Most projects involve both client-facing 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 clients, it should be done during a presentation meeting. For a typical new site build, the meetings would look something like:
- As the sale becomes imminent, the Head of Production meets with Sales to understand the project. The department head decides on a staffing plan for the project, including who will act as DRI.
- When the sale is complete and we have a signed SOW, the Head of Production sets up an internal project kickoff including Sales, the DRI, and the full anticipated staff for the project (including people whose role may take a while to kick in, like QA people). The DRI should leave this meeting feeling fully informed and ready to take on the project. After the meeting, Sales is no longer in charge.
- The DRI sets up a kickoff meeting with the Client 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 DRI, make the best decision you can, and feel free to ask people for their input if you are unsure.
- For each key project deliverable, the DRI or their Project Manager 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 DRI 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 our CEO. A good example is for a high-pressure presentation to senior leadership on the client team. 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.
- The external review is where we show the work to the client. The DRI should set the stage and keep notes, or delegate that responsibility to a PM. The Creative/Tech Lead and their team are then responsible for guiding the client through the work. The DRI would then provide the client the opportunity to provide feedback on the call and/or by email. The DRI is responsible for translating this feedback into actionable Todos for the team, but they may delegate this to their PM if any.
- When a site is QAed and ready to launch, the DRI 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, DRIs should ask the team and client for their opinion on how many meetings are necessary or helpful. The DRI and their 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.
When we have an ongoing relationship with a client, it is also helpful to conduct periodic check-in meetings. In an ongoing relationship we will have a backlog of work from which the client chooses 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, DRIs 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.