How to Run a Planning Meeting (Checklist Included)

How to run a board meeting: a checklist

What Is the Daily Scrum Meeting?

The daily scrum meeting is one of the five types of scrum ceremonies. The daily standup scrum meeting is where the scrum team meets typically in the morning to discuss the work ahead for the day. They are short, standup meetings, strictly timed for no more than 15 minutes. This is done to keep the meeting brief but focused on only relevant information. Also, the other scrum ceremonies or agile events are meant to cover all the topics that the team can’t discuss during the daily standup meeting.

Everyone from the scrum master, who is the expert, to the team members must attend the daily scrum meeting. They are all committed and expected to participate. Others, such as sales or people from other projects, can attend but only to listen. To keep track of these meetings, scrum masters and managers use project management software, also referred to as scrum software.

After the daily scrum meeting, teams can use project management software to execute their sprints. ProjectManager is cloud-based software that connects scrum teams and fosters the collaboration they need to get their work done. Our kanban boards allow them to manage their backlog and plan sprints together, while the product owner has transparency into their process so they can reallocate resources as needed to avoid bottlenecks.

What Is the Purpose of a Planning Meeting?

The obvious reason to have a planning meeting is to create a plan and get buy-in from the team. It’s the first step in developing a plan and requires that certain questions be answered, such as how do we achieve this goal? What do we know already about it? Who is going to be responsible for what?

When the planning meeting is complete, there should be a few deliverables, such as a rough outline of the plan that has been quickly sketched after answering the questions above. There must also be some clarity about who is going to be doing what in the project.

It doesn’t hurt if you can begin to identify dependencies, what resources you’ll need and which you don’t already have. Plus, you’ll have questions that need answering or require further investigation and research.

A general understanding of what the plan’s scope is should also be established. Everybody present should have a good idea of the plan. Get feedback to make sure those parameters were clear in the planning meeting and, if they’re not, encourage questions from the group until they are. This includes how individuals will coordinate with others on the team.

Key Elements of a Planning Meeting

A planning meeting is only as good as its parts. Those parts are what you have to prepare before even calling the meeting. You want to have all your ducks in a row, so to speak, so that the meeting goes off without a hitch and the plan and team responsibilities are well-outlined. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you’ve addressed each of the items below.

Vision, Goals & Objectives

Before you can have a plan, you must have a target. In other words, what are the goals and objectives you want to achieve. To figure that out requires asking yourself simple but important questions, such as what are you trying to do and what problems are you trying to solve?

Answering these questions will define the vision, which is an important lodestar to follow when implementing the plan. This will also give stakeholders and team members a ramp to onboard to the project. This leads to creating a business case, aligning the project to the organization’s overall business objectives and identifying the project’s benefits.

Critical Success Factors

According to D. Ronald Daniel, who first developed the concept, it’s “the limited number of areas in which results, if they are satisfactory, will ensure successful competitive performance for the organization. They are the few key areas where things must go right for the business to flourish. If results in these areas are not adequate, the organization’s efforts for the period will be less than desired.”

In other words, what are the things you can’t fail at doing. These basic components of your plan must be defined and clear to all. These include the deliverable for the project, an agreed upon budget and schedule, etc.

Having critical success factors in place means that you can prioritize not only the planning process but the project execution. You’ll know who the leaders are, where to put your resources and how to adjust your plan to make sure those critical success factors are always safeguarded.

Key Performance Indicators

A key performance indicator or KPI is something that is of a measurable value. It shows how effective a project is working towards meeting its key business objectives. It’s a way to evaluate success, but in order to do that you first must determine what the KPIs are for the project.

Therefore, the planning meeting must address the project KPIs and, more specifically, what everyone on the project team is responsible for doing in order to achieve those KPIs. Without setting a target to hit and explaining that to the team, as well as their part in reaching that target, the project is less likely to succeed. This is why it is an essential part of the planning meeting.

Key Issues

Then there are the key issues: the things most pressing that must be immediately addressed. Before moving forward with the project or even the planning, there are likely obstacles that must be cleared. This is the time in which they are identified, and a decision is made regarding the resolution and who will lead that charge.

