Over 1 billion meetings happen every year in the US, with 11 million taking place daily! These meetings may vary in their purpose, type, or the level of organizational impact, however they all contribute to better efficiency and alignment at work. Among many meeting types, CAB (change-advisory board) meetings hold a special place, as they directly drive decision-making and influence an organization’s success.
This is why effective change advisory boards emerge as a critical element for organizational agility. They prioritize actions for proposed project changes, ensuring their alignment with company goals. However, the success of a CAB meeting largely hinges on its agenda. A well-structured, comprehensive agenda ensures that discussions remain focused, decision-making is efficient, and every stakeholder has clarity on the issues at hand.
This article aims to answer such questions as, “What is a CAB meeting?”, “How to run one effectively?”, “What to include in the agenda?”, and “What are CAB meetings best practices?”
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What is a CAB meeting?
A change advisory board (CAB) is a group of people that participate in changing the management process, including assessment, prioritization, authorization, and scheduling of change requests.
A change request is a proposal to alter certain aspects of the production environment. It’s usually brought up by a client or a team member.
Therefore, the purpose of a CAB meeting is to hear proposals, make decisions, assign responsibilities, and set deadlines for the decided activities. All CAB attendees should make sure the proposed changes deliver value.
Who are the CAB members?
The CAB normally includes:
- Change manager
- User managers
- Technical experts
- Third parties, like customers
- Operations managers
- Services desk analysts
What do the CAB members do?
The major responsibilities of a change advisory board are:
- To review the proposed changes before the meeting
- To attend CAB meetings or send a representative
- To assess resources, risks, and consequences of requests
- To review and control the board meeting approval process
- To communicate with other business leaders about the change processes
- To leverage change management software
- To assess failed changes, define their reasons, and consider possible solutions
Types of CAB meetings
There are three main types of CAB meetings.
1. Pre-approval CAB meetings
During pre-approval meetings, CAB members:
- Discuss if the change will bring value to the customers
- Consider in what ways the change will affect the organization
- Identify if the organization has enough capabilities for the successful change
- Evaluate the cost of the change and decide if it’s worth the investment
2. Post-approval CAB meetings
Post-approval meetings occur when the change management process moves to production. There are two main reasons for this type of meeting:
- To monitor the change process and see if it requires more management
- To review the results of changes, assess the risk level, and decide whether the change should continue through to pre-approval
3. Emergency CAB meetings
Emergency change advisory board (ECAB) meetings take place when an organization is under immediate threat and business leaders announce an operational emergency.
The major reasons for emergency meetings include:
- Security breaches
- System failures
- Data hacks
When any of these happens, engineers, cyber security specialists, change managers, and change owners meet to discuss emergency changes and risk management.
Benefits of CAB meetings
Here’s how every organization can benefit from CAB meetings.
1. Proper decision-making
As a CAB consists of representatives of different teams, it can explore the change request from different perspectives and come up with the best decision. For example, a decision made just by IT specialists may fail to recognize the concerns of accounting.
2. Risk reduction
An organization needs an advisory board because it can balance the need for change with the need to minimize risks. That’s why a CAB has become an essential element of a defined change management process — it helps a company to grow and control inherent risks.
3. Quick response to security threats
Thanks to ECAB meetings, IT experts can react to cyber threats and eliminate their consequences quickly and efficiently. Additionally, such meetings help to prevent security problems.
How to run a CAB meeting
These five steps can help you set up a CAB meeting to add value to your organization.
1. Create a meeting agenda
Choose a board meeting agenda template and fill it in with discussion topics, allocate time to each, and propose potential decisions and their outcomes.It will help to stay on track, control the timing, and avoid irrelevant conversations. A CAB meeting agenda can also be described in the Robert’s Rules of Order agenda format.
2. Share a list of proposed changes with CAB members
Make sure CAB participants have enough time to review potential changes and ask questions before the meeting. If CAB members send requests too close to the meeting date, consider implementing lead times for the CAB-routed changes.
