Worst meeting ever!

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Danbone
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Ok so 7 months in my position now and you guys on here have helped me a lot because i have found the job to be a challenge! So I had a meeting today was only told sort notice it was on a subject i have not dealt with before. I was only told of the meeting an hour before it happened and i couldn't answer a single question they had for me! and ones i tried to answer were wrong! I've come out feeling like a total brat! luckily an engineer for our project turned up half way through and saved the day but my embarrassment is still there!

My understanding was that i was there to oversee a fair decision be made not technical information. As part of the project team should we be expected to know this stuff? or were they expecting to be talking to an engineer?

Thanks
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begeland
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If you were the only one representing your project and it ended up a being a very technical discussion, then they were wrong to put you in that situation. While a project manager should have good general knowledge of the technical solution, really understanding the technical details is outside of the PM job role. On a project of any size - and if you're potentially working on more than one project - you will never be able to get down to that level of detail nor should you be expected to. I would have felt embarrassed in that situation as well because I, too, would have been left not knowing many of the answers.

I realize you had basically no time to prep for this meeting and had a different understanding of it's goal than what actually transpired, it would be best to always take the BA or tech lead or someone technical to a meeting like that - especially if you are uncertain of the discussion topic. Better to overcompensate than undercompensate. But you were placed in a bad situation and, in my opinion, it's not your fault and beyond normal expectations for you to be the lone tech spokesperson for your project in a meeting like that.
Brad
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kwalford
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I occasionally have this problem too, but not to that degree.

I am in a technical projects role (my company provider WAN's and other IT services) and I get asked technical questions all the time. My advice in dealing with technical questions which you cannot answer with confidence is below:

1) Advise the other party that you are not technical and are in fact in a projects role. With this in mind, you are not suitable to answer a technical query.

2) Accurately record the other parties question, and find out as much info on the query by asking your own questions, and then advise them that you will ask a technical person to answer the question, and that you will come back to them with an answer.

3) If you are unsure on the answer to the question, do not rush in trying to answer the question under pressure in a meeting. Say you are unsure on the answer and need time to provide them with a accurate answer.

The worst thing to do is try to answer the question when you are not 100% confident on the answer. No one reasonable will be annoyed that you have not answered the question and most people will appreciate that you have recorded the question and you are getting someone technically capable to answer it.

As a PM you should try to record the technical query and get a full understanding of the question at hand and then allow some technical to answer it. Make it clear that you will get back to the other party with an answer soon and that answering the query falls into the remit of a technical role, not a PM role.

Now my hand hurts from typing.... :)
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