Project Kick-Off Meeting Agenda: Banish Scope Creep Template

project kick off meeting

Picture this: You’ve onboarded a fantastic client. You’re psyched to get started and it’s time to hand the project off to the account manager.

The next step is easy: everyone can just jump right in and start cracking on those deliverables! Time to pour yourself a cold one.

* record scratch *

Eh, not so fast there, Kemosabe.

Shut the fridge door! Before you get started, you need to hold a project kick-off meeting.

Okay, what is this and why do you need it?

A project kickoff meeting is a critical step in any successful project. It gets your whole team on the same page, aligns the sales team, account manager, and deliverables team, and helps avoid unnecessary (and time-consuming) bottlenecks.

Sound good? Yeah, it’s a pretty great tool for scaling. But most importantly, a project kick-off meeting helps you avoid dreaded, costly, frustrating scope creep.

Nobody got time for that.

During a project kickoff meeting, you’ll cover topics like:

  • What exactly did sales promise the client?
  • Are there any special considerations for the client or project?
  • What’s the expected turnaround time?

Think about it: how can your team run a successful project that leaves the client happy without a project kickoff meeting? Skip that step, and you’re missing a crucial part of the delivery process.

Fortunately, it’s easy to run a successful project kick-off meeting that leaves every member of your team informed, aligned, and ready to dive in and get things done. The result is promises delivered and happy clients for your agency.

Ready to learn more about how you can master the project kickoff meeting process? Get the scoop below.

Table of Contents

What’s a Project Kickoff Meeting?
Why do you need a project kickoff meeting agenda anyway?
Sample Kickoff Meeting Agenda
No leaving the room without a clear-cut action plan.

What is a Project Kickoff Meeting?

A project kickoff meeting is the first meeting between the client and the team working on the project.

Wondering when to hold a kick off meeting? Great question.

Typically, it takes place after the agency has officially onboarded a client. Your team and the client have already agreed on details like the scope of work and the budget.

So where does a kick off meeting fit into the equation? The kick off meeting is your time to learn as much as you can about the client, their expectations, and their goals.

A well-organized kick off meeting agenda covers topics like:

  • The project’s main objectives
  • Team members’ primary responsibilities
  • The high-level scope of the project
  • Assumptions that went into the planning process
  • The proposed schedule for delivery and review

In a lot of cases, there’ll be more topics covered in a project kickoff meeting. But apart from defining the whats and whys, a project kick off meeting should also cover the hows, providing a clear direction and strategy for the project in question.

Who Should Attend the Meeting?

Put your dancing shoes on ‘cause it’s a kickoff meeting partay! Who should get an invite?

As a general rule, project kick off meetings should include everyone involved in the project. Or anyone who has a (direct or indirect) interest in it.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but the following people should probably get an invite:

  • The Project Team: The project team is your group of full-time and part-time team members who are working on the deliverables associated with the project. Depending on the type and scope of the project, this might include copywriters, designers, and project and account managers.
  • Project Sponsor: The project sponsor is the person (typically an executive) responsible for managing, administering, funding, and monitoring the project. To put it another way: the project sponsor is the person who makes sure work is getting done and that the project is on-track for delivery.
  • Project Stakeholders: The project stakeholders are the specific group of people who have an internal or external interest in the project’s successful outcome. These people may be your project team members or members of the client’s creative team.

While this is a general outline of the people who should be included in a project kick off meeting, it’s important to remember that each meeting and project is different. Include anyone who is important to the project and its successful completion.

Why do You Need a Meeting Agenda?

The start of a new project can feel a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of information flying around. You’re dealing with a new client, a new project, a new set of goals, and a lot of metrics and KPIs in-between.

Is chaos inevitable? No way.

It’s processes that bridle the chaos, and turn it into an organized system so creativity can flow.

The best way to keep that information organized and make sure you don’t miss anything during the project kick off meeting is to create a project kick off meeting agenda.

Here are a few benefits of flexing a meeting agenda:

  • Increased clarity about the project, goals, and deliverables
  • A second (and third, and fourth) set of eyes on the project to make sure all questions are answered and details covered
  • The development of important next steps — including a project execution plan and direction

Good news, Amigo. You don’t have to start your kickoff meeting agenda from scratch. Let’s take a look at a few kickoff meeting use cases and sample agendas you can adapt for your agency.

Sample Kickoff Meeting Agenda: 5 Key Steps to Follow

While every project is different, it pays to have a well-defined structure before starting any kickoff meeting.

Here’s the project kick off meeting template I swear by:

Step #1: Introduce the Team and Client

The kickoff meeting is a great time to make introductions. With that in mind, begin the meeting by congratulating everyone on the new project and thanking them for their time.

To ensure everyone is on the same page at the start of the meeting, ask a few key questions:

  • Has everyone been introduced?
  • Does everyone understand everyone else’s role in the project?
  • Is everyone familiar with the project’s deliverables and scope?
  • Does everyone understand the position of this project in the larger context of the company?

If the project involves people who have never worked together before, take some time to introduce everyone, provide some background, and explain how each team member fits into the project in question.

Step #2: Cover the Project Summary

You issued an intake form during the client onboarding process right? Be sure to do that. Because now’s the time to look over the responses.

This will help put the project in context and ensure everyone on your team understands things like:

  • What the project entails
  • Why it matters
  • Why it’s important to your client and team
  • Who the end-user of the site, product, content, etc. will be
  • Potential risks, constraints, difficulties, or roadblocks involved with the project

If there are any questions regarding the intake form or project summary, this is a great time to address them.

Step #3: Drill Down on the Approach

Typically, your agency will have already hammered out a Scope of Work (SOW) agreement before you sit down at the project kickoff meeting. Still, a successful kickoff meeting should cover the high-level scope of the project and, more importantly, the approach you plan to take to tackle the project.

Because most of the time, by the time they pay you they not only forgot what they paid you for and they want it done yesterday. #TheStrugleIsReal sooo…

Here are a few questions to ask and answer about the project scope:

  • What are the milestones and their delivery dates?
  • What tools, software, or platforms will you use to complete the project?
  • How will you address bottlenecks, time crunches, risks, compliance issues, etc. associated with the project?
  • Which team members or departments need to work together and communicate to get the project done?

