The project kick-off meeting with the client is held early in the semester. These are the tasks, some team, some individual, that you should complete prior to the meeting.
- Read the instructions that the client has been given about the meeting.
- Confirm date, time and location of the meeting, and arrive early. If meeting is at the company site, allow plenty of time in case there is traffic. Arriving early sets the right, non-student, professional tone.
- In advance of the kick-off, the team leader sends an email to the main company contact introducing the team. Include as an attachment a single PDF file that has the resumes of every team member.
- The team leader brings to the kick-off meeting a printed copy of the resumes of every team member to give to the company contact.
- Become an expert in the topic area of your project so that you can ask lots of intelligent questions at the meeting. For example, if a medical product, read one or more review papers (find via a PubMed search) on the relevant disease or procedure. For any product, read a relevant secondary market research study. The UMN Library subscribes to several market research databases. See the list of market research resources at the library NPDBD course page. Read anything you can find that does a deep dive into the relevant technology.
- Become knowledgeable about your client. If a public company, read their latest annual report. Find out everything about the main competing products and competing companies.
- Research the current products of the company.
- Research products by competitors.
- Conduct a brief patent search in the relevant product space. Use Google Patents or your favorite patent search engine. When reading a patent, focus on the background section that generally describes the state of the art and the problem the patent is trying to solve. At this time you don't have to worry about understanding the complete patent specification or about how to interpret claim language.
- Buy your project notebook (see syllabus) and bring to the meeting. Use it. For example record the names and titles of everyone at the meeting, or tape their business cards into the notebook.
- Skim the entire course textbook, then study in detail the chapters on opportunity identification and identifying customer needs.
- Have a good quality head-shot photo taken of yourself. A "head-shot photo" is cropped like a passport or drivers license or student ID photo and is generally taken in front of a plain background with good lighting and crisp focus. OK to smile. Email to team webmaster for posting on the team web site.
The expectation is that you spend a minimum of six hours conducting background research to prepare yourself for the kickoff meeting. You will be successful in your preparation if the company contact is impressed by your level of knowledge.
- Select a team leader.
- Select a team webmaster. Responsible for creating and maintaining the team web site and document drive.
- Select a team treasurer. Responsible for keeping excellent records of team and project expenses. Not a big job. Could be the same person as the team leader.
- Team leader makes sure that 12 items on the to-do list get done.