There have been moments on projects when I felt like Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. One more email with another revised agenda and the team will mutiny against the BA! Coming up with ways to fall under the established process while keeping the project team happy can sometimes be a challenge for the BA. Here’s an example.

Under the established procedure in one company I worked at, the meeting schedules were required to go out at the beginning of each project phase. The purpose was so that all stakeholders would be available for the meeting times listed in their calendars, and they could plan their days around the project. However, the process in place when I came onto the project was to have an agenda attached to each meeting invite. Again, a good idea, but one that quickly got out of hand. As discussion topics changed, agendas had to be changed. When that happened, the meeting invites had to go out again so people would get the latest agenda. It quickly overloaded people with meeting change requests. These requests happened not because the actual meeting changed, but because the embedded agenda changed. During that project, I would cringe when I had to send out a changed agenda because I knew I would face upset people standing over my cube wall.

I decided that I would take off my “that’s just the way it is hat” and put on my “BA finds a solution hat.” At the time, my company was rolling out SharePoint in a test mode and was looking for ways to make it improve processes in the organization. Like a kid with a new toy, I dove in and found calendars, lists, action items, workflows, and a whole bunch more. While the calendar function was great and it integrated with Outlook, I had a constraint that Stakeholders were not going to use a group calendar to schedule their days. They wanted the calendar invites on their Outlook calendars. Additionally, they wanted the meeting agenda in their invite so they wouldn’t have to look for it prior to the meeting, and they wanted all the meetings lined up for the next 8 weeks.

So how did I meet all the requests? I scheduled the meeting schedules, and inside every Outlook invite, I included not an attached agenda document, but a hyperlink to a SharePoint list. The Sharepoint list contained the master meeting list and agendas for all the meetings. This allowed me to change the agendas as often as needed to adjust to the flow of the project and never touch the Outlook meeting invites again (unless a meeting actually changed times or dates, which was very infrequent). Prior to the meetings, when stakeholders would access the Outlook invite and click on the link, they would see the latest agenda for the meeting. I even had the SharePoint list only display meeting agendas for meetings that were the current day or in the future, so the link would truly give them what they needed.

What are some techniques that you have used to make life easier on your project teams while still being constrained by a current process?

-Paul

 

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