3. Don’t avoid uncomfortable questions
To make the CAB meeting process effective and to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, discuss and answer the following questions:
- Do we have enough expertise to conduct the change?
- What are the consequences if something goes wrong?
- What is our backup plan?
- What do we do if this change doesn’t fix the problem?
4. Take meeting minutes
Use one of the board meeting minutes templates to outline what happened during the change advisory board meeting. This information can be later shared with stakeholders that couldn’t attend the meeting. The records can also be referred to later to recall why the board made specific decisions.
5. Send a follow-up email
To summarize everything, keep every team member informed, make sure everyone is on the same page, and send a follow-up email after each meeting. It should include minutes, key decisions, action items, an implementation schedule, deadlines, and relevant documentation.
To improve collaboration, enhance decision-making, and make the change advisory board meeting process even more efficient, board portals are recommended for organizations. These are centralized and highly secure platforms where board members can conduct virtual board meetings, store and share board materials, assign tasks, and set deadlines.
You can have a look at the board portal software comparison tables to learn more about the providers and the tools they offer.
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What to include in a CAB meeting agenda
Here’s what an agenda for your CAB meetings should contain.
1. New requests for change
A request for change (RFC) is a formal proposal that describes the details of a change. It’s requested by stakeholders and clarifies what impact the change will have on the product or organization.
Send the list of RFCs to CAB attendees for review at least a week before the meeting so that they can review them, ask questions, and prepare.
2. The change process
When a change request is approved, the change management process begins. It usually involves:
- Assigning roles and tasks
- Building a strategy
- Removing blockers
- Monitoring and accelerating the change process
- Measuring and optimizing the change activities
3. The change schedule
An effective change schedule keeps the whole team on track. It can include:
- Tasks and whom they’re assigned to
- The process phases
- Maintenance windows
- Blackout dates
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Best practices for the CAB meeting facilitation and moderation
The hosting of the CAB meeting is not easy and requires a blend of specific skills, tools, and best practices. In addition, strategy and meeting agendas ensure constructive dialogues and decision-making.
Drawing from extensive research and references, here are four pivotal practices to prioritize.
1. Post-meeting evaluation
A successful CAB meeting doesn’t end when the participants leave the room; it concludes with a reflection on its efficacy.
A structured post-meeting review allows organizations to gauge the effectiveness of the session and identify areas for improvement. Moreover, regular evaluations highlight patterns, indicating consistent challenges or strengths within the process.
After the meeting, the following questions allow assess its effectiveness:
- Were the goals of the agenda clearly defined?
- Was the material well-organized?
- Were all the attendees adequately prepared for the meeting?
- Were the discussions productive?
- Did you successfully achieve your objectives by attending the meeting?
2. Facilitator role and responsibilities
A facilitator plays a multifaceted role, ensuring not only that the agenda is followed but that discussions remain productive. Moreover, facilitators must possess a deep understanding of the topics at hand.
Beyond guiding dialogue, facilitators also have to maintain a neutral stance, ensuring that every voice is heard and respected. The infographic below represents the roles of meeting facilitators.
3. Fostering constructive discussions
The mix of members’ perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences generates a dynamic and important cultural patchwork that distinguishes your CAB gathering. There will always be themes and situations that will polarize members with opposing viewpoints. However, the quality of the discourse determines the outcomes of CAB meetings.
- Encouraging open dialogue while ensuring discussions remain on track is a balancing act. Using techniques like the “two-feet” rule, where participants feeling unproductive can step away, ensures ongoing engagement.
- Structured brainstorming sessions, coupled with visual aids like mind maps or flowcharts, can help visualize complex processes and encourage participation.
4. Conflict resolution technique
Inevitably, differences in opinion arise in CAB meetings, making conflict resolution skills vital.
- Embracing a solutions-focused approach, where conflicting parties collaborate to find a middle ground, promotes harmony.
- Active listening techniques, ensuring each party feels heard and understood, diffuse tensions, and open doors to compromise.
