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The Practical Project Manager

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Project Meetings – Are They Really Necessary?

It happens that all projects are run by means of meetings. Sometimes it feels like you are in meetings all the time. If you are running multiple projects at the same time, your calendar looks something like you need to clone yourself several times to attend all of them.

So do we really need project meetings and how can we lead more effective meetings and get more done while managing projects?

Meetings are an important project tool. But if you are not careful, they become a nuisance. Here are some tips to remember

Purpose of the Meeting

Why do we need to meet? In my experience, meetings are great for when you need a team decision, need the team to reach a consensus, clear up miscommunication or misunderstanding and generally to touch base with the project team.

Sometimes, it helps to have a working meeting where the team comes with their laptops and work is done with the relevant people in the room. This reduces the waiting time especially where work packages depend on inputs from several individuals to complete.

Ensure you have a clear purpose for the meeting and drive the agenda in that direction. You are the Project Manager so take charge and manage the session.

In project speak, there are several types of project meetings that are usually held.

Kickoff: Meet the project team, introduce the project, set the tone of the project and allow the Sponsor to meet the time and outline the vision of the project.

Planning: Once the team has had a chance to understand what is ahead of them, this is a session to agree in detail how to go about the project. Roles and Responsibilities are assigned at this point. A project plan also begins to take shape.

Walk-through: Project documentation is reviewed to bring the teams together and gain common understanding. Example is when a Business Requirement Document is ready, a walk-through is held. This can apply for contract reviews, design sessions and any other items that would need to be discussed.

Problem Solving: This is when an issue has presented itself and a solution is needed. The Project Manager calls in the key people (project team, management) who can generate alternative solutions and come up with a solution.

Presentations/Milestones: Make a formal presentation to managers, stakeholders, and others about the results at any point in the project to get guidance on next steps or just present status of the project.

Respect Time

Ensure you start the meeting on time and end on time. It is better to set up a long enough session at the onset rather than prolong a session. The team’s energy tends to fade off as the meeting becomes too lengthy and the quality of their input reduces the longer the meeting.

Be decisive about what is to be discussed. Stick to the agenda and ensure the teams don’t get derailed into side shows or bring up other items that weren’t in the original agenda.

You must lead by example and be disciplined about how you run meetings. The team will follow suit over time because a standard has been set.

The Right People

Now that the agenda is clear, ensure you have the right people in attendance. I actually believe that it is better to postpone a meeting and have the right people in attendance than have the meeting with the wrong people. If it is a decision that needs to be made, bring in all the people required at the session and finalize.

Trick with this is determine who is a must attend and work with their availability. This works especially when you need senior executives to attend.

Take Notes

Before the meeting starts, assign a scribe. It could be yourself as the Project Manager or assign one of the people at the session who understands what is going on in the room.

Action Items

For every meeting, generate action items and assign to individuals with a timeline. Publish the action items in meeting minutes and then, as Project Manager, follow up with the teams. Develop a discipline with the teams to do the work prior to coming to project meetings. Action items need to be clear.

What do you hate the most about project meetings? What have you done to make your project meetings productive?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Leave me a comment below or email me on thepm@thepracticalpm.com.

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  1. They are necessary.. and this is helpful for good meetings!

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