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June 11, 2019
161: The project kickoff

A few weeks ago on the podcast we discussed project retrospectives. A listener sent in a follow-up request for an episode about project kickoffs, which it turns out we have never discussed! Starting a project with a kickoff checklist can be useful for everyone involved. In this episode we discuss the checklists we use, and how to jump in successfully if you haven’t been involved in the kickoff.

key takeaways

Working as an in-house designer, it is rare to be handed a brief. You have to create the brief yourself at the start of a project. Consider the project kick off as a time to gather all the information you need to do your best work on this project. It is a time to ask lots of questions, figure out who does what in the team and what part of the project they are responsible for.

A design sprint is useful way to kick off a project. Or at Uber, sometimes the team uses a Design Project Kick Off template to guide the beginning of a new project. On the template it goes through introductions and roles, there is a section on business context and problem framing. There is also a section of user experience and context which dives deeper into who this project is this being built for and what is their user journey. There is a section on technology which is engineering focused and the template also includes the agreed schedule and milestones.The template is filled out by the designer, the researcher, the project manager and the engineer. Members of the Design Life Community will have access to a Project Kick Off Template after this episode airs.

Milestones are very important when kicking off a new project. A milestone can help to keep you on track and can be an effective way to communicate with stakeholders as to how the project is progressing. When setting milestones, be mindful of the milestones your stakeholders might have and ensure they align. This will help you to avoid conflict as the project moves ahead.

For recurring projects, like Cyber Monday, revisit the brief and retrospective from the previous year to work out what will be replicated and what can be improved. This information can then be included in your Project Kickoff template.

show timestamps

1.30 – Weekly Catchup
4.18 – Project Kickoffs
7.20 – Creating the brief
9.40 – Where does the kickoff end and the project start?
16.20 – Choosing a leader
17.40 – Joining a project after the kick off is complete
20.00 – Advice for designers

show links