In today’s global economy, constructive disagreements among team members are crucial for keeping the business on track. To maintain a coherent leader-follower exchange (LMX), all members must participate in a balanced dialogue during meetings.
Using a constructive disagreement approach can help facilitate this.
Mistakes to avoid during CAB meetings
For an efficient CAB meeting, try to avoid the following mistakes:
1. Having no agenda. Not preparing for a meeting leads to several negative outcomes:
- People attending the meeting won’t be prepared.
- Participants won’t know the meeting’s purpose.
- The team may have irrelevant discussions.
- Key decisions might not be made.
- No one will know what to do after the meeting.
2. Taking unclear change requests into work. This mistake can also result in a number of negative consequences:
- Unclear understanding of the change goals
- Difficulties with assigning roles
- Not proper change implementation
3. Not learning from previous changes. You can use a Continual Service Improvement (CSI) model to evaluate changes and their impact on the organization from the business perspective. More specifically, CSI allows to:
- Avoid mistakes made in the past
- Improve the process for future changes
- Discover efficient and cost-effective ways to improve processes and services
- Develop the team’s efficiency and effectiveness
3 trends in CAB meeting agendas
The 2023 Forecast report predicts growth based on significant technology advancements and a renewed emphasis on sustainability, wellness, and inclusivity. This brings optimism for the future. What are the primary developments in CAB meetings and agendas?
1. Attendee-centric agendas
Attendees now seek personalized and dynamic agendas that cater to their interests. Crowd-sourcing agendas in real-time and allowing attendees to choose topics that excite them fosters engagement and energy in meetings.
While planning your agenda, сonsider placing the most critical issues at the start of the meeting.
2. AI-driven agendas and analytics
AI has the potential to improve meetings, but humans should always play a vital role in corporate life. However, it is important to remember that humans should always play a vital role in corporate life.
DCMS states that in the UK, approximately 15% of businesses utilize at least one form of AI technology. Around 432,000 businesses use AI, with 68% of large companies implementing it compared to only 15% of smaller businesses.
Machine learning can be utilized to streamline repetitive or laborious tasks, freeing up time for more important aspects such as creativity, emotional intelligence, connection, and problem–solving.
3. Virtual and hybrid meetings
Hybrid events have been increasingly popular since 2021. According to a report by vFairs called “The Future of Virtual Events”, 38.8% of those surveyed believe that hybrid events will be the most popular in the coming year. This means that in 2023, we can expect to see a surge in the popularity of hybrid events, resulting in higher attendance numbers.
Improved technology is driving the rise of virtual and hybrid meetings, blending physical and virtual attendance. This trend allows global participation, reduces costs, and contributes to environmental conservation.
Board portal as a tool for successful CAB meetings
To make the change management process easier, faster, and more efficient, change advisory boards should use board portals. These are the platforms where board members can store board materials, collaborate, and communicate.
Here are a board portal’s main advantages:
- Centralized storage. Store board materials, change requests, agendas, and meeting minutes in one secure space.
- Secure file sharing. Share the agenda or other relevant documents in advance so that all team members can prepare for the meeting.
- Mobile user interface. Collaborate with the team, share documents, and stay up-to-date on the change process by accessing a portal from your mobile phone.
- Improved collaboration. Conduct virtual CAB meetings, vote online, sign documents electronically, and see how quickly the change process is progressing.
- User-friendliness. Start using a board portal right away, regardless of the level of your technical skills.
- Eco-friendliness. Conduct paperless board meetings to reduce your environmental footprint.
- Customer support. Contact a support specialist 24/7 with requests or questions.
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What is a change advisory board, and who are its members?
A change advisory board (CAB) is a group of people that participate in the change management process, which includes assessment, prioritization, authorization, and scheduling of change requests. It usually includes a change manager, technical experts, customer representatives, operations managers, and services desk analysts.
What are the types of cab meetings?
The main types are pre-approval, post-approval, and emergency CAB meetings.
What should be included in the CAB meeting agenda?
The agenda for your CAB meetings should include the discussion of the new change requests, the change management process, and its schedule.