Let the client know how your business and services work and agree upon the project scope.

Go through the timelines, estimates, statements of work, and anything else that’s applicable.

Remember your project management checklist? It was born for this. Get it out and start using it.

Step #4: Define Team Roles

project kick off meeting agenda

For a project to run smoothly, everyone needs to understand who’s supposed to be doing what, and when. To this end, acknowledge your team’s unique assortment of skills, and be sure everyone understands their role on the project.

Before you leave the kickoff meeting, attendees should know:

  • What they’re supposed to be working on (including key milestones, the expectations for those milestones, and target delivery dates)
  • The KPIs or metrics that will be used to track success on those deliverables
  • Who else on the team they need to work with

If anyone has questions about their role or position in the project, answer them during this phase.

Step #5: Outline Clear Next Steps

Next, come up with a project management plan to ensure that each attendee knows what comes next and what’s expected of them to drive the project to fruition. Set-up full project clarity before impatience takes over the meeting.

Make a plan for keeping everyone on the same page. This is the part where you talk about the collaboration tools you’ll be using, like Slack and Asana. You’ll also want to address how you’ll handle client questions that will inevitably arise during the project.

Discuss and clear misunderstandings regarding project objectives. Get all the questions out of the way before you start cracking on deliverables.

Bottom line: leave nothing to the imagination.

Wrapping up

To put it plainly: a project kickoff meeting is a must-do any time you start a new job.

In addition to helping you avoid unnecessarily time-consuming and (yikes) embarrassing miscommunications, a kickoff meeting puts every team member on the same page and makes it much easier to hit the ground running.

You can’t just waltz, or rather, stumble, into a kickoff meeting unprepared.

Instead, you need a project kick off meeting agenda. An airtight and scalable kickoff meeting agenda keeps you and your team on track and all bases covered. Oh, and bonus — it makes your team look good, too.

Okay, let’s review your action steps:

  1. Introduce the team and provide background
  2. Review the project summary and client onboarding form responses
  3. Define and align the approach and scope of the project
  4. Specify roles, deliverables, and tools used to get the job done
  5. Plan to collaborate, communicate, and get started on the next steps

While no two project management kick-off meetings are the same, the template above is flexible enough to adapt for any meeting. The idea is that it provides a strong foundation to build from and customize. With this template, you’ve got a decent starting point every time you sit down to meet with a client.

Are you ready to execute your projects like a pro and scale up your business like never before? Check this case study on how a divorced single mom of two turned her side project into a growing business.


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How to Organize Client Folders & Files: 6 Simple Tips to Try

Frustrated team, inefficient processes, overwhelmed brain . . . you know how it feels when your business tends to fade fast.

Help! I’m going crazy with all the digital paperwork!

This is an issue I often see when my clients and prospects are overwhelmed with the “piles” of digital documents around them.

What could be the culprit? 

Poorly organized, or even worse, unorganized client folders.

So, how to focus on the business and tend to the customers and clients when you have to hunt down hundreds of documents to get things done?

With folder structure.

Did you know that the typical American employee/employer spends two hours a week just trying to find papers?

Woah, that’s about a hundred hours a year!

Just take a deep breath and imagine you’re losing more than a hundred hours of productivity every year.

That’s profitability running straight out the door.

Losing money because your paperwork is not organized? It sucks.

But you can put a halt to all that disorder-craziness with a proper folder structure in place.

A Common Lost Brain Example

You’re in the middle of the day, and you’re trying to find a piece of paper, an article, or a client asset. So, you click at one folder, then another, and then another. But you can’t find what you need. 

You ring your co-worker and ask them if they know where the item is located? They say they’ll check and revert.

You wait and wait and wait.

Only to hear that they couldn’t find it either.

This is a classic scenario of LOST BRAIN.

You end up wasting your time — asking everyone around you to figure out what you need because you don’t know where it is.

But the good news is, you can STOP that.

And, INSTEAD, you can just go into your organized folder structure and get what you want. Quickly!

Because you know precisely where it lives and where it should be at all times.

This thing/item/document that you might be looking for is the BRAIN of your business.

It could be:

  • Clients’ assets
  • Proposals
  • Scopes
  • Change orders
  • Content
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Meeting notes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Frameworks, and
  • Anything that you’re producing for the client

So, where does it live?

It could live in a file, a folder, in your drawer, or a cabinet that has piles of paperwork already.

Take your BRAIN out of the DIGITAL MESS.

And make sure everything in your business has its organization.

Why?

Because you don’t want to end up hunting people down for everything you need.

Imagine this: If an employee leaves and you hire someone else, how do you expect the new employee to ramp up? Can they seamlessly pick up from where the previous employee left off?

Not unless there is a folder structure. It’s the only thing that can help them easily replace the brain of the previous employee.

And what would be the results in that case? 

Quick delivery, fewer hassles.

Understanding where your brain lives will not only help you train people faster, it will help you make more money by delivering to clients more quickly.

Overall, your profitability will increase, and you’ll better navigate and grow your business.

DIGITIZE and ORGANIZE Your Brain

Once you know where your brain lives, it’s time to digitize and organize.

This is where a folder structure or a folder taxonomy comes and changes everything — for the better, of course.

Excellent delegation isn’t a myth.

You can make that happen. But how?

By having all your papers, documents, and files in specified places and organizing them into folder structures. So that the next time someone needs a document, they don’t have to make a hundred clicks to get to it.

A well-organized folder structure will save time and $$$ for your business. And it will help you manage your business better. 

Give Your Business a Fulfilling Run. Ready, Set, Go!

Not knowing where your brain lives is a huge drain on your business productivity, sales, and profitability.

Understand where your brain lives, organize client folders, and save time and money.

While you are trying to find your brain, check this case study to learn how one of my clients doubled her sales, tripled her team in size, and decreased her expenses in less than one year. Oh, and guess what? You can do it too. Just ask ScaleTime how.

What is Folder Structure?

You’re working on an important deadline, when ding!, there comes a message from your colleague:

Hey, do you have that meeting note from last month’s meeting with that fussbudget client? He is asking for something that seems out of scope, and the boss wants us to dig in and check if his request is legit.”

Uh oh. That’s a message you wouldn’t want to see.

