PM4DEV Blog

Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

How to Pay Attention in Project Meetings

The plain fact is that some project meetings can be very, very boring. It's not uncommon for members of a team to zone out through long sessions in a conference room. However, doing so can have a negative impact on your career. A meeting is usually organized by the project manager and he or she expects that all members of the team will attend and contribute to the discussions in a constructive manner, so there are expectations that you need to meet and if you do not pay attention or seem distracted during the meeting your supervisor and colleagues will notice. So here are the ways on how to pay attention in project meetings.

 

1. Get your sleep. Well-rested staff have a better chance of paying attention and really understanding what's going on, and the result can put you further ahead in your professional goals. Think about having a cup of coffee if you think it will help you to really focus in when things are going on in a meeting.

2. Make a list of your questions prior to the meeting. Taking your comments and questions with you will help you stay involved, which will give you a better chance of keeping your attention focused throughout the entire session.

3. Find a good seat. If there is a kind of "blind spot" in the back of the room, avoid this area and stick to places where you will have a good view of projected screens or focal points and where you can hear what is being said by presenters.

4. Keep the meeting on track with proactive comments and questions. Even if you don't have anything written down for a particular topic, you might be one of those people who rightly observes that a speaker is wandering, getting away from appropriate topics, or taking much too long to get across what he or she has to say. In these instances, you can do yourself and everyone else a favor by helping to focus the meeting, staying engaged and actively interjecting when appropriate.

5. Take notes during the meeting. Writing things down keeps you more engaged, and you'll come away with those choice bits of information that will help provide detail on future events or projects. It might help to file the notes that you take so that you have access to them if there's a scenario where they could come in handy.

 

 
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Project Management Constraints

Every project has to manage four basic constraints; scope, schedule, budget and quality. The success of a project depends on the skills and knowledge of a project manager to take into consideration these constraints and develop the plans and processes to keep them in balance. It is not enough for a project to meet the budget targets or to show to the donor that all activities have been completed on time. Development projects need to balance all four constraints if they want to realize the full benefits of a project.

Classical project management usually considers three constrains on a project: scope, time and costs (known as the project triangle), we believe that it is important to place under this category the constraint of quality. For development projects it is not enough to deliver a project according to the scope, on time and under budget; but the project must meet the needs and expectation of the beneficiaries who are the ultimate judges of the project quality.

Managing these constrains requires careful analysis and an agreement on the priorities for the organizations, the donor and the final beneficiaries. Depending on those factors a project may place more importance to the budget and quality than to the schedule or scope; these types of decisions, early in the project, have a fundamental impact on all the project plans that will need to be designed to ensure that the project is able to manage the four constraints. Failure to do that may result in the use of resources on areas that do not contribute to the ultimate success of the project.

The definition of project management implies that projects have specific limits in scope, schedule, budget and quality.  Understanding the combination of elements will allow make better choices when the project needs to make tradeoffs. The use of a triangle helps understand these relationships, adjusting any one of these sides, the other two are affected. For example, a change in the project plan to shorten the schedule might result in an increase in costs or require a decrease in scope.

 

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