Welcome to part three of the kickoff meeting for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs here at Aidpreneur. In this section, I’ll be discussing the five critical things to keep in mind when you show up for the kickoff meeting.
First, you should understand this is your chance to truly take the driver’s seat in the project. It’s important to remember that your client has hired you because you are an expert at what you do (at least you should be if you have proposed the work). Unless you are a subcontractor, or a member of a team that already has a designated leader, it’s my recommendation that you show up the kickoff meeting prepared to take on a leadership role to ensure that you focus and direct the project in the direction you wanted to go to achieve the outcomes that you’ve proposed. To do this, you need to be at the top of your professional game and, while it may seem obvious, you need to be prepared with a complete understanding of the project, your proposed technical solution, how the work plan flows and any other nuances. If you take a more passive role, which I have found is many people’s default position, you’re essentially handing control to your client and shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself following a path that doesn’t align well with the one you had envisioned for your project.
Second, have the kickoff meeting in person if possible. While this may not be possible for smaller size projects, I think including a human element with the kickoff meeting really goes a long way to creating rapport and establishing a working relationship with the client. And remember, your relationship management with your client is the single most important skill you need to develop. If you’re an individual practitioner, it will obviously be you that shows up to the meeting. But if you work for a company or organization, you should make sure it that you are represented by a staff member, and not a consultant or one of your partners. This isn’t related to a trust issue – indeed, you should have a very solid, trust-based relationship with both your partners and your consultants – but rather you want to have someone who’s on your payroll to look out for the best interests of your organization.
My third recommendation may seem a bit off the wall: during the kickoff meeting, as a part of your discussion on communications, insist on what I call, “a no drama policy.” If you’ve been in the humanitarian aid and development business for any amount time, you know the type of drama that I’m talking about. Because much of the work that happens in our industry has both political and real day-to-day consequences, drama crops up very easily. For example, recently ISG was performing an evaluation for a UN agency where things went very sour for one of our team members. Over the week that our team member was on site, somehow, they managed to receive accusations of foul play and ultimately be deemed a security threat. After, literally, weeks of listening, working with our client, and trying to understand what happened, we determined that a simple personality clash had started the whole ruckus, nothing more and nothing less. Because of the personalities involved, and their penchant for drama, a simple miscommunication almost turned into a contract-ending incident.
A fourth area to consider for your kickoff meeting, is to do your best to think of all of the potential issues that might arise during your project them come to the meeting prepared with solutions. Some examples you might consider include staffing issues, logistics issues, security issues, issues with partners or issues with and beneficiaries.
Fifth, I know that I’ve harped on this quite a bit throughout these training series Aidpreneur, but the kickoff meeting is another opportunity for you to under promise, so that you can eventually over deliver. You’re going to be sitting at the table with your client, based face and is easy to agree to do “more” in this meeting. You should come to the meeting knowing exactly what you plan on delivering. And that is exactly what you should agree to deliver. If, during the course of your work you’re able to deliver more, or higher-quality, all the better for both you and the client. But, don’t be pressured into agreeing to do more work and you proposed.
The bottom line that I’m trying to emphasize in this training is that you should do everything in your power to make the kickoff meeting a walk in the park for your client. They should leave this meeting feeling like you have everything under control and that they know exactly what you’ll be delivering over the course of the project. Anytime you can make your client feel like you’re taking work off of their desk, the better things go.
After you successfully completed your kickoff meeting, your project is officially in full swing and you need to properly monitor your progress to ensure that you are on track, on time and on budget. Monitoring an ongoing project is the subject of the next series of trainings here at Aidpreneur. Thank you for watching this training on to kick off meeting for RFAs, RFPs and RFQs. Remember if you have any questions at all please contact us at training@Aidpreneur.com.