A typical kick-off meeting should give relevant stakeholders a formal alert of start of work, provide contact information to relevant team members, define emergency escalation procedures/channels, review and confirm the project plan, set the schedule for regular status communications/meetings and so on. A well-organized kick-off meeting held on the first day of the project (or slightly before) provides good insurance that expectations are understood -- and thus likely to be met! -- on both sides of the table.
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This was first published in May 2008