Define the Purpose of the Meeting

There are mainly three types of meetings:

1. Meetings for exchanging information

2. Meetings for making decisions

3. Meetings for solving problems

Examples for each are (1) the project status meeting, which has the purpose of exchanging information; (2) scope/issue meetings, which have the purpose of making decisions; and (3) design meetings, which have the purpose of producing a quality product design.

An information exchange meeting achieves its purpose if all team members get the information they need to proceed with their work. Information exchange meetings are the place to disseminate product requirement changes, raise technical issues, announce changes in the lives of project team members, and report on risks that have either increased or decreased. Information exchange meetings are great forums for team members to use each other as sounding boards for their upcoming decisions.

An important part of a decision-making meeting is to provide participants with the facts they need to make decisions. A decision-making meeting does not achieve its purpose if the decisions are postponed. The purpose is to arrive at decisions that all participants agree to and can support.

The purpose of a problem-solving meeting is not only to develop a solution, but also to formulate jointly a common problem definition. It is important that all meeting participants have a chance to make a contribution. Just as with decision-making meetings, the purpose of problem-solving meetings is to decide on a solution.

Once the purpose in general has been defined, the next step is to prepare a specific agenda. An agenda is an outline of the content for the meeting. What needs to be on the agenda depends on the task at hand. For example, the agenda for a change control board meeting will list the specific cases to be discussed. It also may contain a discussion and vote on procedural changes and an announcement of a personnel appointment. An agenda for a status meeting will list important milestones, such as the documentation freeze, the beta release, and the version of the upcoming software build.

When preparing a meeting agenda, ask questions that will help identify the topics to be addressed. For example, when preparing an agenda for a status meeting, ask the following questions:

■ Which information is needed to begin work on upcoming tasks and who needs it?

■ Which external information and decisions have an effect on the project?

■ Which deliverables require coordination between several team members?

■ Are there any concerns that were brought up?

■ Which activities and tasks have been worked on?

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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