But you did. 

And, darn, there’s no escape.

Now, you’ll have to scroll through hundreds of folders and documents to find a simple record that you should’ve kept handy.

In fact, until now, it was handy. Or was it?

Well, this is why you need a folder structure.

Think of it as that binder you store all your physical documents in. It kills disorderliness and keeps everything organized on your systems.

It’s your solution to document clutter.

How To Build A Client Folder Taxonomy?

  1. Create a template — Have a standard folder structure template in place. When you know how to create a folder structure quickly, you’ll spend less time making it when you scale.
  2. Define the hierarchy — Don’t dump everything in folders. Focus on a logical progression and categorize the folders either by project, client, or department.
  3. Label them right — Hey, don’t rush when saving files in folders. Name everything descriptively to save time and frustration as you search later on.
  4. Create shortcuts –—While an efficient folder structure is your savior in most scenarios, you need shortcuts for the most commonly used folders and subfolders. But, don’t flood your system with shortcuts either. Go easy on them.
  5. Version and Iteration control — Create processes for storing and keeping track of versions and iterations of deliverables.

Why is Folder Structure Important?

Well, a good folder structure is crucial in various scenarios:

  • When you want to find an item without wasting your time
  • When you want to make your systems easier to manage and sustainable
  • When you want to reduce the digital mess
  • When you want to avoid the risk of people using the wrong document
  • When you want to have a structured approach to manage all the deliverables and documents and enable sensible search

So, there you have it, the ultimate guide on saving time with folder structures.

Master the Skill of Folder Structure

When it comes to managing client folders, you need a folder structure that makes document search easier and folder organization better.

Level up your folder structure skills by:

  • Creating a folder structure
  • Using templates
  • Maintaining a folder hierarchy
  • Labeling files, folders, and everything in between
  • Creating shortcuts
  • Implementing version/iteration control

Before you get busy with creating that perfect folder structure, download this free client onboarding guide and toolkit to optimize your client onboarding process.

If you have any tips to make the most of the folder structure, leave a comment below. And if you are facing any struggles or challenges with your folder structure, let us know.

Creating Sexy Systems with Smart Technology and Even Smarter Documentation

Stop employee morale degrade

Stop productivity dwindle

Stop profitability downswing

Most of the clients I’ve worked with faced some common “problems” before I helped them step up their processes.

Some of these issues I regularly hear about are:

“We don’t have the bandwidth to take another project.”

“We don’t know how to collaborate better.”

“Our team is too scattered. We don’t have a centralized database for information sharing.”

“An important client asset is missing; I don’t know where to find it.”

“Delegation is a nuisance. How to do it quickly without micromanaging?”

So, how to improve, Juliana, how?

I say with the right TECHNOLOGY and DOCUMENTATION.

If you’re lost in processes (like many businesses), take your employees out of the confines of their silos.

Enable them to collaborate and ramp up better — with the power of technology and documentation.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: make your team collaboration-and-delegation-ready because the lack of collaboration and delegation leads to inefficiencies.

And you can scale your inefficiencies faster than anything else.

Here’s how you can leverage technology and documentation for creating BEAUTIFUL PROCESSES and SEXY SYSTEMS.

Technology

I understand that chaos is the order of the universe. 

Choosing the right tools and pieces of technology will help you:

  • Work across verticals
  • Work across platforms
  • Work across teams – especially the collaborative and telecommuting ones

I mean, how to find all the information you need to get your business going?

For example, if Employee A is in Sydney, Employee B is in Singapore, and you’re sitting in New York, how the heck are you going to collaborate?

You would need all the information in one place — without banging your head against the wall.

Enter technology, and you’re on your way to cutting out the crap and improving performance.

Technology automates tasks and creates efficiencies. So, you and your group can concentrate on the more critical parts of the business — the BIGGER stuff.

Documentation

There’s no ONE document that you need to keep handy all the time.

You have to keep ALL your business documents easily accessible by all who are involved in your business processes.

From the video screencasts to the screenshots, the meeting minutes, the agendas, the contingency plans — every single piece of paper — hard copy or soft copy — should be well-documented to get into the nitty-gritty of the workflow.

Documentation helps you delegate things quickly and help people ramp up quickly.

Let’s say, John, your Account Manager, leaves the organization. You hired a new manager, but they’re clueless about which client needs what.

So, what will save your bacon? Documentation, baby.

When all your information is documented, your employees will be able to use it without any fuss — whenever, wherever.

Documentation = Quicker Delegation = Conversions $$$

It will also help you create quality along the way and have people do things the way you want them to do reliably.

So, as you skate around your expertise, take technology and documentation along with you. They’ll check off your goals sooner than what you’d do otherwise.

And they’ll keep your sanity intact.

Don’t Let Your Tasks Fall Through The Cracks

  • Adopt the right technology for better collaboration
  • Adopt documentation to track all of your projects and delegate quickly

 Here’s to stepping up to the next level.

If you have questions on what tech and documentation processes we use here at ScaleTime, leave a comment, and I’ll share it soon.

5 Pillars for Creating Stunning Processes for Your Business

Struggling to create a process? You’re not alone.

Companies lose 20-30% of their annual revenue due to inefficient processes.

And that’s freaking HUGE!

Many of my clients and prospects ask me, “Juliana, how can I create processes for my business?” Or I sometimes get, “How can I improve the processes I already have?” 

I advise: Rip those layers of red tape must-dos and GET SH$T DONE.

Processing a process is way more than having repeatable systems in place and that super-strong desire to document.

It’s the meta process of your business. It’s how you take the core part of your business and make it effective and efficient.

At ScaleTime, we understand you need super-awesome systems. And you need super-super-awesome processes to help your systems level up.

To unlock opportunities for efficient, effective and quality scaling, we use the following five pillars.

So, brace yourselves for the grand reveal of our killer five-stage approach that works for us every time and will work for you too.

1. Workflows

First, you need workflows. These are the repeatable steps that you need to keep track of your projects. They’re fantastic at giving you a bird’s eye view of the core part of your business.

So you can track a document easily. But workflows? That’s a different animal altogether. 

Creating a workflow process for your business is a checklist that lives in your project management systems and CRMs, helping you track the work being done. This lets you breathe more easily because you can see the workload, capacity, and deadlines. 

