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There are many different types of meetings, such as project kick-off meetings and weekly status updates but the project planning session is especially important. It is one of the centrepieces of the project planning phase in the project management lifecycle and is the direct precursor to the project plan which will set out the timeline, deliverables and processes for the project itself.

Unfortunately, as the methodologies for hosting meetings are usually very similar, all too often, people leave a project planning session without having advanced much towards a definitive project plan. If you’re getting your team leads together and want to make sure you’re making the most of that time, then here are some tips for running a project planning session as productively as possible.

Get the right participants

While having plenty of ideas can often be helpful when problem-solving, in the project planning phase, clear estimates and proposals are what’s necessary. In this regard, make sure your participant list is limited only to those who can speak decisively about their particular sphere of expertise. The goal is to nail down overall project specifics, there will be plenty of opportunity to expand on individual task strands later.

Define what are you hoping to achieve

To be able to get what you want out of the meeting, it’s first necessary to know what that is. Before planning the session, set out, with the assistance of team leads and other stakeholders if necessary, what your objectives are. These normally revolve around timelines, delivery dates, resource requirements and actual deliverables.

Create and circulate an agenda

To ensure all participants are primed to help you achieve their objectives, let them know beforehand what they will be expected to contribute on. The more prepared they are, the quicker you will be able to collect the information you need.

Keep a record

A project planning meeting is not so much about informing people as getting necessary information from them. This means that writing something down or recording the meeting is an absolute necessity, so that the input of the participants can be collected and formed into a project plan.

Watch the clock

A major issue with running any kind of meeting is certain topics taking too much time and the intended agenda not being seen. For your project planning meeting, it is essential to stick to the allotted time for each topic. If one element looks to be dominating and threatening to derail the meeting, suggest that you park it for a later date or see if you have time at the end of the meeting.

Have a clear and concise wrap-up

Everybody being on the same page at the end of meetings is surprisingly rare, with one study showing that 46% of employees rarely or never leave a meeting with an understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing next. To make sure your project planning session is being as productive as possible, give a short recap at the end and name-check each participant with the relative tasks that they are to be working on.

Increase your business agility with Clarizen’s project management software

Facilitating a project planning session is a key stage of the planning phase of your project. To support the creation and implementation of your project plan, Clarizen’s project management features can also be of great assistance. Get started today.

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