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we are into Agile project development. Our onsite PM wants us to attend every possible meeting happening for everybody in the whole team. This consumes daily 5 hours on average. I dont want to make onsite PM feel bad about my suggestion that I want to cut down on meetings, atleast for developers. Is there anyway I can put my point across about reducing the meeting timings/better management to onsite PM without hurting her ego? I am an offshore PM.

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    Please enlighten us what is the purpose of those meetings? 5 hours per day seems a bit much. I know some culture like to talk a lot, but this is extreme. I always vote to timebox meetings and stop meetings when there is no agenda, to prevent endless talking about non important topics. – Niels van Reijmersdal Dec 30 '14 at 15:51
  • This includes clarification of requirements, status updates on inprogress items(multiple times) or just be there to get more information on any available topics, Even if you are not involved with that topic in particular. – SP99 Dec 30 '14 at 15:53
  • How in the world can anyone get ANYTHING done meeting five hours a day? – crh225 Dec 30 '14 at 16:39
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    Do you mean 5 hours in total, accumulated across all of the team members, or 5 hours duration of meetings (which would be, for example, 25 hours of time for a team of 5 people)? – Iain9688 Dec 30 '14 at 17:30
  • meetings are evil, in agile projects, see: yegor256.com/2015/07/13/meetings-are-legalized-robbery.html – yegor256 Jul 14 '15 at 22:54
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Too many meetings is a symptom - of lack of confidence

Too many meetings is a symptom, not the disease. Looks like the Scrum Master (or PM) does not have confidence in the dev team's ability to deliver at the end of the Sprint. Based on my experience working with multiple offshore teams, here is what the dev team can do to give them this confidence:

Requirements:

  1. Ask for all requirements clarifications at the time of the Sprint Planning meeting. And write them down as Acceptance Criteria in the story. This will make sure that the Dev team is on the same page as the Product Owner.
  2. If requirements are not clear or complete, refuse to take that story into that sprint.
  3. If as an exception, one or two clarifications are promised in a day or two after the sprint starts, keep reporting that as an impediment in every Scrum call.

Sprint workload: One of the main reasons why Scrum Masters (or PMs) keep asking for status is because some dev teams make a habit of leaving stories incomplete at the end of the sprint and offering various excuses.

  1. Commit to only stories that you are very confident of completing within the Sprint.
  2. Once committed, the Scrum Master should be able to have confidence that the dev team will make every effort to complete them.

Status reporting:

  1. Ask the dev team to update status of stories, at the least, every day prior to the Scrum call. How many hours of work is remaining to complete each task should be readily visible.

Once you develop a track record of delivering on your promises, the need for meetings will go down drastically. If not, you can confidently ask to cut down on them.

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Agile-scrum? XP? Kanban? If you are using a particular methodology you may want to first focus in on which meetings (if any) are proscribed by the specific methodology and point out whether or not her meetings fall within the methodology.

It's always best if recommendations come from a number of people on the team or if you have quantitative information to back up your request. "I feel we have too many/too long meetings" isn't that compelling and can make it feel personal. You are trying to influence a peer.

Instead approach it more impartially. Something like, "Dear PM, x of y members of the team have stated that meetings take up too much time. I'd like to discuss the validity of their concerns. Why are we having so many meetings? Are there other ways we could achieve the desired outcomes of all these meetings? Why do we invite everyone to every meeting?" Could be a more effective foray into starting a productive conversation about the problem.

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In my current environment, people usually tend to have lots of meetings, to the point that, during a meeting, a discussion is opened and "ok, let's schedule a meeting to discuss this". Come on, we are already in a meeting, for Saturn's sake.

As a PM, I started to ringfence my team from attending meetings whenever possible (and logical). The rationale was fairly simple - and might work for you as well: Every meeting's attendee should answer a simple question:

What's the value this meeting has added to my current work?

Depending on the project phase, meetings are a must because requirements are unknown. These meetings are needed (assuming there's no other way to clarify requirements), so we just go ahead with them... as they clearly add value.

On the other hand, having a 1h meeting with 10+ people for status reporting is obviously a waste of resource.

With that in mind, you can

  1. assess if the meetings are required / useful / valuable and then, based on the results of this assessment,
  2. you'll be able to approach your PM with evidences (instead of feelings).

In your quesiton it's not clear (for me) if the dev team is also offshore with you (I'd assume so). Assuming that's being true, your onshore PM is probably trying to have more visibility on overall progress. If that's the case, instead of entering into task-detail meetings with PMs and dev team, you should be gathering status with dev team and then reporting back to the onshore PM. As long as the communication is clear and objective, your PM will be comfortable with your status, releasing dev team to actual work.

Success!

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