Be efficient with project meetings.

The nature of an IT pharmacist’s job involves being part of a lot of projects, teams, committees, etc. The reason is obvious. Technology used to improve medication distribution and administration is an essential component of any medication safety plan.

I attend meetings for several key hospital systems, including:

-    Alaris Smart Pumps,
-    Pharmacy system (upgrade, maintenance, integration)
-    Nursing system integration
-    Bedside barcode scanning implementation and integration
-    Pyxis (integration and maintenance)
-    Pharmacy barcoding (integration and maintenance)
-    Pharmacy automation (integration and maintenance)
-    Pharmacy intranet site
-    Rules formulation
-    Database design and maintenance
-    Report design and automation
-    So on and so forth

Unfortunately all this generates way too many meetings. I always do my best to make a meeting because I assume what you have to say is important. Otherwise you wouldn’t have called the meeting.

Here are my recommendations for not wasting your meeting time:

  1. Invite the key players. If someone doesn’t have to be there, don’t invite them. Simple.
  2. If someone has a small piece to contribute, let them go first so they can move on.
  3. Don’t hold meetings to determine the best time to meet. I don’t even know if this makes sense, but I’ve been to several. Good luck trying to accommodate everyone. If you’re in charge of the project, pick a time and let everyone know when to be there. If someone can’t make it they will let you know. If it is essential that someone be there, make arrangements. If not, have them catch up later by reading the minutes.
  4. Speaking of minutes. Type them up and email them to everyone immediately. Getting minutes from a meeting two weeks after is never helpful. I like to review the minutes and make sure I haven’t missed anything important or worse realize I have something assigned to me I didn’t know about.
  5. Don’t meet too often. Schedule meetings to solve problems and update the team. If you have nothing to report, don’t schedule a meeting.
  6. Don’t make goals that you can’t keep. If you keep pushing back timelines and deadlines, you’re either being too aggressive or you’ve got dead weight on the team. Neither is a good thing.
  7. Identify problems, assign people to deal with them, and hold those people accountable. There is nothing worse than spending two weeks on something and then finding out at a meeting that you can’t move on because someone else didn’t do their job.
  8. Keep the meeting on track. I think it’s great that you got a new puppy (I really do), but tell me about it later. More work time at work equals less work time for me at home.
  9. Discussion and debate are good. Arguing is not. Keep a cool head. Your idea may be great, but may not work in this particular instance.
  10. Compromise is great, but not at the expense of the project. That’s what the project lead is for. Make a decision that’s best, not what makes everyone happy.
  11. If the group has to make an important decision about something, don’t ask forty people to come to the meeting and give their opinion. It’s up to leadership to make a rational judgment and narrow the decisions down to a few key options. I believe in input from end users, clinicians, etc. However, if you ask forty people their opinion, you’ll get twenty different responses. Then what?
  12. Don’t continually cancel or reschedule meetings. Everyone’s time is valuable. If you have to cancel every other meeting, you’re probably meeting twice as often as you should.
  13. Put your cell phone on vibrate or silent. If it’s a true emergency take the call outside the meeting room. I understand. I’m on-call every other week, 24-7. If I get a call and a system is down I have to deal with it. My wife telling me to pick up dinner on the way home could probably wait (maybe).
  14. Is texting acceptable? I don’t have a firm opinion on this yet. A year ago I would have said texting is unacceptable at meetings, but now I find texting to be a valuable tool for communicating with colleagues around the hospital. It’s quick and quiet. I suppose it can be distracting. For me the jury is still out.
  15. Finally, keep the meetings short. Anything over an hour is just too long. Get to the point, make a decision, and move on.

5 thoughts on “Be efficient with project meetings.”

  1. Meetings are always “interesting”. My brother has used Scrum for software development. He speaks highly of the process. Your continually moving from one small milestone to another. You have a daily “stand-up” meeting to make sure everyone is on track. The stand-up is appropriately titled because no one is allowed to sit down. I’ll give it a try if I ever get the chance to head up a project.

  2. Using a reliable web conferencing tool that has the ability to record meetings would probably prove helpful as well. This co. Rhub has some great web conference products. Check it out if your interested.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.