When software engineers are attending too many meetings, they become overwhelmed and disengaged. If these frequent meetings are not being run effectively, the effect on team morale becomes even worse. It’s important that the engineering team have regularly scheduled meetings, but it’s also important that these meetings are completely necessary, provide value, and benefit the entire team.
Whether the goal of the meeting focuses on decision-making, brainstorming, planning, giving and receiving feedback, or simply getting updates from your staff, well-defined and thought-through meetings can make software engineering teams more efficient. While you don’t need to regularly schedule all of the meetings listed in this article, you do need to ensure that these meetings are all being conducted from time to time so the software engineering team is confident that it’s building the right thing at the right time to ensure the success of your projects. You’ll also find some free templates that will help you and your team run these important meetings smoothly.
7 must-have software engineering meetings
- Daily standups
- One-on-one meetings
- Brainstorming meetings
- Sprint planning meetings
- Weekly priority meetings
- Backlog grooming meetings
Daily standups, unsurprisingly, happen daily. Their purpose is to raise any challenges or roadblocks that the team is facing and allow some time for planning. Daily standup meetings are not for solving problems so much as they are for identifying the problems. Also, it’s crucial to hold your appointment at a time that works for everyone on the team and allows them to tune in virtually if they want. Your entire team needs to show up to and leave a daily standup together. Daily standups are both a teamwork exercise and a daily update, and leaders should treat these meetings as such. Ensure that you announce that only one person should speak at a time, and share concise updates to keep the meeting on track while providing beneficial guidance and current information on what is being built and what the progress looks like.
Every person on the software engineering team should have scheduled one-on-one meetings with their manager or the individual to whom they report. The principal purpose of the one-on-one meeting is for staff to have private time with their manager to talk about any problems they’re having, goals they would like to set, their career progress, and anything else that may be on their minds. The software engineer who is meeting with their manager should take care to create a meeting agenda ahead of time and share it with their manager. As a manager, you should use one-on-one meetings with your engineers and developers as a way to prompt questions that collect their opinions on various aspects of the business and to give feedback on their performances.
Project review meetings, also known as retrospectives, are all about reflecting on tasks or projects that have been completed, while sharing feedback and having discussions. During retrospectives, team members assigned to a specific project get together and discuss the task, which includes reflecting on what went well and what could have been done differently. Project review meetings should include management, owners (if deemed necessary), clients (on occasion), team leaders, and any team members that had a hand in the project execution. Walking into this meeting prepared will provide the best outcome for all in attendance. Proper retrospectives can fuel a company’s progress because these meetings work out the kinks and establish reasons for past drawbacks and hiccups so the organization can avoid repeating these issues moving forward.
Brainstorming meetings take place when employees come together to discuss, come up with, explain, or map out ideas to solve a problem or challenge they’re facing, or to come up with something new. Brainstorming meetings are typically called for one purpose: to generate new and exciting ideas within the software engineering team. These meetings are valuable because they generate participation from all developers or software engineers in discussing valuable ideas to innovate, improve, and work towards exciting goals. While these meetings only tend to be held once in a while in a software developer environment, the creativity that brainstorming meetings generate is extremely valuable to the organization.
5Sprint planning meetings
A sprint planning meeting allows you and your team to host and partake in a collaborative discussion that allows the scrum team to choose the direction for the next sprint. You can begin this meeting by giving a general overview or any news for the week ahead, then discuss any work that is in progress, then discuss inbox processing. This process helps you and your teammates choose exactly what is going to be worked on, on a weekly basis. In these meetings, you can expect team members to accept work and go over their product backlogs, employees to gain some business context from their manager, and everyone to collaborate and agree on goals for that particular interval.
6Weekly priority meetings
Setting a weekly priority meeting can be extremely valuable for the software development team. This type of meeting also works really well with your sprint meetings. The purpose of this meeting is to look at your responsibilities and priorities for the team on a long-term basis and ensure that the next sprint lines up with the requirements of the team to be successful. If this isn’t the case, this meeting is a good opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to ensure the team’s success. Any team leaders or management are key attendees for this meeting, especially in a context where team goals have changed or evolved.
