Monthly Archives: May 2009

Meeting Agendas – Perception of Professionalism

 I remember the first project that I managed.  It was an ERP project for a client and the existing project manager was leaving to take a position with another company.  At about 9:00 in the morning the PM said “Since I am leaving, why don’t you run the status meeting today?”  The meeting was for 10:00 and I said “sure, no problem”.  Well, the managing V.P. from my firm was in attendance that day.

 We had the usual 30 person status meeting.  I was a little nervous, but I felt the meeting went well.  After the meeting, the VP wanted to meet to go over how the meeting went and for me to get his feedback.  Well, it was a meeting I would not soon forget.  He read me the riot act!  He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I NEVER conduct a meeting without a meeting agenda.  The perception was that I, and the firm, where unprepared.  He stated that there was not the FLOW of a properly prepared meeting.

 I learned my lesson that day, and he turned out to be one of my best mentors.  He was right, of course.  The next meeting, I had the Agenda prepped days in advance and ran it by him just to make sure that it was appropriate.

  • What is an agenda?
    • It is a list is a list of the individual items that need to be discussed to achieve the meeting’s broad aims
    • Agendas may be drawn up and circulated to all participants before the meeting, or they may be agreed at the actual meeting.


  • Why is an agenda important?
    • Helps you prepare
    • Communicates expectations for the meeting
    • Provides a mechanism for order and control
      • Limits the tasks and participants
    • Helps measure success/failure of a meeting
    • Describes your objective(s) for the meeting and creates an outline of the steps to get to the goal
      • Assigns time buckets and set time limits
      • Schedules items in order of importance

 Here is the Mind Map template that I use for any meeting:


My Meeting Agenda Template

My Meeting Agenda Template

 All this will fill out a standard  Meeting Agenda template:


Meeting Agenda

Meeting Agenda

I know this may seem simplistic, but this will make your meetings more efficient and will give the attendees a feeling of confidence in the meeting organizer.  As a PM, you represent not only yourself, but also the organization.  The perception of professionalism is built at the start and it is up to you to maintain it.



Filed under PM Tips and Tricks, PM Tools, Project Management

Preparing Project Charters

I come from a consulting background where you were paid proportionately to the volume of paperwork that you produced.  Half joking aside, I have produced Project Charters that were well over 30 pages in length.  This begs the question, who truly reads them and what value does it bring to the project, team members, project sponsor and the steering committee? 

When I was the PMO Director of a Fortune 500 company, I created a template for Project Charters that would produce a 2 page document (3 pages if there were a lot of signatures).  The concept was that the document truly had to mean something to all of the people involved.  It had to lay bare the scope of the project . . .

So here is the process:

After assembling the team (and preferably the project sponsor) I would attach my computer to the projector so that all could see.  I would start up my Mind Mapping software (more on that later).   

It came down to a filling out a 6 step process template in order to create the Project Charter:


Project Charter Template

Project Charter Template


  • Step 1: Project Name
    • Process
    • Code Name
  • Step 2: Overall Understanding of the project

Instead of one overall Charter and individual Charters per phase, put all into one.

  • Define Phases
  • Define stages within Phases
  • Sub-projects
    • Define
    • Assign Leaders
    • May need separate Charter
    • Time Targets
    • Org Changes
    • Process Changes
    • Software tool
      • Define all Systems
      • Define all Vendors
    • Project Admin
    • Communication
      • Marketing of Project
    • Metrics
    • Rollout
      • By System
      • By Geography
  • Step 3: Objectives
    • Answer the WHY?
      • Understand Why the Company is doing the Project
    • Metrics
      • Measure

Measurability is a characteristic of the Objectives

  • Delta may need to be determined
  • Standardization
    • Ease of Use
    • Speed
    • Cost Reduction
      • Overhead reduction
    • Process
      • Refine answers
      • Increase productivity of operations
  • Step 4: Scope
    • Answer the WHAT?
      • Deliverables

Tie Scope to Deliverables

  • Step 5: Assumptions, Concerns and Constraints
    • Assumptions
    • Concerns
    • Constraints
  • Step 6: Stakeholders
    • Include people for political purposes
    • Program vs Project (or sub-project)
    • Customers
      • BU Manager
      • Division Presidents
    • Sponsors
      • Director
      • IT Working Council
    • Project Manager

Program Leaders

  • Could be Project Leader

May not do the Admin part

  • Project Analysts

To do the Admin part

  • Team Members
    • Own the task

 The process at first may seem hard to follow for some of the team members, but after a while, they get it and they are enthusiastic to participate.  The mind mapping software that I use is Mindjet Mindmanager .  I will provide future articles of my use of mind mapping in project management.

I take the results of what is created and produce a 2 – 3 page document.  We all agree to the Charter, because we all had a hand in its creation.  The process takes between 1 – 3 hours depending on the participative mood of the team and the level of depth of the project scope.  Then while everyone is in the room, I get all the team members signature as well as that of the project sponsor.

I would like to add the Mindmanager file *.mmap file but WordPress does not recognize this as a file for upload.  If anyone knows how I can do so, please comment on this site.   Thank you, Greg Cimmarrusti, PMP


Filed under PM Tips and Tricks, PM Tools, Project Management