Think of the workflow as aides you need to define the people and technologies involved in the processes. And creating them is nothing less than an art – because your processes’ beautiful execution begins with the rightly crafted workflows.

2. Tech Stack

When creating business processes, you need to be skilled at leveraging technology. Because at the end of the day, it’s about collaboration. No matter where your team is, you need that collaboration to be visible and trackable. 

The main things in your tech stack should be: 

  • Project manager
  • CRM
  • Accounting software
  • Scheduler
  • Password protector

Your tech stack should include technology that creates efficiencies, streamlines communication and automates specific tasks so that your business can focus on high-level stuff.

3. Documents

How in the world can you delegate things quickly when there’s so much to do?

Through documents.

These are the support assets you need so that you are not reinventing the wheel.

This step of the process includes spreadsheets, decks, screencasts, screenshots, client documents, agendas, and all the information that helps you get into the nitty-gritty of the workflows.

It’s your key to faster delegation and to enable people to ramp up quickly.

4. Training

Remember that your business process is agile. You won’t have the same processes when you’re a $1 million business vs. a $5 million company.

As your business scales, it changes everything — from sales to production, from project management to the people involved. You need dynamic instructions to teach people how to perform tasks and reach levels of excellence.

This is where training helps.

It ensures you don’t get stuck in a rut and enables you to innovate and ramp up confidently.

5. Metrics

Metrics are the numbers that measure the efficacy of the processes.

Right Measurement = High Profit.

Understand and measure the key performance metrics for your business’s core part:

  • Metrics
  • Outcomes
  • Time a process is taking
  • People’s performance

This will help you drive results and profits.

So, there you have it: the roadmap to successful processes.

But, hey, when you have stunning processes in place, remember to keep optimizing and updating them.

Treat them the same way you treat your marketing campaigns or product launches. Because sustaining successful processes is as important as creating them.

Repeat After Me: Your Meta Process Is A FIVE-STAGE Approach Involving:

  • Workflows
  • Tech Stack
  • Documents
  • Training
  • Metrics

Go ahead, rock it.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

I’d love to know how you optimize your processes and which processes cause you the most headaches.

And if you’ve crushed it in a process, I’d love to know that as well.

How to Achieve Project Management Freedom

What do people say about you when you’re too much into your projects?

Do they think it’s a nightmare working with you on projects?

Well, $hit.

As a founder or a project manager, you may also want to achieve enough freedom for innovation, creativity, and personal judgment by stepping aside from the projects.

But striking the right balance between involvement and flexibility so that your team enjoys working with you (and you get a breather) isn’t easy.

If you can’t wait to get rid of the problems, the setups, the processes, the never-ending communication, I hear you.

Trust me. I understand being tired of the constant need to be involved in the business and the desire to step away from it.

That waiting for the day when you’re no longer putting out fires.

I get it.

But, Juliana, how to achieve that project management freedom?

With the right:

Tools

Equip your business with project management tools that are worth your time and investment.

From project management systems to databases, time tracking software, and communication tools — you need it all to allow users to control their tasks, conversations, and projects better.

Documents

I’ve said this before, and I’m repeating it now: documents and data are the real treasure of your business.

You must centralize all the documents so that everyone can use them without creating further dependencies.

Get a hold of all your decks, videos, client folders/doc management, internal files, sketches, client/vendor contracts, misc servers, etc.

You’ll be one step closer to project management freedom.

Workflows

As for the workflows, gather everything you’ve got to figure out what needs to be created, what can go into standardization, and what into optimization.

To up your game, go by these rules:

  • Too many workflows? Play cleanup. Did you audit your workflow templates and found that you’ve got too many? See if a thing sparks joy. If not, get rid of it so that it doesn’t clog up your system.
  • Not any? Let’s go. And if you don’t have any, or if you’re missing a lot, let’s go and build them.

But know this: Building templates is a team sport — not something you can do all by yourself. Get your team involved.

Trainings

One of the reasons why it is difficult for a lot of people to delegate the project management system and train people is because a lot of it has to do with making decisions.

So, how to train alongside decisions so that you can delegate stuff well?

For external, such as client requests, have a decision tree around them to make decisions quickly.

For internal, create a change board for initiatives. Evaluate the idea, the resources that are necessary for it, the objectives, and the outcomes. Then accept or reject it.

For meetings, optimize them.

Because if you are in meetings all the time and they aren’t even useful, you’re reducing capacity. Don’t do that, my friend. Don’t do that.

 

Performance

Without metrics and people, you just got a lot of pretty stuff.

So, to ensure you achieve project management freedom, reward people based on their performances.

And create some hashtags as you do it.

Something like #beastmode, #awesome, etc.

That way, when you can look for a particular hashtag, and see who has achieved how many, you can be like, “Wow, Jenny has got 15 beast modes in the last month. Let’s incentivize her.”

You can do this to quantify performance, both on the positive and the negative side.

Ninja Your Project Management 

When it comes to project management, make sure that it all works like a lean, mean competitive machine, like a beautiful organism.

Achieve freedom by:

  1. Using the right tools
  2. Centralizing documents
  3. Auditing workflows
  4. Investing in training and making decisions alongside
  5. Measuring performance

Project Management Compass: How to Navigate the Workflow Waters

2.5%

That’s the percentage of companies successfully completing 100% of their projects.

Bummer?

So, what really stops companies from hitting the sweet spot when it comes to project management?

Maybe most of them just suck at the navigation of creating the project management process, a.k.a the project management compass.

So how to manage your workflow better and navigate the workflow waters?

By understanding the workflow cycle.

Brace yourself for some project management success.

Welcome… strategy!

There are few greater joys in the business world than a project well strategized.

Whether you’re a project manager, the founder, the coordinator, or a gladiator who has been brought in to do this — strategizing is the cornerstone of success.

Strategize well to know the who, what, where, when, and how of the projects, the clients, the engagements, the retainers, and everything you can possibly think of.

More power to the plan

Despite its ridiculously ubiquitous influence, planning isn’t given as much thought as it deserves.

Begin your workflow well with checklists, assign people to the tasks, and get the milestones ready.

