listen intently to your Client and stakeholders.  Consider an “integrated design” approach:  rather than looking at trades independently, take a look at building system categories, such as energy or human comfort.  Disciplines will collaborate and design in unison. Ask stok’s Project Management team to work with you on integrated design – we love this approach and have seen it create the most value for our clients!

5. Make the kick-off all about participation.

Enable all team members to be successful by creating an open and inclusive environment. Treat all participants as equals. Give everyone a voice. Listen to people in the room, especially the Clients’ vendors.  Be sure to communicate to the Client how valuable their participation is at this stage of the project. Early identification and involvement of the full team, starting at the project kick-off when possible, helps ensure that all vendors, consultants, and designers are moving forward with the same direction and constraints. This approach can significantly reduce redesign and procurement delays, and the associated impacts on schedule and budget.

6. Ensure everyone is on the same page at the end of the kick-off.

Can the entire team communicate the goals and share in the vision? Use this as a measure of your success during the project kick-off. A collective purpose can be very powerful, especially when the inevitable issues arise. Write the goal or vision at the top of your weekly meeting minutes so it cannot be forgotten.

7. Lay the ground rules for decision-making.

Ask that the Client communicate who the decision makers are or elect one for the duration of the project. Next, determine the process for decision-making. Communicate target turnarounds for design, budget, and schedule approvals.

8. Establish standards to streamline the workflow.

These include guidelines for communication, meeting format, note taking, change requests, and invoices. These may seem like simple givens, but formalizing these administrative components of projects from the start will significantly cut down on admin time for the entire project team and allow for clearer communication and consequent seamless project delivery.

9. Read the lease terms on the Tenant Improvement Allowance disbursement.

Be sure to communicate to your Client if they can request funds from the landlord incrementally throughout the project rather than waiting until the end.

10. Have we already mentioned communication?

Yes, ten times in fact! Communication is vital to relationship building, trust, buy-in, and success during project kick-off. Set up clear communication channels and use them frequently for clarity throughout the entire project cycle.

Please reach out to a stok Project Manager if you’re interested in project kick-off case studies. We’re happy to share!