What should be included in an Agenda for a Project Meeting?

Generally, the participants of a project meeting are two or more of the following personnel – project manager, team leaders, developers, testers, senior management staff of the organization executing the project and representatives of the customer. For a meeting to be effective and satisfactory to all stakeholders the meeting agenda should be planned and shared with the participants when the meeting invitations are sent out. The participants must be informed in advance about the meeting schedule, duration, list of attendees, points to be discussed and status reports to be submitted for review. Participation may be through online tools, video conferencing, in-person or telephone. The meeting’s facilitator takes care of arranging the venue, preparing the agenda, informing the participants and convening the meeting. The agenda highlights the goals of the meeting and lists the decisions to be made after discussion.

The agenda for a project meeting will include the following items:

Statement of Objectives

At the start of the meeting, the facilitator briefly states the goals of the meeting and the list of topics that will be discussed. This list of topics in the agenda is shared in advance with participants to ensure that they have time and come prepared with their views and suggestions.

Introductions

During the initial project kick off meetings, the participants may need to be introduced to each other. On teleconferences, members who join will have to identify themselves by name and designation / role.

Status of action items of the previous meeting

The meeting’s chair person will call upon each person who has been allocated an action item during the previous meeting and request them to present the status of the task.

Project status report

The project manager presents the status of the project in terms of percentage of completion of project related activities.

Schedule variance

The progress of the project is presented by development team leader and testing team leader. If delays are identified, their impact on the final delivery, compensation techniques and ways to minimize the impact are discussed.

Issues faced by developers / testers

Concerns, risks, potential causes for effort and cost variances in the project and ideas to solve such problems are discussed. The person who explains the issue should come prepared to state the problem briefly and effectively.

Allocation of action items

During a project meeting, there may be tasks assigned to persons. For example, “The project manager should work with the customer representative to get login access to a particular system in the customer’s internal network”. When a task is allocated, a timeframe is set for its completion and a decision is made on the mode of communicating the task status to all concerned.

Question and Answer session

This is required for project meetings that are specifically set up to obtain clarifications from the client. If the client makes a presentation or explains a feature required in the system, the other participants may have questions at the end of the presentation.

Miscellaneous Items

The agenda should include a short duration to discuss last-minute miscellaneous topics that are important to all attendees.

Summary of minutes

The items discussed during the meeting are summarized by the facilitator and the Minutes of Meeting (MOM) are shared via e-mail or by placing the MOM document in a central repository accessible to all stakeholders.

 

The agenda for a meeting should state the duration that each item on the agenda is expected to take. During the meeting, the facilitator should ensure that the participants stick to their time limits while presenting status reports. This will prevent meetings from dragging beyond schedule and affecting other engagements of the participants. If the meeting is expected to span over several hours, logical breaks (for tea or lunch) may be specified in the agenda.

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