Pay attention to who’s going to do what

There shouldn’t be any surprises when it comes to accountability.

Deploy the work right. 

And let people know who’s accountable for what.

Empower for high performance

Eh . . . I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news. 

But your failure to empower people to take up tasks means you’re failing at the project management process.

You must aim to empower people to take on their particular tasks and projects and string along with them.

Mark your calendar

Set aside time in the calendar to review the workflow as it’s happening and QA the deliverables.

So yeah, I know you personally may not be queuing the deliverables. But make sure that they are getting queued.

When processes are reviewed well, whether internally by the team or externally by the client, you ensure they don’t clog up production.

Keep up with the workflow

Track your workflow against your timetables, milestones, invoices, and anything that holds significance to your business.

And as you do it, you might as well have to babysit the project. 

That’s particularly true if there are dependencies in a project.

You have to make sure that people are doing what they said they’ll be doing.

Set the priorities straight

Once you feel that your workflow process is deviating the line, don’t forget to reprioritize things.

Whether it’s a client-led delay that’s making it impossible to achieve a deadline and pushing everything else off, or an internal anomaly — always make sure that your priorities are still in order.

Reweighting the projects, including scaling the new ones, is frigging crucial to your PM success.

Hey, what’s the scope again?

It would be great if a fairy workflow mother flew from the sky and set out a superb project scope for you.

But when it comes to rescoping your workflow, you’re on your own.

Remember that projects are kinda perpetually changing entities.

And you know what? 

Whatever it is that you aim to create and what you finally deliver could be drastically different.

Which is why you need to rescope projects as you work to achieve the results. S

o, you’re not left wondering —  what the heck happened?!

What TO DO Next

Frankly, I wouldn’t blame you for getting confused when it comes to navigating the crazy rollercoaster that is the project management process.

Between the umpteen tasks, the goal to create more capacity, and more profitability, things could go a bit haywire. 

So, take the follow action points and ace your project management process like a pro:

  • Strategize
  • Plan
  • Deploy
  • Empower
  • Review (Q/A)
  • Track (Babysit)
  • (Re)prioritize
  • (Re)scope

While you’re at it, check this case study of how one of my clients built a repeatable, scalable process with ScaleTime. You can too!

How Do You Project Manage Your Project Management?

Have a project management tool that doesn’t really project manage well?

Ouch!

Almost thought you could make it work?

Well, you’re not wrong this time.

I’m going to help you do it with these simple yet effective tips that were, until now, missing from your project management game.

Here you go . . . 

Get off those spreadsheets

Before we make project management easy as a breeze for you, there’s a confession: I abhor spreadsheets.

And think you should too.In fact, I’m pretty sure you’re better off without them. For the sake of your sanity, just get off the spreadsheets.

What are you saying, Juliana? Spreadsheets are great!” Are you saying this?

Well, I love them too – for data, but you don’t need them to manage your projects.

Why? Because they’re not scalable.

For one, they don’t allow you to generate reporting on workflow.

Secondly, they don’t allow you to generate the capacity of the workflows.

Which is why, it’s much better to have a project management system outside of your spreadsheets. 

Project Management Tools You REALLY Need

Is sending constant Slack pings and texting back and forth to get the right info driving you nuts?

Don’t fret. Let’s get rid of Information Overload with the cheat sheet below.

These are all the tools you want to keep handy that’ll make communication efficient and effective:

  • Project Management Tool — For service workflows, internal projects, repeatable tasks
  • Database — To hold all your documents, clients and deliverables, and a separate server, if needed
  • Wiki — A place where people can go and search for information on how-tos, SOPs, and templates with a table of contents
  • Communication — A place to chat with the team on things that are not task specific so that you don’t bombard your inbox
  • Time Tracking — To ensure you’re on time, and it’s best if it integrates directly with your project management tool

Project Management

Want to know what how to go from eh, this is okay project management to GREAT project management?

  • Clear and easy to see status — Whether it’s list, campaign or visual style
  • Reporting — To be able to sort for backlog
  • Templates for workflows — So that you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you do a repeatable task
  • Integrations — With your email, communication tool, CRM, etc.

Wiki/Intranet: Google Sites

A Wiki or Intranet is your internal resource of all your SOPs, how-tos, etc. that you can optimize over time.

Remember how training can help you increase 25% of employee productivity? This is the tool that lets you actually do that.

It’s also great when you’re delegating or hiring and want a tool to orient.

It’s wonderful by all means.

But ensure that it has a Table of Contents, so you know what’s there and what’s missing.

Treasure Hunt for Docs and Data

What?

A treasure hunt for project management?

Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.

It’s the hunt for the stuff that makes your business repeatable and scalable.

That’s the real treasure of your business, and you need to centralize it so that everyone can use it.

So, grab all the:

  • Workflows: Delivery workflows, checklists (in spreadsheets, documents, whiteboards, notebooks, stickies or wherever else), and repeatable tasks
  • Docs: Decks, videos, sketches, client folders/doc management, internal files, misc servers, client/vendor contracts, etc.
  • Data: Data in spreadsheets, databases, SaaS cloud servers i.e. video conferencing, form/survey responses, dungeon drives, etc.
  • Client data: Passwords/security, deliverables, file versions, folder taxonomy, etc.

DO IT NOW! 

Be Like Nike. Just Do it. Do it NOW. I know you want to. 

If you’re hungry for simple, straightforward project management, this easy guide is your go-to recipe.

Roll it out ASAP with the following action items:

  1. Go on a treasure hunt for workflows
  2. Go on a treasure hunt for docs, data, and training
  3. Create templates of existing workflows and centralize ’em all

Project Management Checklist for Success [Free Download]

Hire a project manager, they said.

It’s gonna be awesome, they said.

Well, they were wrong.
Deadlines? Consistently missed. There goes another one.
And productivity is lower than a shipwreck.

That leaves two big questions: what’s wrong and how can it be fixed?

What’s wrong is you don’t have systems. Wishing and hoping that projects will magically start to run smoothly all on their own isn’t going to work.

But using the right project management checklist and processes will get your projects off to the races and on to the finish line with minimal hiccups on the way.

Repeat after me:

You 👏 need 👏 systems 👏 to 👏 scale.

All right, so what’s the big system secret to scaling in this particular scenario?

