You wouldn’t start running a marathon without an entire bottle of water on hand or start baking chocolate chip cookies with a mostly empty bag of flour. You’d want to replenish your supplies first — and the same can be said for your project management team.

When it comes to project management, it’s common to make a plan of what to work on and when, based on what’s coming into the project pipe. If you have more than one option, how can you be sure what to prioritize and what comes first?

In order to do so,  you and your team will want to run a specific type of kanban cadence called the replenishment meeting. If this is a new meeting style, you’re not alone. Let’s break it down.

What is a kanban replenishment meeting?

A kanban replenishment meeting is all about deciding what to work on next. Kanban replenishment is all about giving team members clarity and a robust explanation of various work processes. 

The kanban system also creates a shared understanding about managers, team leads, and key stakeholders about what is being worked on, when, and various due dates and milestones. Going about this process can also improve the flow of information on any type of product.

Team members who work on these projects can also remain focused, productive, and on-task regarding what’s next in the pipe and the work they’re responsible for to get their part complete. The end result? A better chance that the team will deliver a successful product or service, on time, with limited roadblocks along the way.

Pro tip

Stay on top of your tasks and deliver optimal results with an organizational tool like Fellow, where all your action items are in one place.

Meeting Action Items App

8 ways to run an effective replenishment meeting

Kanban, which derives from the Japanese word for “signboard” or “billboard,” can be done in various ways. However, an effective replenishment meeting is specific and needs to be done a certain way to be effective. Before your team can work on the items and products on their to-do list, there needs to be a straightforward way to know they’re ready to roll up their sleeves and get started. 

Running the right replenishment meeting will get you there. 

1 Clear understanding of replenishment objectives

Before your team gets too far ahead of itself, you first need to define the replenishment objectives. The main goal here is to make sure that the team selects the right set of items to work on throughout the project lifecycle. 

How long this takes will typically depend on the type of team that will be affected by the queue of projects and how extensive this list is.

2 Replenishment criteria

Next up, replenishment criteria. Here, anything on the Kanban board that was on the backlog of projects or assignments will move to “ready to go”. These projects will have a certain set of criteria, some of them being:

  • Risk: will the company have to lay off members of the team if the deadline is missed?
  • Level of urgency for completion: Will the company lose a significant customer if things go wrong? 
  • Value or return on investment (ROI) expected: Will there be an increase in revenue or customer satisfaction once complete?

Having a clear plan regarding the criteria sets team members up for success.

3 Workflow for replenishment

You’ll then want to move towards workflow for replenishment. Here, the workflow necessary to share with stakeholders is needed so that the agreed criteria for the projects now on the “to-do list” can be shared. This step is important so that the right set of work is allocated and nothing can fall through the cracks. 

4 Collaborative replenishment

To truly have a successful replenishment meeting, you need to have all key stakeholders, managers, and anyone who may be impacted by the team’s work or who may depend on their work, to attend and participate in the meeting on a regular basis.

When there are conflicting wants, needs, and demands from clients or customers on the team, this will only make it harder for everyone to come to an agreement on the work items needed for the initiative to be a success. 

Whether it be customers, c-suite executives, engineers, or sales representatives, ensure that everyone attends the meeting, brings with them any questions or things to consider, and is ready to participate in the conversation. 

5 Using a replenishment agenda template

If your organization finds they are frequently holding replenishments meetings, it may be in everyone’s best interest to use a meeting template. Doing so keeps every meeting consistent so that all attendees know what to expect in the meeting, every time. It also speeds up the time needed to prepare for each replenishment meeting, which comes in handy if the team is working on a tight deadline. 

6 Setting the correct meeting frequency

The meeting cadence can make or break any meeting, but especially a replenishment meeting. In most cases, it’s best to gather everyone involved for a replenishment meeting on a weekly basis, where conversations should last between 30-60 minutes. 

If you find that you’re running out of time, every time, consider making the meetings last longer before upping the cadence to more than once a week. The pace will vary depending on team needs. Having a fast-paced workflow with a multitude of small tasks will require meetings to take place once a week. A slower workflow combined with more detailed tasks may be able to get away with meeting monthly.

Find what works for you!

7 Having a strategic context

If you don’t have a strategy in place, now is the time to create one.

The strategy you set for your team will provide input into why this project is next on the to-do list and ensure that everything that could potentially be a roadblock or challenge has been thought of and potentially planned for. Having this context can provide an inside look into what is down the pipe for each task or project. 

8 Tracking objectives with the best technology

When your team is looking to stay organized and on track for all approaching deadlines, consider tracking objectives and all key details with top-notch meeting technology, like Fellow. 

Doing so ensures that all meeting attendees show up prepared, are ready to collaborate on notes, and record all action items for future projects. Plus, meeting notes can be sent out after the replenishment meeting has come to a close, keeping everyone up to speed on conversations, deadlines, and KPIs.

Replenishment meeting agenda template

Topics to include in your replenishment meeting agenda:

  • Task List
  • Fixed Delivery Dates
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Skills Needed 
  • Challenges faced

A plan of action

Turn the to-do section of your team’s kanban board into a list of tasks your team is ready to accomplish. It’s normal to have a backlog of tasks that start to pile up, so a replenishment meeting is what your team needs to better prioritize tasks that they should work to complete now so that other tasks can be done in the future. Once these expectations are set and the details are outlined, it’s go-time.