Most projects involve both stakeholder and internal meetings. A project of any substantial size should involve a weekly or bi-weekly team sync. Most of the time, when we deliver work to stakeholders, it should be done during a presentation meeting. For a typical new client site build, the meetings would look something like:
- As a new becomes imminent, Sales should find the ideal Strategist to pair with the client, based on availability and skillset.Diagnostic Process
- The Strategist is responsible for running the diagnostic with the help of the PM for logistical support, and the help of Sales when relevant.
- When the Diagnostic is complete and we have a signed SOW for the next phase, the PM should set up an internal project kickoff with the full anticipated staff for the project (including people whose role may take a while to kick in, like QA people). The team should leave this meeting feeling fully informed and ready to take on the project.
- The PM should also set up a kickoff meeting with the Client and Strategist along with key internal team members. Some team members don’t need to attend unless they would like. For example, it may not be necessary to involve QA in this meeting, unless the client is going to end up interacting with them frequently, but some QA engineers may prefer to be involved in this meeting. As the PM, make the best decision you can, and feel free to ask people for their input if you are unsure.
- After the strategist has determined the plan for the project, the PM should set up reviews associated with the deliverables. For each key project deliverable, the PM should set up both an internal review and an external review.
- The internal review is the “Dry Run” during which the staff responsible for completing the design or development work showcase it to the Strategist for review. For larger projects, we should also bring in the original sales team member who completed the sale/diagnostic to act as a stand-in for the client. In some cases it may make sense to present to the too. Based on the internal feedback, the team members then revise the work prior to showing it to the client. This “Dry Run” should happen at least two days prior to the actual client meeting being practiced for.Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
- The external review is where we show the work to the client. The PM should set the stage and keep notes. The Creative/Tech Lead and their team are then responsible for guiding the client through the work. The PM should then provide the client the opportunity to provide feedback on the call and/or by email. The PM is responsible for translating this feedback into actionable Todos for the team.
- When a site is QAed and ready to launch, the PM should set up a final walkthrough call with the client to ensure we have their blessing to launch, and a launch-day call in which many project team members are present to deploy the site to production.
The ideal meeting schedule will vary greatly based on the project itself. When in doubt, PMs should ask the team and client for their opinion on how many meetings are necessary or helpful. PMs must always consider the budget impact of meetings. Especially when multiple Cantilever team members are involved, meetings are costly. Never take an hour when 30 minutes will do, and if a meeting can be replaced with an email or Loom video, do it.
Ongoing projects should have periodic check-in meetings. In an ongoing relationship we will have a backlog of work from which the stakeholders help to choose specific items for us to focus on each month or quarter. A regular checkin is a great opportunity to review that list with the client and discuss new items to add to the backlog as well. This kind of meeting is billable and well worth the time from the client’s perspective.
Additionally, Strategists should try to have a big-picture call with clients about once a year to check in on their business at large and get their feedback on our work with them.
Most meetings are billable to the client. Meetings which focus on the nature of the business relationship between Cantilever and the client are not. These are considered “Account Management.” As an example, discussing a separate new project is not billable. Once that project has started and we are discussing it, that’s billable. If a meeting touches on both topics, split your timesheet entry to fairly reflect the nature of the discussion.