How do you account for meetings in the budget?

Meetings are critical to the success of a project.  Yet, most project managers account for neither the time nor cost to conduct them.

SO – if the definition of a failed project is “failure to deliver the agreed upon scope for the approved budget and schedule”, then meetings will unnecessarily cause failure.

A foreign, but accurate concept – Status Meetings ARE NOT OVERHEAD!  They are productive and necessary.

There are two primary types of meetings.  Here is a description of how they should be accounted for:

Status meetings:

  1. How often are team meetings planned per week
  2. How many individuals will be on those teams (from the staffing plan)
  3. What labor rate (or rates) they will cost
  4. How long meetings are expected to take

Meetings Related directly to the project – such as design meetings:

  1. How many of these are needed – and what activity or work package they relate to
  2. How many people will be needed
  3. What labor rate (or rates) they will cost
  4. How long the meetings should last

How to handle these types of meetings in the budget and schedule:

  1. Status Meetings

Budget:   Use the following formula and add it as a direct line into the budget.

Formula:   Meetings Per Week * Number of Attendees * Hourly Rate * Hours (or percentage of hours) Per Meeting * Number of Weeks in the Critical Path

Schedule:  Reserve the time necessary for Status Meetings weekly on the Gantt Chart.  This time is unavailable for working on activities and work packages.

KEY:  Assure the time for the meetings is addressed in the Network Diagram so the meetings do not negatively impact the Critical Path without your knowledge.

  1. Meetings Related directly to the project – such as design meetings:

Budget: Build these directly into the WBS where necessary and estimate their cost as:

Formula:  Meeting Length in Hours * Number of Attendees * Hourly Rate

Schedule:    These meetings should be scheduled just as every other activity or work package is scheduled that are defined in the WBS.

It is amazing that meetings are generally not accounted for at all by project managers.  PMBOK does not define how to account for them.  Should these directions be followed, meetings should stop causing project failure.