Hold a Kickoff Event

Building a PMCoE is creating a new business function, which is a big deal and should be treated as such. Among the many different ways to publicize the creation of the PMCoE are:

• A story with interviews in the company newsletter

• Posters and intranet Web site announcements

• Creation of a PMCoE intranet Web site

• Visits to department team meetings by the PMCoE leader

• A company-wide e-mail announcement

• Multiple announcements for Q&A events held at all company locations

• Special, by-invitation-only kick-off event (typically limited to executives, department managers, supervisors, project managers, and special guests from all areas of the company)

Doing all or most of these ideas provides the most effective means to ensure a successful PMCoE launch, because they provide multiple opportunities to communicate important information to all levels of the organization. The underlying agenda for each should be the same.

1. Identify the organizational position, roles, and responsibilities

2. Define the purpose, vision, mission, goals, and objectives

3. Identify the positive effects and benefits it will produce

4. Reduce resistance through frequent and varied communication methods

5. Provide answers to FAQs (frequently asked questions)

Delivering important messages repeatedly in a variety of ways can ensure the intended audience will receive and understand them. Planning communications is an important aspect of managing most projects, and it is critical to successfully establishing a PMCoE. It is particularly important when it comes to communicating with company executives, managers, supervisors, and project managers. The messages should be tailored in style and content for the specific audience, because each has different communication requirements.

Holding a by-invitation-only kick-off event is a critical activity that can directly affect the time it takes to successfully implement project management disciplines across the organization. This event can provide the means to:

• Give visibility to corporate executive commitment and support

• Establish a level playing field of project management knowledge

• Present the PMCoE vision, mission, goals and objectives

• Present a PMCoE implementation plan

• Engage functional managers in a hands-on participation of the PMCoE implementation

• Establish an in-house knowledge network to facilitate a forum for learning

Developing the kick-off event begins with the preparation of a proposal to sell senior management on the value of holding a special event, to request their active participation, and to obtain approval for the event budget at the level required. The proposal should include the following information.

• An explanation of why the event should be held and the benefits that will be achieved

• The proposed event theme and activities to be included

• A list of potential external speaker(s) with presentation content

• A list of desired internal speakers with anticipated roles and responsibilities

• The proposed event location (in house or off site), preliminary date, and timing information

• A description of handouts/gifts (books, bound notepads, puzzles, etc.) to be distributed to attendees as event mementos

• The event budget

Once the initial approvals have been obtained, you can use the following steps to plan the event.

1. Finalize the theme, agenda, and event activity details.

2. Establish the location, date, and time; visit the facilities to confirm suitability and review requirements with facilities staff coordinator.

3. Identify and obtain commitment of internal and external speakers and set up a date for delivery of presentations and handouts; confirm all speakers two weeks before the event.

4. Finalize the list of attendees, send out personal invitations (include a message from the CEO/president encouraging their attendance—it is very effective) two months in advance, and follow up with details and a reminder two weeks before the event.

5. Arrange for facilities, food, handouts, transportation, and lodging for guest speaker(s).

6. Finalize the event memento handouts/gifts and make arrangements to receive them well in advance of the event.

7. Hold the event and have fun!

8. Follow up with notes of appreciation and acknowledgments to speakers and all attendees.

Table 2-1 shows a kick-off meeting agenda we have used for two major PMCoE kick-off events, both of which were highly successful.

The focus of the morning session is to create a level playing field by presenting an overview of what the profession of project management is, where it came from, what benefits it provides, how it is viewed in the marketplace today, and where is it going as a profession in the future. A well-known speaker who is recognized as a project management subject matter expert should deliver this message. Beginning the day with opening remarks provides an opportunity for organization leaders to welcome participants, recognize important guests, and most importantly

Table 2-1. Kick-off Meeting Agenda

Morning Session 30 minutes 30 minutes

Registration and continental breakfast Opening remarks and introductions Keynote speaker—What is project

what are the benefits, and where is it management, where did it come from,

1 hour

Afternoon Session 2 hours going as a profession? Lunch break

PMCoE presentation: charter and creation of a PM Forum (internal

30 minutes network) Wrap-up Q&A

voice their commitment to, and stress the importance of, everyone's support of the PMCoE organization implementation.

The afternoon session focuses on presenting the PMCoE charter and introducing a concept for creating an internal knowledge network to provide a forum to discuss and share project management issues, successes, failures, and lessons learned on a periodic basis. Knowledge networks would be established at the PMCoE and PSO level of the company with membership comprising department managers, project managers, and invited guests. Meetings are typically held on a quarterly basis.

Engaging the functional department managers as active participants in creating, developing, and promoting ongoing activities of the PMCoE is a critical step in the process of building an effective PMCoE. Including these managers also helps the process of instilling project management best practices across the organization as a core competency. One way to accomplish this is to create task force teams responsible for assisting the PMCoE in the development, management, and continuous improvement of the processes, procedures, tools, and templates. Organizations have created task

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