Holding requirement specification reviews is an activity that is critical to ensuring the quality of your deliverables. Review meetings aren’t typically “fun”, but they can be run smoothly and efficiently. They can also be excruciating if the the organizer and/or the attendees are not sufficiently prepared ahead of time.

I plan to post a few things over the next few days that I have found work well for me in terms of preparing for formal review of a deliverable. Some of them may seem obvious, but it is astounding how many people – even among the executive rung – that just don’t prepare adequately for meetings.

This first installment will cover prep-work that should be done within at least 3-5 days of the review meeting.

  • Provide reviewers adequate time to review materials prior to the meeting.

gfatherclock.jpgRemember that members of the project team have as much going on as you do, and their time is at a premium. In my shop we allow, as a rule, 3 full business days between the time we initially distribute a first-draft document and the time of the review. Obviously, the amount of time will differ from shop to shop based on a number of factors, but the principle in play is simply to provide ample lead time.

There is nothing that will take the wind out of your sails faster than finding out that attendees’ first glances at the document will be in the review meeting. Providing sufficient time beforehand is no guarantee that folks will all have scoured the document from top to bottom, but it certainly takes away the “but you didn’t give me enough time” excuse and puts accountability squarely on the reviewer.

  • In your meeting invitation, provide a high-level meeting agenda.

It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed, but it should be sufficient to let folks know what will be covered and in what

planner.jpg order. Let them know what the goal of the meeting is. Is it a formal review for sign-off? Is it a requirements review/working session?

Let invitees know your expectations of them as meeting participants. For example, let them know that prior to the meeting they should have read the document and come to the meeting prepared to discuss questions, comments, or corrections they may have.

  • Make any necessary room or equipment reservations.

If you need to reserve a conference room or audiovisual equipment, make sure you make the reservations well in advance. If you have to have meal or snack catering, take care of it in advance. It reflects very poorly on the Business Analyst who procrastinates only to find out at the last minute that there are no rooms available, or that necessary equipment is unavailable.

  • Request that invitees notify you if they will be unavailable to meet at the scheduled time.

If they are not, they should send a designate. If there are a number of key participants that are unavailable, it may make better sense to reschedule.

Readers, I’ll open this up to you, now. What other things need to be arranged 3 or more days out from a review meeting?

I’ll post soon on meeting prep items that need to be handled the day of the meeting, and tips on conducting a review meeting that help make the experience as positive and professional as possible.