Planing phase components

  • Schedule
  • Budget
  • Risk management plan

Kick-off meeting best practices

Set the right time. Choose a meeting time that works for everyone. Be mindful of time zone differences.

Set the right length. Choose an appropriate meeting length—no more than one hour. You don't want to waste people's time, but you also don't want to run out of time. Kick-off meetings work best when you first share key information and then spend any additional time on questions and team building.

Invite the right people. Be strategic about including the appropriate people. The goal is to invite attendees who play a role in the development and execution of the project, such as all team members, stakeholders, and the project sponsor. You don't want to leave anyone out, but you also don't want to invite people who shouldn't be there.

Designate a notetaker. The discussion that takes place during the meeting is important. It is critical that you document any feedback, changes, or questions asked by attendees. If you are leading the meeting, designate someone else to take notes before the meeting starts. You can also use tools like Chorus Notetaker, Google Keep, Google Docs, or Microsoft OneNote.

Set the agenda. To recap what we discussed in the video, a kick-off meeting agenda should generally include: introductions, the project background and purpose, project goals and scope, roles and responsibilities, the collaboration process and project tools, what comes next (expectations and action items), and time for questions and discussion.

Share the agenda. Prior to the meeting, share the agenda with attendees via email and identify speakers for each topic. By sending the agenda in advance, everyone will have an idea of what to expect, time to prepare for anything they may need to present or discuss, and time to generate questions or ideas.

Stick to the agenda. During meetings, discussions can sometimes go off topic or take longer than expected. As a project manager, it is your job to keep the meeting on track by redirecting discussions to the items on the agenda.

Follow up after the meeting. After the meeting, make sure to send out a meeting summary featuring the meeting notes and any action items.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

A WBS is a deliverable-oriented breakdown of a project into smaller components. It's a tool that sorts the milestones and tasks of a project into a hierarchy, in the order they need to be completed.

Steps to build a WBS Ref.: How to create a work breakdown structure and why you should

  1. Start with the high-level, overarching project picture. Brainstorm with your team to list the major deliverables and milestones. Example: Imagine you are planning a company event. Your major milestones might include categories like "secure venue," "finalize guest logistics," and "establish agenda."

  2. Identify the tasks that need to be performed in order to meet those milestones. Example: You could break a milestone like "secure venue" down into tasks like "research venues," "tour and decorate space," "make down payment," and so on.

  3. Examine those tasks and break them down further into sub-tasks. Example: You could break down a task like "tour and decorate space" further into sub-tasks like "organize decorating committee," "purchase decorations," "assign decorating responsibilities," and so on.


  • Create milestones from the project as a whole
  • Set deadlines for each milestones

Top-down scheduling: In this approach, the project manager lays out the higher-level milestones, then works to break down the effort into project tasks. The project manager works with their team to ensure that all tasks are captured.

Bottom-up scheduling: In this approach, the project manager looks at all of the individual tasks that need to be completed and then rolls those tasks into manageable chunks that lead to a milestone.

Milestone-setting pitfalls

Here are some things to avoid when setting milestones:

Don't set too many milestones. When there are too many milestones, their importance is downplayed. And, if milestones are too small or too specific, you may end up with too many, making the project look much bigger than it really is to your team and stakeholders.

Don't mistake tasks for milestones. Remember that milestones should represent moments in time, and in order to map out how you will get to those moments, you need to assign smaller tasks to each milestone.

Don't list your milestones and tasks separately. Make sure that tasks and milestones can be visualized together in one place, such as a project plan. This will help ensure that you are hitting your deadlines and milestones.