It’s very common across industries to either start or end the week with a weekly meeting to look at what happened, what issues we currently have, and what the upcoming tasks at hand are. Often you gather the team around breakfast sometime during the week, or a piece of cake in the late afternoon. It’s the time to unite the team, and get a perspective on what’s going on right now.
It all sounds great, and it’s definitely a great attempt, but often these meetings can get quite chaotic; nobody has the necessary overview, and plans begin to change again as soon as you leave the room. Often this is caused by lack of structure and processes to keep everything in check. Not just processes, but the right processes. Great thing, these processes might not necessarily need more time - actually quite the contrary.
Below we have a few suggestions for you that might point you in the right direction.
1. Project managers exist for a reason
The role of the project manager is to navigate the buzz. Keep everybody on the same track. Now, that doesn’t mean that he/she needs to control everything; absolutely not, that would be a creativity killer, but actually the main skill needed is listening. Listen to your team members’ ideas, navigate through it all, and decide on a direction that everybody can agree on. Also, remember not to go too granular in your planning. Keep the weekly view, and let the daily and hourly planning be up to the team members individually.
2. Plan for two weeks instead of one
One week is simply too narrow. A week is nothing, it’s gone in a split second. Instead, get in the habit of planning on a two weeks scale; this will make you able to look into your team’s upcoming work with a better perspective. What’s going on, on a weekly basis, is almost too supervisory. Take one step back, and continue planning. Now, of course this also depends on the nature of your projects.
3. Allocations for intended work. Assigned tasks as “set in stone”.
If you use a resource- and project management tool, you often have two types of allocations. General allocations to projects, and deeper allocations to tasks. A generally good practice is to use project allocations for intended work, and assigned tasks for stuff that needs to get done by that person. This will also keep your to-do list clean, and everybody knows what’s coming up.
4. Manage the traffic in your workflow
Some companies decide to have a traffic manager, in other words, a person responsible for keeping the allocations within the team aligned and up-to-date. This can be a great idea if you manage more complex projects; where you often need one person to have the day-to-day perspective across the team. Also, during these bi-weekly meetings it might be a good idea to have a meeting facilitator in place. Keeping track of time and the agenda during the meeting, making sure the discussion is constructive and on-topic, documenting upcoming action items and reviewing previous ones, eventually asking those not as active if they have any ideas - some might just not like the attention, keeping a parking lot of topics for another time, and finally asking the stupid questions if nobody else does. This could potentially be the same person.
5. Keep people accountable
Setting up action items, planning the roadmap, and allocating resources; doesn’t make sense if the team doesn’t keep each other accountable to follow through on those tasks. A good practice is to review the action items of the previous period, and if any issues caused a delay, then at least you know and can possibly discuss a resolution. Also, when planning new action items; assign a person to it, and make sure to set a deadline - that way the task doesn’t get down prioritized and ultimately forgotten about.
6. Connect your project management tool to your calendar
We’re all managing different personal and work related projects, and it can sometimes be a real struggle to navigate everything. A great tip here is to connect your project management tool to your calendar. This can be either your private- or business calendar, or both if you like. This should potentially give you a better overview on everything that’s currently up for you in your life. Your “upcoming work” in Forecast will show up in your calendar, and you can then use this view as your daily to-do list at work.
7. Insights for a more objective perspective
Lastly, having a continuous insight into the projects is paramount. This will show you how everything affects the plan you initially set up. Forecast delivers live insights for you, shareable to your client if you desire, and can thus provide you with a unique look into your business portfolio. You can also bring these reports with you into the weekly meetings you have. How’s the schedule, budget and quality of scope going? Are we behind or ahead of the plan? Do we need to make any changes in the coming weeks?
Of course there are many different ways to do planning, but these are at least some of our recommendations based on our general experience.
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