It’s a project checklist template.

Picture it — deadlines consistently hit.
Increased productivity.
Happy PMs and staff.
Is it too good to be true?

No! You just have to put the systems and tools in place to get it and scale.

Ready? Let’s go.

What is Project Management?

Project management is the way your company gets things done. In the words of Project Management Institute, “project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

So yeah, systems and tools. Like I was saying.

Anyway, when it works well, project management is the shiny, well-oiled machine you need to get sh$t done. It streamlines your deliverables process, makes projects more successful, and keeps everyone sane.

So, how do you improve your project management process? Take a proactive approach, and watch your agency grow. Here’s how to make better project management happen.

The Project Management Plan Gap

Your business is made up of many different moving pieces.

These include people, processes, products, and more. Left to their own devices, though, these moving pieces are like renegade windup toys running into each other.

Unless you bring some order to your project management process, the chaos will never end.

Clients be like, “Hey! Can you make this small change?”

It sure seems innocent. But it’s the start of the dreaded scope creep *gasp*. Before you can say it’ll cost ya, you end up with too many deliverables to fit into your finite schedule and bandwidth.

Result? A negatively impacted production and delivery line.

Here’s the thing.

If you can’t find a way to make all the moving parts fit together, you will end up with big, expensive, time-consuming project management gaps.

But good news, mate. The fix is in. A checklist will give you streamlined projects. Bust open roadblocks. And standardize processes and workflows across the board. Work smarter, not harder!
Download our free Project Management Checklist now.
Project Management Checklist

The 9-Step Project Management Checklist You Never Knew you Needed

No two projects are the same. So no two checklists will be either. As a general rule, though, here are the five essentials for a comprehensive, scalable, ultra-effective project management checklist:

1. Identify the Outcomes

First things first — identify the project’s goals, objectives, and the outcomes you need to attain.

project management

While you probably covered this during the kickoff meetings, ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  • What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • How are you going to solve it?

These questions are simple. But they’re critically important in defining the project’s core deliverables and determining how you plan to solve the client’s problem.

Plus, these questions help establish a high-level vision of the project. That way, you’ll know which team members to loop in to get everything done.

2. Communicate With Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people — internal and external — who have a personal interest in the project’s progress and success. Your job is to help meet stakeholder expectations throughout the whole project.

Depending on the situation, stakeholders may be:

  • Clients
  • Consultants
  • Project sponsors
  • Vendors
  • Internal management
  • Department leaders
  • Individuals contributing to the project

A good project management checklist should include a plan for each of the project phases. The checklist should have a plan for meeting and communicating with stakeholders. And it should also include a way for your team to identify and understand stakeholder priorities.

3. Clarify Requirements

The next step on the checklist is to outline all specifications and requirements for a given project. This will depend on the type of project you’re working with.

In general, though, you’ll want to consider a few key points:

  • Success indicators — How will you know whether the project was successful?
  • Tests and specifications — How will tests be administered?
  • Reporting metrics and formats — for both tests and success factors.

Once you’ve clarified requirements, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of your project’s performance and communication plan. This ensures you’re not missing any critical details that could otherwise derail a successful project.

Remember though, no two projects are the same.  Adjust these checklist details accordingly so they fit your project and team. The end goal is a clear vision and path forward.

4. Create a Project Plan

All right, you’ve done your research, outlined the requirements, and gotten your little duckies in a row. Pour yourself a drink and get comfy. It’s time to make a plan.

While most of us tend to think in terms of the project timeline during the planning phase, I recommend not starting with the project schedule.

Here’s why.

Before you can schedule project deliverables, you have to identify what those deliverables are. This is the time to get granular with things like specific steps. Understand the small parts that come together to form your completed project, and outline those milestones first.

If you don’t know where you’re going, how the hell do you expect to get there? Pinpoint your destiny, in this case, deliverables, then plan and schedule them.

5. Budget it all out

Once you’ve finished your project plan, it’s time to think about dollars and cents. At this phase, you’re working with a time-based estimate of what you think the project will cost. Ideally, the project stakeholders will give you a rough estimate to work with.

“But we don’t live in an ideal world!”

I know. The news reminds me everyday. If you don’t have a rough estimate, or your estimate is super rough, here’s what you need to do.

Identify the different elements and resources you need to gather to make the project work. Use that info to create a budget that’s as accurate as possible.

Budgets can be tricky things. Remember, they have both direct and indirect costs. Your budget might include things like labor, travel, digital and hard goods. Include it all.

6. Assign Resources

During this step, you’ll allocate resources to start getting work done. This means assigning tasks to team members and setting milestones.

As you assign tasks, take a few things into account:

  • Each team member’s skills, previous experience, and roles within the company
  • Their availability and bandwidth to take on new projects
  • The ultimate turnaround time and the deadline for the job

In addition to assigning tasks to team members, this is the step where you’ll think about equipment, software, and schedules.

Take a look at all your resources and ensure you have everything on-hand to get the job done. In rare cases, you may need to hire new talent, order more inventory, invest in new software, or take other steps to up your resources in preparation for the project.

7. Build Your Schedule

Congrats and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve determined what needs to be done and what resources you need to do it.

So what’s next? It’s time to schedule the project accordingly.

Are you using a task management platform like ClickUp or Asana? Cause, you should be. That’ll make it much easier to schedule out projects.

When scheduling, keep these in mind:

  • Start and due dates
  • Estimated time for each project
  • Time tracking functions for each team member
  • Dependencies

Pro Tip:

Use Calendar or Gantt Chart view to keep everything organized, and for more advanced project management, plan for resourcing and capacity. Prevent employee burnout and make sure all the stuffs are distributed amongst team members.

8. Establish a Communication Plan

Prevent project communication from turning into an Abbott and Costello skit. Establish a communication plan next.

During this part of your checklist, you’ll establish expectations surrounding project updates, check-ins, and communication.

Depending on your team and preferences, this could take the form of daily Slack check-ins, weekly meetings, or bi-weekly status updates.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for how frequently you should communicate, you want to make sure it’s enough to keep all the stakeholders and team members involved in the project up-to-date.

This frequency may scale up or down as the project progresses. So don’t be afraid to update accordingly.

