Originally Published MDDI April 2005
Product Development Insight
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Basic time management is probably the most-obvious, most-often-overlooked, and most-resisted way of keeping a project on schedule. Following are some simple suggestions that work.
Communicate in writing when possible. Formal documents are preferable, but you can save time and be more consistent in circulating information by putting it in a document that can be handed to the next inquirer.
Reduce the number of meetings. Determine why so many meetings are necessary, and then address the fundamental problem that is taking up so much meeting time. Often, uncontrolled meetings are a symptom of a lack of written communication.
Reduce the number of attendees at meetings. Attendees should be limited to those who will actually make a contribution. If people are attending just to listen to the proceedings, send them minutes of the meeting.
Never hold a meeting without an agenda. Stick to the agenda and minimize the social chatter at meetings. When the agenda is accomplished, wrap up by summarizing decisions and action items. Send out the minutes soon after the meeting. Delayed minutes are seldom useful.
Develop a talent for ending meetings. Often the agenda for a meeting is accomplished early only to have participants review the results and action items. It sounds unlikely, but it takes talent to recognize the end of a meeting and to bring it to a close.
This is not to say that face-to-face meetings with the development team are not valuable. Putting prototypes in front of team members is effective for correcting problems during the course of a project, and holding meetings is an efficient way of doing so. However, too many meetings with too many people can actually waste time.
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