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10 DO’S and DON’TS of the Project Status Meeting
By Barney Austen

The best mechanism for open communication for a Project Manager is the Project Status meeting. The objective of these meetings is to highlight any issues as soon as possible and allow everyone to get on with their work. However, in practice, this is rarely the case. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to ensure that these meetings are a success.

For those of you unlucky enough to have attended a poorly run daily project status meeting, I am sure you are well aware of the many downfalls that are repeated throughout both IT and Non-IT Projects.

  1. DO make it routine

    • Project Status Meetings should be typically held in the same location and at the same time each day.
    • Ideally the daily meetings are held in the morning as they help set the context for the coming day’s work.
  2. DON’T schedule meetings at lunch time or after 5pm

    • Attendees will not be happy that you decided to use their lunch break or delay their dinner reservations for a Project Status Meeting.
    • An un-happy attendee will not be a productive attendee.
  3. DO Schedule Meetings at least 24 hours in Advance and Circulate an agenda in advance

    • If there is no agenda, don’t have a meeting.
    • Even if the agenda is just to have a quick status update, that would suffice.
    • Having an agenda helps the participants prepare appropriately and anticipate the kind of information they might need to produce.
  4. DO Ensure that all key stakeholders can attend

    • If key points are being discussed and the decision maker is not there, it will only frustrate those who did attend.
  5. DO Set ground rules

    • Laptops closed. Phones off or on silent. You’re either at the meeting or you’re not, and few things are more distracting or disruptive than the guy who is banging away at a keyboard or typing a text every five minutes
    • Let all attendees know that the meeting will be over much quicker if you have everyone’s full attention.
    • No mini-meetings within the meeting (i.e., no separate side-discussions during the meeting).
    • Only the chair can interrupt when someone is speaking.
    • No bringing up unrelated topics.
    • Use only English (or whatever the language common to all participants) during meetings.
  6. DON’T drag the meeting out longer than is necessary

    • There is nothing wrong with a 5 minute meeting. Don’t feel the need to justify the meeting by prolonging it with non-agenda items
    • The stand-up meeting has been proven to be an effective mean of reducing meeting times.
  7. DO take notes

    • Accurate minutes should be taken throughout the meeting (by either the Project Manager or an appointed attendee).
    • Take note of attendance.
    • A digital camera can help greatly in capturing anything on the whiteboard.
    • These notes can be used to summarize the Project Status Meeting at the end.
  8. DON’T get side-tracked

    • All attendees have given their time to attend. Don’t waste it.
    • The daily meeting is not used as a problem-solving or issue resolution meeting. Issues that are raised should be taken offline.
  9. DO start and finish on time

    • There is nothing more frustrating than people turning up 15 minutes after the scheduled start time and the meeting running over by 30 minutes.
    • Consistently start and finish on time. This will gain respect from all attendees.
    • Provide structure and be firm about respecting everyone’s time.
  10. DO summarize

    • Be sure to use a few minutes at the end to review any major action items that were generated in the meeting.
    • The Project Manager should email the list of resolved and new action items to all the participants ASAP.

Barney Austen is the founder of http://beta.myprojecttracker.com/ (still in Beta), an easy to use, cost effective, powerful tool to provide both business owners and project managers the key information needed to run their projects efficiently and effectively. Barney Austen’s passion is to help businesses through the provision of functionally relevant, but intuitive products. You can read more from Barney on his company’s blog, available here.

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