To know the progress of the project at any time is one of the main responsibilities of a project manager.
To this end, project status meetings become a fundamental tool throughout the project life cycle.
Unfortunately, however, too often, these appointments turn into a waste of time losing sight of the objectives of the meeting itself.
In this article we will try to unveil some secrets to carry out effective Project status meetings.
- The aims and times of the meetings on the progress of the project
- The most common reasons why project progress meetings turn into a waste of time.
- Unclear or even missing agenda
- Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting
- Inability to manage the time during the meeting
- Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting
- Absent or ineffective feedback from team members
The aims and times of the meetings on the progress of the project
The frequency of these meetings obviously varies depending on:
- the complexity of the project;
- the number of project team members;
- the level of information required by the project owner, by customers, stakeholders, etc.
- from the level of involvement of the project task manager.
Once the timing has been established, it is fundamental for the Project Manager to evaluate, during the meetings, the progress of each of the following elements:
- Updates of individual activities.
- Progress of the project compared to planning: are we late or early?
- Budget status: are we under or have we exceeded the budget?
- Quality status: are we maintaining the expected quality levels?
- Current or hypothetical problems (such as changes, problems with resources, dissatisfaction with the customer or supplier, etc.).
- Next steps to be taken.
Project status meetings are essential for the Project Manager and must be scheduled periodically.
Thanks to these meetings the Project manager has the possibility to:
- Keep the focus on the project.
- Orient the team to look in the same direction.
- Report to the company management clear and updated information on the progress of the entire current project.
The most common reasons why project progress meetings turn into a waste of time.
There are some recurring reasons why project status meetings fail. Here is a list of the most frequent:
- Unclear or even missing agenda.
- Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.
- Inability to manage the time during the meeting.
- Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.
- Absent or ineffective feedback* from team members.
*(you can also read “How to receive feedback“)
Unclear or even missing agenda
When Project status meetings doesn’t have a previously defined and shared agenda, they will inevitably become unclear and ineffective.
Without a roadmap that marks the road, the meeting is easily dispersed and time is often misused or even lost.
In addition, team members will not be able to provide effective feedback as they are not prepared to face the meeting.
The purpose of a project status meeting is to obtain an update on the status of activities, identify problems and so on.
Therefore It’s essential that team members prepare themselves on time and collect specific data before the meeting to be prepared to answer certain key questions.
Team members not adequately prepared for the meeting.
It often happens that some team members do not perceive the importance of the meeting and think that all they should do is just show up and attend the meeting.
When this happens, the whole team loses precious time.
Inability to manage the time during the meeting
“Even today an interminable meeting …”.
This is the classic phrase that the team members, exhausted, exchange each other out of the meeting room.
If the time is not managed properly you will get three boomerang effects:
- Team demotivation.
- The need for a further meeting on the same topic.
- The possibility of arriving at hasty and ineffective decisions.
In addition, team members may try to skip the meeting by perceiving it as a waste of time.
Once team members begin to miss project status meetings, the overall effectiveness of this tool is bound to deteriorate inexorably
Inability to maintain focus on the subject matter of the meeting.
Closely related to the previous one, it is the inability to stay on the pre-established tracks.
This incapacity is very frequent.
In fact, participants often tend to digress, considerably reducing the time dedicated to the purpose of the meeting.
Absent or ineffective feedback from team members.
One of the most difficult tasks of a project manager is to deal with several different personalities within the team.
The most aggressive personalities tend to dominate project meetings, while the more passive types tend to contribute much less to the discussions being much less talkative about their views on a given problem.
We all know the saying that the creaking wheel gets more oil and that’s what often happens during project meetings.
Sometimes a project manager or team leader will be overly influenced by a team member with a more aggressive personality.
When some team members dominate while others sit passively (without providing critical input on a problem), the quality of decisions taken by the team suffers.
Another big problem with this dysfunction is that the project manager often develops a distorted view of some fundamental project problems because one or two team members express very strong opinions.
Such opinions may not be representative of the group at all, but without a balanced response from another team member, the project manager may conclude a progress meeting with an inaccurate view of the team’s views on a particular issue.
Project status meetings are a key tool in the project manager’s toolbox.
Unfortunately, a few project managers have adopted methods and techniques to ensure that these sessions are concise, productive and valuable.
Too many project managers assume that a project status meetings means sending an invitation to the meeting and simply showing up.
Project status meetings require a lot more!
The good news is that when project status meetings are effective and efficient, the results are huge!
The productive meetings on the progress of the work:
- increase the morale of the group.
- Provide comprehensive information on the status of the project.
- Discover potential risks.
- Provide a forum for the timely resolution of problems.
- Encourage the sharing of relevant information among team members.
Finding the best time to plan a meeting on the progress of a project is very important.
It may be obvious, but it’s not just about finding a day when the team is available, it’s about finding a day when none of your colleagues have important deadlines, scheduled appointments or high-priority activities to close.
Using a project management software like Twproject, with shared agendas, is essential to manage a focused team.