Article #234 The Need for Lean Meetings in Engineering and Construction Projects

The Corona Virus, or COVID-19, has proven that online meetings can perfectly replace the very costly and less efficient meetings that requires the physical presence of those invited to attend the meeting. In the engineering and construction projects, periodical meetings are one of the most-costly project management events that occurs during the project life cycle phases. The hourly cost of the different project team members attending the meeting, meeting venue, travel and lodging of those who need to join from abroad, food and beverage served during and after the meeting is concluded along with the cost of team members hours wasted in travelling and local transportation can all sum to be of great significance to the project cost.

Online meetings can be held using applications like those of Cisco Webex, Microsoft Team, Zoom among many others. Nevertheless, there is still the requirement that meeting minutes get captured, documented and shared with all participants to be reviewed and approved before it is formally transmitted. Those meeting minutes will detail in addition to the list of those who have attended the meeting, all business items discussed during the meeting. To ensure that the captured business items reflect what actually been discussed and agreed on during the meeting, the meeting minutes need to be readily available as soon as the meeting is concluded so it can be reviewed and signed by all participants before they leave the meeting room.

Using a Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb, organizations involved in delivering engineering and construction projects will have a single web-enabled platform to capture the details of all meetings held during the project life cycle phases. Those could include design review meeting, value engineering workshops, pre-bid meeting, tender opening meetings, kick-off meeting, progress meetings, technical meetings, contractor meetings, QA/QC meetings, HSE meetings, change management meetings, steering committee meetings, BIM coordination meetings, risk management meetings, interface management meetings, project handover meetings among others. The frequency of those meetings could vary as some could be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or when needed.

There is no limit to the number of meeting meetings that can be captured in PMWeb nor to the number of projects that those meetings are part of. For each meeting, PMWeb allows capturing the details of the meeting such as subject, venue, date, start and end time, WBS level, those invited to attend the meeting and those who have actually attended the meeting among others. For each business item that are part of a meeting, there will be a clear scope and description of issue and action needed, project team member or members assigned to take the action, due date for the action, project schedule activity that could be delayed if the action is not completed as agreed on, actual completion date plus any additional attributes and notes that are needed to better manage, monitor, track and report on those business items. In addition, PMWeb allows attaching all supportive document to each business item. Those could include drawings, pictures, tables among others.

In addition, PMWeb allows attaching all supportive documents for each meeting minute. Those documents are usually uploaded into PMWeb Document Management repository under the folder specific for each process. Those documents could include in addition to drawings, pictures, tables among others the video recording of the online meeting. In addition, links to other relevant PMWeb records and imported MS Outlook emails can be also added. This will ensure complete transparency into the content of each formal project communication.

A workflow will be assigned to the Meeting Minute to ensure that responsibility for submitting, reviewing and approving the meeting minute is formally implemented. The workflow will identify all needed steps, the duration for each step, responsibility for each step, actions that can be taken for each step and sequence for performing those steps. PMWeb also allows adding conditions to the workflow steps to incorporate the approval authority levels.

PMWeb also allows generating the follow-on meeting agenda from the previous meeting to ensure that all closed items are removed and on-going items get captured in the next meeting. This will enable the project team to keep track of the history of all business items and when those items were closed.

The final meeting minutes will be formally communicated to all those who have attended the meeting as well as those who need to be made aware of what was discussed using PMWeb Transmittal module. PMWeb report writer will be used to design the meeting minutes form layout or just use PMWeb out-of-the-box meeting minutes template. The form can be printed or saved as PDF file that can be digitally signed so it can be transmitted to all the intended recipients. Those output meeting minutes can be designed in an intelligent format to provide the reader who have the right access rights the option to drilldown to the meeting minutes item captured in PMWeb to review all attached documents and linked records to that particular meeting minute business item.

PMWeb report writer allows creating reports to track the status of the different business items discussed and recorded in the meeting minutes. For example, a report can be created to capture the history of each business item, when it was first recorded and when it was closed. The report could include filters to limit the reported data to a specific individual for which the business items were assigned to. The report could be limited to single type of meeting minutes for a single project or portfolio of projects or for all meeting types across a single project or portfolio of projects.

It is also possible to generate reminder letters or dunning letters addressed to the project team member by name, listing all due business items assigned to this project team member. Issuing such letters could drive those team members to respond and close pending meeting business items to avoid delaying the associated project schedule activities.


About the Authorfounder

Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value in excess of US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training and business development.

Bassam is a frequent speaker in topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP) and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).

Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA and London Business School, London, UK.


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