9. Watch Your Progress

You’ve put all the plans in place, now it’s time to watch it roll.

If you’re using a project management platform, you can set up features like Critical Path (in ClickUp) or task urgency (in Asana). This will help you keep track of what’s done and what needs to be finished.

No matter how you do it, make sure you have an established process for tracking your team’s progress. It’s the best way to keep things on track and avoid running through your deadlines.

Simple Project Management Starts Here

Your project management process doesn’t have to suck. Instead, focus on:

  • Creating training protocols to increase productivity
  • Filling the project management gap with tools to get on the road to freedom
  • Downloading your brain to break free of the project management hamster wheel

Now you can keep your peeps accountable, protect scope and establish a high performance culture.

That’s it. Promise.

Identifying your project management cracks and knocking them out with these simple project management hacks is that easy.

Need some help with project management? Don’t forget to grab your copy of our Project Management Checklist to get out of the weeds.

Why Your Agency Needs a Client Onboarding Process

86% of consumers say they’re more likely to remain loyal to a brand if it invests in onboarding content — welcoming them and educating them after they’ve made a purchase. 

Did you know that more than half of consumers have returned a product/ service, 

simply because they didn’t know how to use it? 

Client onboarding is crucial for retaining customers and increasing brand loyalty. 

So, what does it take to have a supercharged client onboarding process in place

Don’t make it easy for your competitors to steal your hard-won clients. 

We’ll show you how to get started with a client onboarding process that’ll improve your customer retention rates. 

What Is a Client Onboarding Process?

Love it or hate it, client onboarding is the red-headed stepchild of your business. 

You know it’s there.

You know it needs a lot of TLC. 

But you still ignore it and put all your focus on the sales process instead.

And herein lies the problem:

Your customers deserve your attention even after you close the deal. 

That’s why client onboarding exists and is relevant.  

The client onboarding process is your ability to pass the baton from sales to production successfully. 

It’s the experience you give to your client as soon as you, well, onboard them. 

From the customer’s point-of-view, onboarding is the support they expect to get post-sale. 

But why does client onboarding matter?

A recent study by Wyzowl found that over 63% of surveyed customers believed the onboarding process was an essential part of their decision to partner with a brand. 

When customers feel unappreciated during the onboarding process, 

they’re likely to stop doing business with that company and take their dollars elsewhere 

— to someone who gives a damn. 

So, what does that mean for you? 

Those amazing customer acquisition strategies you’ve created won’t give your business a double or triple-digit revenue increase if your customer retention is low. 

To give your clients the confidence that they’ve put their resources in the right team, you need to spend at least half of your business development budget (roughly 10% of your revenue) on the customer experience.

The effects of this investment may not be immediate. 

But investing in customer experience can skyrocket your business revenue by 200%.

It’s that powerful. 

Remember, regardless of what you may have believed so far, client onboarding is your company’s backbone. 

Five Key Parts of An Effective Client Onboarding Process

Establishing an effective client onboarding can be overhauled in a few hours. Use these five simple steps to get started. 

  1. Client Intake  — Begin with the end in mind and make a list of all of the assets, things, or people you’ll need to create a fantastic client journey.
  2. Client Brief — Before your team starts working on a project, ensure they have a detailed understanding of the client’s requirements. A client brief is all the information on a project, from sales to production. The absence of an excellent brief risks failing to deliver what you’ve promised your client. So, make sure the client brief is accurate, detailed, and on-point.
  3. Welcome Kit — Acquiring a new customer may be exhilarating for a business. For a client, though, it may lead to buyer’s remorse. This is where a Welcome Kit, with a positive email, helps build trust in your business right from the start.
  4. Kickoff — Set the stage for the client’s expectations with a good project kickoff meeting. Ensure clear communication while introducing your team to the client and reinforce that the client has made the right decision by choosing you.
  5. Client Results — Client onboarding doesn’t end at the start of production. Map your client’s journey and measure the results against the promises you’ve made — regularly. During this process, cover all the touchpoints of your client’s journey for a seamless experience without chaos.

Supercharge your  Client Onboarding 

A quick reminder here — the moment you onboard a client, kick it into high gear! 

Keep that $$$ – attracting a new client costs five times more than retaining the existing one.

  1. Scope out client intake to get a handle on the people, assets, and steps to take for success.
  2. Give your team a detailed understanding of the project with a client brief.
  3. Build trust with your client with a Welcome Kit.
  4. Ensure clear communication and deliver on promises with a kickoff meeting.
  5. Map your client’s journey and measure the results.

Bonus: 

View our Client Management Checklist to learn what client management systems you should implement after onboarding. 

Top 21 Client Success Interview Questions to Ask for Best Insights

Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”

Wait, what?

Did he just say the most unhappy

What about the others? The ones you write home about — the happiest ones. 

Well, they add to your learning curve, too. 

Provided you know what they’re actually thinking! 

That’s why you’ve got some homework to do. You’ve got to know which questions to ask clients. 

If you’ve been wracking your brain to find new ways to reach and connect with your target audience, interviewing your clients during the offboarding process can give you great ideas and insight.

But Juliana, how do you conduct an effective client success interview with the right questions that get clients to spill the beans?!

Well, I’m glad you asked. This is how we do it with these top 21 questions to ask clients. 

Why conduct a client success interview anyway?

Your agency must understand the customer’s needs and expectations with your offerings. Otherwise, it’s like spelunking without a flashlight. Asking clients questions on the front and backend of a job well done gives your team the info they need to be successful.

But I don’t have time to sit and chat with every single customer and potential client!

That’s true. Asking every single client that comes through your digital door a battery of questions isn’t very scalable, is it?

But if you reach out to customers for a success interview at specific times in the buyer’s journey, your team can get much-needed insight into what clients are feeling and thinking when in the thick of the experience. 

Customer feedback is actual, real data you can act on to further optimize and scale your business. 

Asking clients the right questions at specific points in their journey will reveal new opportunities you can capitalize on. Answers to client interview questions can also uncover some not-so-good things happening with your brand that needs fixing.  

Scheduling a Client Success Interview

The first step in the process is to schedule the interview. I know, right? Who would have thunk it? 

While this might seem like a no-brainer, there’s a right way and a wrong way to scheduling a client success interview. 

