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Status meetings are for wimps

December 9 2017

This was one of the most shocking statements I had ever heard came from the mouths of an industry renowned PMP trainer and expert in the field of project management.  It was many, many years ago and I wasn’t quite sure if we were supposed to laugh or argue with her.  It turns out that what she was trying to convey to us was that the typical boring status meeting where the project manager sits in a room and goes around the table asking every individual for status is ineffective and usually pointless.  The project manager should have an up-to-date understanding of where all aspects of the project are at any point in time — especially with today’s sophisticated collaboration tools that make information sharing easy and transparent.  These meeting should be designed to address exceptions to expected results (aka management by exception). 

There are certainly instances where these meetings are necessary — perhaps on a monthly basis when team members from dispersed locations and have information to share that cannot easily be communicated via a project management information system (PMIS).  However, the weekly dreaded meeting where everyone basically reads from the script and conveys relatively little useful and actionable information needs to be re-purposed into a more focused meeting.  To do so requires a few conditions:

  1. All project schedules are maintained on a regular basis and available in a shared repository
  2. Issues and Risk are also documented and updated in a shared repository
  3. A meeting agenda highlighting the items requiring attention:
    1. Schedule
    2. Budget
    3. Scope / Change Management
    4. Resources
    5. Issues / Risks

I will agree, that this is not that easy to do and requires some planning and effort.  Over a short period of time you will find that your team is spending the time focused on the more valuable items that need attention.  It will also serve as a signal to the team that exceptions to the plan will be addressed in the meeting and that they will be accountable!

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