The Jour Fixe
I've been doing "jours fixes" with my clients since I started being a Product Owner assistant at Liip. Recently, I realized that this practice was not a standard and that it would be really valuable to write about it so that others could learn and profit from it.
In this blog post, I will present the jour fixe, how I do it and who should be involved in it.
The jour fixe
Basically a jour fixe is simply a weekly meeting with the client to discuss about the project. It seems really basic and not worth talking about but what it really means is that you ensure keeping the communication channel with your client open during the whole project. This is particularly important in an agile setup like we do at Liip but shouldn’t be underrated in any project setup neither.
Without a weekly meeting every single week, we tend to communicate a lot at the beginning of a project and then later on only communicate to handle issues. It creates a link between communication and problems. Very quickly, a new email makes us worry about which new problem has arrised on the project and negativity is in the air even before reading the message. Communication should stay neutral or positive. This way our daily business makes more pleasure and issues can be handled more positively and constructively.
The jour fixe is quite unstructured. We start by always sharing our current status for each activities of the project. Then, we start talking about the topics of the day. The topics are decided organically during the week so that every subject that needs discussion is put on the table on the next jour fixe. The topics may vary a lot even though new features, backlog priorization, budget and interface questions are the main subjects we discuss about. To keep the jour fixe under control we ask that the person who proposes a new topic also provides a timebox for it. If we see that we have to many topics, we try to schedule extra meetings instead of postponing the topics. The jour fixe takes place in our office every second time so that the client stays close to the team and to the project.
In my current setup with a client PO team and me as PO assistant, we try to always attend the jour fixe. Depending on the topics we invite other stakeholders to make sure things go forward and the right people talk together. Team members, Designers and most importantly the interaction designers take often part in the jour fixe. Over a whole project, I tend to have 50% of the jour fixe between POs only and the rest with an invitee, being almost everytime the interaction designer helping us takng the right decisions and making sure that the product we create stays in the right track.
The important message to take home here is that keeping the communication channel open is critical to the success of your projects. It also means that you should talk about everything, challenge ideas, refactor them with your client. As much as it consumes time and energy, I can ensure you that you will end up with a final product of higher value and have more fun doing it.
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