Imitation is the highest form of flattery. Feel free to borrow our process and flatter us. 

We reach out to interviewees a week or two in advance before the date we have in mind for the meeting. All we do is send a simple email asking their availability for a 25-minute (tops!) interview.

Tips for wording your email:

  • Get straight to the point — Tell them precisely why you’re reaching out. Personalize it a bit, so it doesn’t come off as standard boilerplate or, worse — spam. 
  • Be respectful of their time — Be upfront with how much time you’re asking for — 25 minutes max. 
  • Thank them twice — Thank them for doing business with you (or considering it if they’re pre-buying) and for giving you some of their time for the interview. 

Remember to always be genuine in the email, keep it short, and forgo any pushy language. 

While it’s true that the answers you get from them will be a goldmine of data and help you further optimize your business, they’re really doing you a massive favor here. 

During the interview, I ask them a battery of pre-selected questions designed to elicit a detailed response that helps set us up for future success. 

But let me disclose these are not my questions. These have been passed down from generation to generation of marketers like a fable, and the source has been washed by the sands of time. 

So, before we jump to the questions, here are a couple of tips from the pros on questions to ask clients:

Pro Tip: These are time-tested questions that have helped me receive some of the best responses ever. Altering them isn’t recommended. At all.

SuperPro Tip: Keep asking “why” to get to the heart of the matter. Go ahead. Unleash your inner five-year-old!

These top 18 questions to ask clients are broken down into different categories, depending on where the client is in the buying process. 

So go right ahead and copy these. I promise to be flattered. 

Potential Client Interview Questions to Ask

I don’t know what questions to ask clients because I don’t know if I can even help their business yet!

If you’re not sure if you can actually help improve their business, ask your potential clients these critical questions to understand their goals, expectations, plans, and objectives. 

Set yourself up for success during the onboarding process!

  1. Before we started working together, what were you trying to do? What were the challenges you had? What were you trying to accomplish? Why? What were you frustrated by? What problems did we help you solve in your business? Why?
  2. What did you want? How do we improve your business? Why? They need your help and are here because they would like to work with you. Try to understand their business ideas and vision so that you can help them better.
  3. What are your expectations? Keep track of client’s expectations. As scope and expectations change, so should the contract?
  4.  What was your fear? What were you concerned about? What was your fear if you didn’t get what you wanted?
  5.  How did the other people involved in the decision all feel about this? What did they want? What were they frustrated by? What did they fear?
  6. What is your overall budget and projected starting date of the project? Knowing both pieces of information allows you to develop an accurate estimate that matches not just on price but also helps you accurately prioritize projects.
  7. What are your expectations on having good customer service?

Pro-tip:

Don’t over-commit just to win the client’s business. 

Quality matters, and not every client is the right one for you. Have some self-respect and quit chasing all the dollars!

Questions to ask potential clients: Understanding the pre-buying process

Use these questions for understanding where your potential client is currently in the pre-buying process and if you can meet them there. These questions are beneficial when conducting a sales call. 

Prospective client questions to ask during the pre-buying process:

  1.  What was most important to you when you were making a decision?
  2.  What factors didn’t matter as much?
  3.  Who was involved in the decision-making process? Who made the final decision or signed the contract? What was their title? It’s critical to figure out if you’re speaking to and dealing with the right decision-makers and understand the entire process for a business or project.
  4.  Who else did you look at? What other companies did you talk to? What other ways did you look at solving this problem?
  5.  Why did you decide to go with us versus other companies or alternatives?

There are two vital answers you need before you agree to work with a potential client:

  • Is there an actual need for your offering?
  • If so, is this person a good fit for your business?

You need both if you want to forge a long-term business relationship with the client and get referrals. 

Client Questions to Ask for Understanding the After-Sale Process

When you clinch the sale, asking clients questions about why they chose your specific company and why they like your brand can give your marketing team a lot of valuable insight.

Ask these questions after the sale:

  1. What do you like about us?
  2. How could we improve? Any feedback?
  3. If you were to describe what we do to another company, what would you say?
  4. Is there anything else you want to add or how we can be helpful?
  5. Based on what you know about us, can you think of anyone else whom it might make sense for me to talk to?

To make the process simpler, I open a Google doc on my screen before I start the interview and copy and paste the questions listed above.

I take as many notes as I can to fully capture the feeling the customer has for my brand.

Offboarding client interview questions and critical insights

Scheduling an exit interview with your clients helps get the much-needed brand clarity to drive more customers to your offerings. 

An exit interview also gives you the perfect opportunity to uncover any gaps in your processes and where you can improve your offerings. 

Conducting an offboarding client success interview also enables you to figure out what your target audience genuinely wants — not what the industry says they do.

So, if you’re keen on capitalizing on consumer decisions and behavioral studies, begin the charity at home by interviewing your clients during the offboarding process. 

  1. Schedule your exit interview. Use the question “why” to dig for those nuggets of insight.
  2. Ask questions that uncover your client’s pre-buying processes, like why they chose your company over a competitor and who was the ultimate decision-maker.
  3. Uncover your client’s after-sale thoughts. Find out what they enjoyed about working with your company and what they didn’t. 
  4. Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to ask for referrals. 

Oh, and always remember to thank them before starting the client interviews and again while wrapping up. 

After all, they’re doing you a favor. 

So, be sure to treat it like one.

Questions to ask clients: Be proactive and take action 

You won’t know if you don’t ask. 

Conduct a client interview during specific points in the buyer’s journey to get valuable insight into where your customer’s heads are at. 

  • Send a short and sweet email that gets straight to the point. 
  • Remember to thank the client in the email, during, and after the interview.
  • Keep the interviews short (15 to 25 minutes) and respect the client’s time. 
  • Simplify the process. Pick your questions beforehand and have a Google doc open during the interview. 

Bottom line? It’s on you to find out precisely what your client needs, how you can serve them, and why they’ve chosen you over a competitor. 

Asking clients the right questions during specific points in the customer journey will help you optimize your business for growth.

Are you falling through the cracks and gaps in your client process? That’s a bummer. There’s a better way to live. 

Schedule a free session with us today, and let’s talk about how we can fill in those gaps and get your agency running smoothly!