BEP 314 – Project Management 5: Scrum Stand-up Meetings (2)

BEP 314 - English for Projects 4: Scrum Stand-up Meetings 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on participating in a scrum stand-up meeting.

Most people I know would agree that the best meetings are those that are short and focused. And that’s exactly how a daily scrum meeting is designed. Scrum is an approach to project management, especially in software development. Every day the scrum team has a short meeting where everyone gives an update.

In a good scrum meeting, those updates should only take 15 minutes. The scrum master keeps everyone focused. That may mean he or she sidebars any discussion that doesn’t relate to the three questions everyone should answer. And what are those three questions that you should answer in a scrum stand-up meeting?

Firstly, you should report what you have been working on. That normally means telling everyone what you accomplished the day before. Next, you’ll let everyone know what you’re going to work on next, or on the day of the meeting. Already you can notice that the meeting focuses on a limited time period.

The third question you’ll answer is whether you face any impediments. An impediment is an obstacle or challenge. Removing those impediments is the job of the scrum master, but your fellow team members may also be able to help. For that reason, you might ask for assistance during the meeting. When everyone’s finished their updates, the scrum master will close the meeting. But not before outlining sidebar topics for discussion after the meeting.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a scrum meeting at a software company. The team is working on a new piece of software for a logistics company. We’ll hear Jill, the scrum master, and Katherine, who’s giving her daily updates. We’ll also hear from Sam, who you might have heard give his own updates in our last lesson.

Listening Questions

1. What does Katherine say she will be working on today?
2. What is the first impediment Katherine reports?
3. What does Katherine want help with?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 313 – Project Management 4: Scrum Stand-up Meetings (1)

BEP 313 - English for Projects 4: Scrum Stand-up Meetings 1

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on conducting a scrum stand-up meeting in English.

Not everyone likes meetings, and for good reason. Many meetings are poorly organized and poorly run. But meetings are a necessary part of work and business, especially in project management. For this reason, it’s important that we find ways to have good meetings.

If you’ve worked in software development, especially agile environments, you’ll know about one excellent kind of meeting called a scrum or stand-up meeting. Scrum is an approach to software development that uses cross-functional teams. Each day, the team has a short stand-up meeting where people update others on progress, plans, and challenges.

Whether or not you work in software development, leading a scrum style meeting is a useful experience. You’ll have to do many things that apply to all good meetings. For example, you’ll need to open the meeting and ask for updates. You may also find the chance to suggest collaboration between team members. And the person running the meeting is also responsible for putting aside, or sidebarring, issues that can be discussed after the meeting. These are all techniques that can help you in any kind of meeting, whether you work with scrum or not.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Jill, a project manager and scrum master, leading a daily scrum meeting. We’ll also hear two team members, Katherine and Sam. Sam will be first to provide his updates. And, as you’ll hear, Jill will help keep the team focused.

Listening Questions

1. When she opens the meeting, what does Jill suggest they do to stay focused?
2. When Sam says what he is going to do today, what does Jill suggest?
3. What issue does Jill want to “sidebar,” or leave for after the meeting?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 308 – English for Project Management 3: Initial Test Build

Business English Pod 308 - Project Management English - Initial Test Build

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for project management meetings. In this lesson, we’re going to look at delivering an initial test build to the client.

In our last lesson, we looked at how important it is to set clear expectations with a good project kickoff meeting. But no matter how well you’ve educated the client about your work process, you’ve still got work to do when you deliver an initial test build. You can’t just hand it over to the client and wait for their feedback. It would be nice if project management was that simple, but it’s not. Handing off an initial test build needs to be dealt with carefully.

For one thing, you need to manage the client’s expectations. That means making sure they understand that you’re not delivering a final product. Rather, you’re giving them something to try out, or test. In this way, project management involves collaboration, or working together with a client. And that’s something you will want to emphasize when you deliver the initial test build.

