Facilitating and managing an IT Project meeting is not the same as transcribing the meeting. There is much more to managing meetings than just taking notes and then sending them to the project team afterward.
The focus of this article will be situations where the topic of conversation is technical in nature and you are not familiar with any of the technologies discussed. In this situation, you normally would think that you will not understand what's being said so let the tech teams worry about what needs to be done. However, you are still accountable as the project manager to ensure this meeting goes effectively.
So, how do you manage a meeting where you know nothing about the topic? Don't transcribe. Listen to the conversation for the following points:
Risks/Issues That Have Arisen
Notice any risks or issues that have arisen and note those. Make absolutely sure that you walk out of the meeting understanding how this risk or issue impacts the project. Keep asking questions until you are clear. The tech team is accountable to you to explain situations arising. Leverage a risk register to do this.
Note Decisions Taken
During the course of the conversation, listen carefully if decisions have been made on questions that were open. You will need to fully understand this decision so you can add it to your Decisions log. If you have questions or concerns about the decision being taken, make sure this is clarified before the meeting ends. If you feel that the decision will have an impact on your project you have every right to question it.
Confirm Next Actions
There will be a lot of tech being discussed that you may not understand, but you must understand the next actions to be taken. Listen closely to the actions that must be taken during the technical discussion. Be sure to give yourself time toward the end of your meeting so that you can confirm with the team what are the next actions, who's responsible for each action, and when can this action be completed. Be sure to add these actions to your Action Item Document (AID) to track them to completion.
It may be tempting for you to multitask during a technical call as you're figuring that the technical team will work things out on their own. Avoid this temptation as your role as a Project Manager is to ensure the whole team understands what needs to be done and when.
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