Getting Ready for Nonprofit Technology Projects: The Importance of the Project Kickoff - Heller Consulting

Getting Ready for Nonprofit Technology Projects: The Importance of the Project Kickoff

At Heller Consulting, we are thrilled when we get to embark on a new project. The beginning of a project is exciting. But before the project team hits the ground running, it’s critical that everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction. What needs to happen when a project kicks off?  

Let’s explore the essential elements of a successful start of a project, or a “project kickoff.” 

The Importance of the Project Kickoff 

The project kickoff plays a crucial role in making sure all team members are engaged. You want to include all stakeholders, including those not directly involved in the project’s execution. Including these stakeholders makes sure that people are aligned, and that they all share an understanding of the project and the goals.  

Why take the time to include each person, even if they’re not directly involved? By being inclusive, you mitigate resistance to change, foster a collaborative environment, and provide an opportunity to communicate the project’s vision. You’ll have everyone in the “room” to establish clear goals and outcomes and demonstrate how the project aligns with your nonprofit’s organizational objectives. 

The Meeting Before the Meeting: An Internal Project Kickoff 

Before we kick off projects with our clients, our team aligns internally. During an internal project kickoff, the project manager should possess a comprehensive understanding of the project’s scope, a high-level timeline, and budgetary considerations. Equipped with this knowledge, the project manager can conduct a meeting with the rest of the internal team. 

During this meeting, the project manager identifies the roles and responsibilities of each team member based on their strengths and expertise. Areas that may require additional training or exposure for certain team members are also pinpointed to ensure everyone is adequately prepared. 

The internal project kickoff usually results in the creation of a team charter. This document outlines how the team will collaborate and work together to achieve project success. Additionally, the Tuckman Model, which describes the stages of team development (forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning), is often explained to provide insight into the team dynamics and expected progress. 

The project manager also discusses conflict resolution channels during the internal kickoff so that team members know how issues can be addressed and resolved throughout the project.  

Everyone Together: The Client Project Kickoff 

After establishing the project internally, the next step involves bringing in external stakeholders. At Heller, these stakeholders primarily consist of our fabulous clients and, occasionally, the technology partners we collaborate alongside.  

During this meeting, the project manager introduces the clients and external stakeholders to the internal Heller team, highlighting everyone’s roles and responsibilities. It’s also a time to review the project scope, the expected timeline, and the budget. Seeing this altogether provides everyone with a clear understanding of the project’s objectives, including the overall vision for the project and how it aligns with organizational goals. 

This meeting is also where project communication expectations are set. Good communication is crucial for successful project execution, especially during large-scale technology implementations. We make sure that clear communication channels and protocols are established so that team members know where to go and what to do when they need assistance or have a question.   

Supporting Kickoffs with Change Management  

Change management can make all the difference during a large project. That’s why at Heller, we incorporate change management best practices into the project kickoff process. Change management methodologies help identify potential challenges and obstacles early on, enabling the project team to proactively address them. We also know that establishing communication channels at the very start of the project and engaging everyone involved significantly improves the chances of project success.  

Set the Stage for Project Success  

A project kickoff is a critical event that sets the stage for project success. Our project managers use the start of projects to align the team’s efforts, clarify expectations, confirm the project vision and foster a collaborative and proactive environment. After a well-executed project kickoff, the project team can confidently start the digital transformation project and start to bring the vision of the project to life.  

Engage Heller Consulting for Your Next Project  

If you’d like to learn more about how our project management team can help you ensure a successful technology project for your nonprofit, contact us today. 

About the Author

Okiemute Numa
Okiemute joined Heller Consulting after years of strong project management experience in the public sector. With an eye for process improvement, Okiemute has enabled organizations to reimagine and re-engineer their efforts for better efficiency. He also has experience with procurement... Read More