Collaboration is especially important during the testing process. And it’s a good idea to outline the procedures very carefully for the client. If you don’t, then you’re likely to encounter obstacles. When you hand over a test build, you might also discover the client’s needs have changed. Or that they want something new. In this case, it’s important to clearly identify a change in the project scope. And you need to make sure the client understands that there may be cost overruns connected to a change of scope.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Martin, a project manager with OptiTech. He’s been leading the development of new software for a logistics company. Martin is having a teleconference with Zara, a manager at the client company, and Liam, their IT manager. They are discussing OptiTech’s initial test build.

Listening Questions

1. At the start of the conversation, what does Martin want to focus on when they look at the initial test build?
2. What does Martin say is the first step in the testing process?
3. How does Martin respond to Zara and Liam’s request for “load tendering tools?”

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 307 – English for Project Management 2: Kickoff Meeting (2)

Business English Pod 307 - Project Management English - Kickoff Meeting 2

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson, which continues our look at a project kickoff meeting.

Anyone who’s been involved with projects should know just how important it is to have good communication with a client. And good communication starts right at the beginning, at a project kickoff meeting. That’s when you’ll have the chance to make sure a client understands how you work and how the project should run.

In our last lesson, we looked at some of the basics that you need to cover in your first project meeting. Today, we’ll look at some more ways of increasing your chances of avoiding problems and ensuring that a project runs smoothly. In many cases, it can be a good idea to actually bring up potential obstacles in your meeting. If you see something that might impact the timeline or the budget, you can let the client know about it. And that might mean that you have to educate the client about your work process.

When you educate a client about your development process, you might find yourself using too much technical language. But if you want the client to really understand, you might have to rephrase that information in simpler terms. Of course, you don’t want to focus too much on potential problems. And for that reason you should know how to redirect a discussion away from problems and toward other issues. For example, you might need to ask the client for important information to get the project started.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin Martin and Jill. Their company, OptiTech, is starting a new project to develop software for a logistics company. Martin and Jill are kicking off the project by holding a teleconference with Zara, the manager of the client company, and Liam, their IT manager. In this part of the dialog, Martin and Jill are making sure Zara and Liam understand potential obstacles and the development process.

Listening Questions

1. What does Martin say is the cause of some potential obstacles?
2. What is Jill’s simple explanation of a technical idea that Zara didn’t understand?
3. When Martin redirects the discussion away from obstacles, what does he say he wants to discuss?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module

BEP 306 – English for Project Management 1: Kickoff Meeting (1)

Business English Pod 306 - Project Management English - Kickoff Meeting

Welcome back to Business English Pod for our new series on English for project management. For our first lesson we’re going to look at a kickoff meeting at the start of a project.

Whether or not you’re a project manager, you surely know that every project is a unique and complex process. Seeing a project through to completion, on time and within budget, takes a huge range of people skills and business know-how. And sometimes during a big project it might feel like everything is working against successful completion.

But there are ways to minimize some of these challenges. This is particularly true at the beginning of a project when it’s important to make sure you get off to a good start. For one thing, you’ll need to meet with the client to make sure the ground rules of the project are clear. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with confusion mid-project. Kicking off a project effectively also means outlining protocols, or important procedures, and explaining lines of communication. After all, when a problem or challenge does arise, everyone should know exactly who to talk to and how to make the necessary changes.

The kickoff meeting is also a time for everyone to make their priorities clear. If you are the client and sticking to the timeline is more important than keeping to the budget, you should make that known right from the start. Of course, there may be competing priorities. And as a project manager, you may have to manage client expectations carefully, which might involve setting some conditions when you agree to something.

In today’s dialog, we’ll join Martin and Jill, who work for a software company called OptiTech. Their company is holding a teleconference to kick off a project to develop custom software for a logistics company that will help them manage and track shipments. Martin is the project manager, while Jill is the lead developer. On the call, we’ll also hear from Zara, a manager at the logistics company, and Liam, their IT manager. Together, they are all trying to get the project off to a good start.

Listening Questions

1. How does Martin say that Jill should deal with technical issues?
2. What does Zara emphasize as her company’s priority in the project?
3. Near the end of the conversation, what condition does Martin attach to the successful management of the timeline?

Premium Members: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | PhraseCast | Lesson Module
Scroll to Top