7Backlog grooming meetings
Backlog grooming meetings are a recurring event for agile product development teams. Having backlog grooming meetings is essential if you want to improve both the speed and efficiency of projects to deploy, reduce scope creep, and increase the development team’s understanding of project deliverables. Backlog grooming takes place in a regular session where backlog items are reviewed, discussed, and then prioritized by the product owner, the project manager, and any other team member involved. This backlog includes the full set of user stories that aren’t in the current sprint and defines the remainder of the project’s scope. The goal of a backlog grooming session is to keep the team’s backlog up to date and make sure that backlog items are prepared for sprints or for sprint planning.
Software engineering meeting best practices
- Use a meeting agenda
- Take meeting notes
- Have a clear meeting purpose
- Invite only those who need to be there
- Assign action items
- Send a meeting follow-up email
1Use a meeting agenda
First and foremost, don’t hold a meeting without preparing and sharing a meeting agenda before the meeting–if you don’t have a meeting agenda ready ahead of time, it’s a waste of everyone’s time, energy, and focus. Using a meeting agenda helps you identify and communicate the purpose of the meeting, empowers the team to collaborate and contribute to talking points, allows you to stay on track and avoid distractions, creates a single source of truth for decisions, and clarifies any expectations or responsibilities that are essential for the meeting’s success.
2Take meeting notes
Ensure that at least one person is taking meeting notes, if you’re not asking the whole team to make notes for themselves from each meeting. Opting out of taking meeting notes is harmful to employee productivity because it makes it extremely difficult to recall important details. If employees can’t recall significant takeaways from meetings, they won’t take action and, therefore will lack the ability to execute tasks that bring the team closer to achieving its goals. Meeting notes are important because they allow you to refer back to a document to remind yourself of important deadlines, decisions, or topics that you’d like to speak to at the next meeting, and if someone has missed the meeting, you now have the ability to share your notes and get them up to speed.
3Have a clear meeting purpose
Having a clear meeting purpose is essential for running any kind of meeting. Creating a meeting purpose statement can help you clearly explain to the rest of the team why you’re running a particular meeting. Having a clear meeting purpose statement helps you and your team focus on your goal and can help you plan for your meeting ahead of time. A clear meeting purpose also helps ensure that your meeting materials—like your meeting agenda, presentation, and team-building activities—all work to serve your meeting goals. After you move past planning and get the team together, your purpose statement will remind everyone what you all need to accomplish during the meeting.
Noran Azmy, software engineer at Google, further highlights the importance of having a clear meeting purpose, explaining:
“As the owner of the meeting, it’s your responsibility to decide if it is necessary in the first place. This is especially true for recurring meetings. If you run a meeting that happens, say, every week, then take the time beforehand to assess whether there is enough to discuss for the current week, or whether you should cancel. Reach out to other participants via chat or email and see what they think.”
4Invite only those who need to be there
Avoid inviting any people to your meeting who don’t need to be there—doing so is a waste of time and energy. Anyone who is directly involved in or impacted by the outcome of the meeting should be involved in the meeting. Where there isn’t direct involvement, you can share the meeting notes to anyone who may be interested in staying up to date with the challenges and the progress that is being made in the team. Ensure that you are actively thinking about who the meeting affects directly; anyone outside of that scope does not need to be in attendance.
5Assign action items
Effective meetings rely on well-executed action items. To make your meeting worth the time and energy you have invested into it, your team members need to leave with a clear understanding of what they need to accomplish to help work towards the larger goals that require a collective effort. Action items keep you and your team organized by creating a sequence of which tasks need to be completed by which deadlines so your projects can move forwards and you can continue to add puzzle pieces to your team goals. These meeting tasks also hold you and your team members accountable, since your teammates are relying on you to deliver on your responsibilities so they can be effective in completing their assigned tasks on time.
6Send a meeting follow-up email
Sending a meeting follow-up email is another effective best practice for software engineers. It is important to follow up after a meeting for many reasons. Showing appreciation for your meeting attendees by sending a meeting follow-up email will foster a positive environment and relationship. Furthermore, the last thing that your attendees will remember is the last thing they see, so sending a follow-up email will help remind your attendees of the key points discussed during the meeting.
There are many meetings that will help a software engineering team operate more productively and achieve their goals more successfully. In this article, you have read about the software engineering meetings you actually need to focus on running with your team to yield your desired outcomes. Be sure to try out the free templates provided in this article so you can see what works well with your team and perhaps even adopt a new habit of running a regular meeting with your software engineering team. It’s always a pleasure to see you on the Fellow blog. We’ll see you again soon!