Hitting these points will provide a basic outline for a one-day planning meeting. Of course, you can and might need to have more time devoted to the planning, but that will depend more on the size of your team than the project. Regardless of how big or small your team is, in order to make the planning meeting more productive you’ll want to include them prior to meeting and get their ideas and comments.

Step 5: prepare for meetings effectively

Ask directors about what gets in the way of a well-run board meeting, and next to an ineffective chair, the most common complaint is hard to access board materials that make meeting prep inconvenient or frustrating.

Good board meetings require timely distribution of board materials and clear communication of the board meeting agenda at least 4 days in advance of meetings, and ideally with a week’s lead time. For many organizations, making that happen requires board governance teams and management to spend weeks preparing. And competing priorities can lead to late delivery of the board package or last minute updates that can cause confusion. Not only are directors frustrated, executives and governance administrative teams are distracted from having time to calmly prepare for strategic discussions and decisions as well.

What makes for a better board meeting?

  1. Accessible, online board materials – make all board materials easy to view, search, and add notes to with a board portal. Log in to see complete information, including the latest versions of materials with no confusion around updates. Travelling? No problem. Board materials can be accessed through mobile devices, both online and offline.
  2. Electronic agendas with links to key background info – take the time to consider which strategic topics are right year round, then pre-save strong agendas in the portal – so no matter how hectic it gets, you avoid the risk of re-using last month’s agenda. Link right from the agenda topics to materials for review, and make it easy for directors to foresee meeting dates on the calendar. If a meeting date is moved, directors are instantly updated.
  3. Easy between-meeting collaboration – invite directors to share their questions or comments with their fellow board members. Encourage pre-meeting discussion with the chair or peer directors to ensure everyone has background questions answered to focus meeting time on discussion and decisions.
  4. Efficient onboarding of new board members – new directors are a welcome fresh perspective and energy boost to a board. They can be valuable contributors as soon as they have base education on the organization and the industry – so do that effectively and quickly with online learning tools, including a library of archived board reports and minutes.

Board portal software provides a way for boards to save time preparing for meetings, safeguards the cybersecurity of board materials, and helps to best engage board members from onboarding, through to convenient meeting preparation, online discussions, and voting.

For board administrators, board portal software streamlines the processes for assembling and distributing board books and finalizing a strong agenda with automation tools that make repeat work time efficient. With the time savings of a board portal, board governance teams are able to more consistently distribute meeting materials early, giving directors adequate time to prepare. Board portal software also streamlines the process for writing board minutes with a minutes-builder tool that mirrors your agenda, and makes for expedient distribution of minutes after the board meeting.

For board members, a secure board management system, such as the Aprio board portal , provides a convenient, one-stop location online to access board materials, annotate documents to prepare for productive conversation on core challenges at the meeting, and pose questions or table additional topics to the board chair or other directors. For orientation and ongoing learning, the board portal also provides a searchable library of board bylaws, strategic and financial plans, and archived board materials. Finally, board directors can log into the portal at any time and from any location including via mobile device.

Improve meeting prep

We’re all busy people. Directors are often travelling, and may sit on multiple boards or have other jobs. Board admins are also busy people with demanding schedules. Why should anyone need to spend countless hours trying to make sure everyone has access to the latest board materials when it could be as simple as clicking a button?

Directors will no longer need to carry around a highlighter and pen to take notes on paper board materials. They’ll be able to add their annotations directly to digital documents, even while they’re offline. If needed, they can also share their notes with other board members.

Admins can also add links to agendas, allowing directors to quickly and easily access the right documents without having to search through endless files or email swirls. This allows directors to come to meetings more prepared.

Timely, inclusive access to updates

Creating a board culture of inclusion – which means same time access to same board communication – is job #1 for a board chair looking to create a board that invites every member to have an equal voice. Inviting input through voting, polls, and online discussion is a valuable way to invite every director to have their say beyond board meetings.

Additionally, when board admins have to replace a board document with a newer version, it’s no longer a hassle to update directors. Admins can upload the new version directly to Aprio, and an automatic notification alerts all directors of the update. Version confusion ceases to exist.

Improve boardroom communication and onboarding

Board portals like Aprio provide a centralized forum for board members to collaborate in real time between board meetings. With a board portal, older board materials are easily accessible and searchable in the Library. This is particularly useful for new directors during their onboarding, and is also convenient for any board member who wants to reference previous materials.


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