Jag Venugopal's Blog

June 2, 2009

Improving project status meetings

Filed under: Project Management — Jag @ 7:42 pm
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One of the rituals of project management is the weekly status meeting. When managed poorly, this can be a significant waste of time for all members on the team. This occurs, for example, when every single attendee, in round-robin format, states what they did during the past week, and what they expect to do during the next week. This is a waste of time, because each team member could have read project status sitting at their desks, at a time that was more convenient for them.

A better approach would be to have a deadline for project status reports to be sent to the team lead or the project manager. The PM would then review each person’s status and plans, and prepare a summary status report. This summary status report would be sent to all team members well in advance of the status meeting. It is assumed in the status meeting that all team members have read the status report and are prepared to discuss their specific areas further.

The status meeting is then focused on areas of exception — where performance has diverged from plan, or where the team has run into issues. Furthermore, issues are not discussed threadbare during the status meeting. Rather, the status meeting acts only to delegate each issue to a subset of team members, who are assigned the responsibility to review the issue, come up with solutions, and report back to the larger team. As the task is being delegated, a leader responsible for the closure of the issue is identified. Other team members with a stake in the issue can ask to be included in the conversation. The task leader is given a deadline by when they need to get back to the group with a response.

Following a disciplined approach to status meetings will ensure that they are short and focused. It gets team members back to their desks sooner — which they will appreciate!

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