Preparing for Project Meetings
I’ve written before that communication should be planned into a project. Regular project progress meetings are an essential so that the immediate project team understand the status of the project.
A project meeting is just one type of meeting, and all meetings need to well organised.
It should come as no surprise that in a 6 month project around 6 to 10 meetings will be required. So take some time to book the venue and organise the refreshments as a very early administrative task.
This blog should answer the questions What is a project progress meeting? and How do I run a project update meeting?
Project Meetings Should be Pro-Active
Project Management is the opposite of fire-fighting. A good project manager is pro-active, and anticipates future potential issues.
Therefore a good project update meeting is just 20% reflection on previous events and 80% forward looking anticipating future problems.
Most of the time during the meeting should be looking forward, examining the project plan and looking for readiness for future tasks.
It is important to makes notes of the previous events and then discuss them at length during the Project Review.
Project Team Meeting Agenda
Prepare for a project meeting by setting an agenda:
- Progress: This can either be by getting each team member to talk about their tasks, or to look at tasks in the project plan. Careful questions need to be used here. “Are you on track?” will get a positive response. “How much time to complete the task?” may be more productive. Pay particular attention to ‘hand-overs’ between team members, and allow the team time to talk to each other. Remember that asking for a percentage complete is asking for trouble!
- Communication Planning: Projects fail due to lack of communication. A review of the communications plan is required to ensure the latest status and latest communications have been made.
- Stakeholders: As part of the communication plan, the stakeholder engagement plan should be looked at. Are the stakeholders the same? Are there any new stakeholders? Have communications been issued as planned? Are any changes required?
- Issues: Issues are things that have already happened that are disrupting existing plans. These will be an integral part of the project meeting as issues represent changes to the original plans. If they have not been discussed during task progress reporting, they should be discussed separately.
- Risks: Risks are things that may happen in the future. There needs to be some time in each project meeting to identify new risks, and check that previous risk assessments and risk actions are still valid.
Don’t forget that a formal meeting is recorded, and people have time to prepare the words that they want others to hear. You also need to do informal project monitoring.
Project Team Building
A project meeting is also a chance to view the project team in action. During the initial period of the project it should be remembered that this is a group, rather than a team. A workshop could be arranged to get the team interacting with each other and allowing the project manager (leader) to observe the team in action.
Depending on the project type, workshops could be held around:
- Identifying Stakeholders
- Creating the Work Breakdown Structure
- Writing the Project Specification
- Time could also be spent discussing the teams Belbin profiles
A project plan created by the team will lead to more and commitment from the team than a plan created without the teams involvement. Holding a workshop has the double benefit of team building, and creating the project plan.
Project Kick-Off meetings and Project Review Meetings are covered in separate blogs.
Project meetings are an essential part of project management. They are required so that the status of the project is known to all involved.
A god project meeting is 80% forward looking, anticipating problems, and 20% backward looking, reviewing past mistakes.