Project Status Meetings

8 Strong Arguments to Justify Bailing Out of Project Status Meetings

Posted by  Ian Edwards

The more people or partners there are involved in your project, the harder it is to get key team members to attend project status meetings. The whole point of holding the meetings is to keep a firm grasp on progress, but how can you get anything accomplished if all of your time is spent scheduling and attending meetings? And what about the information that's presented? It's all static and out of date as soon as it's shared at the meeting. Here are a few strong arguments that can help provide justification for ditching the status meeting and getting back to work.

1. The meeting is scheduled during lunch, after 5:00 or on the weekend.

Your time is just as valuable as everyone else’s. Although sacrificing a lunch here or there or staying late once in a while probably isn’t detrimental to your work-life balance, status meetings continuously scheduled during time periods outside of your normal work schedule shouldn’t become a regular occurrence. If there’s not a legitimate reason for the meeting time, respectfully refuse the meeting invite and propose a more suitable time frame.

2. The meeting length is scheduled for more than one hour.

Status meetings were never intended to take the place of in-depth discussions about a project. When a project has multiple stakeholders, brevity and concise reporting are not only appreciated but also necessary. While each team leader or manager needs to check in, only details relevant to status should be shared to avoid losing scope and getting off track.

3. You received less than 24 hours’ notice.

Emergency meetings are not status meetings. If things have gone awry on a project and must be discussed within a 24-hour time frame, it constitutes an emergency meeting. And in that case, it’s not likely that all parties need to be there to address the problems. As a matter of professional respect, you should receive more than 24 hours’ notice and time to sufficiently prepare for the meeting.

4. There is no agenda.

According to the American Management Association (AMA), one of the top nine reasons project status meetings are unsuccessful is that there is no prepared or circulated agenda. With no agenda, the meeting loses focus and can quickly deteriorate.

5. The agenda is a book.

Alternatively, if the agenda being passed around is thicker than your smart phone, the meeting has evolved past the scope of a status meeting before it has even started. There’s very little legitimate reason for a status meeting to last over an hour. If a topic needs to be discussed to that extent, a separate meeting with relevant team members should be scheduled to address it.

6. Key stakeholders are absent.

It’s understandable if someone is absent occasionally, but when status meetings are perpetually held without key stakeholders present, there’s a problem. If a decision needs to be made and there’s no one there with the authority to make it, team members may become disillusioned and lose faith in the project’s progress.

7. The meeting is going off target.

In the same way that time parameters and absent agendas affect focus, a status meeting goes downhill when attendees can't stay on target. This is another of the top nine reasons people don't feel like status meetings accomplish anything. If team members are losing focus and the direction strays with no return, your time is better spent elsewhere. Bow out gracefully and get back to business.

8. The status reports are outdated.

The whole point of the status meeting is to report progress, or lack thereof. Even though weekly status meetings are the norm, projects are dynamic and constantly changing. To truly be informed of a project's progress, you need access to real-time data. In an information flow diagram (IFD) you can see how and when information is passed within the organization, between project members and within departments, as well as how the flow affects inter- and cross-functional systems of the project.

When only static information exists, such as that shared in project status meetings, the flow of information is halted. Even though project status is "reported," a dynamic flow of information that's accessible as it happens is much more useful and a more accurate representation of status. 

Solutions to Gain Accuracy in Status Reporting

Instead of trying to gather people together in-person or at the same time via video messaging, a software solution that grants real-time access to team members and stakeholders creates a more accurate representation at any given point. Professional services automation software solutions provide people with the tools they need to stay informed, within budget and within scope while delivering the project on time.

By utilizing a PSA software solution instead of relying on status meetings, you: 

  • Increase forecasting efficiency 
  • Optimize resources
  • Motivate through real collaboration 
  • Complete profitable projects for your organization 

Information is continuously updated, schedules aren't disrupted by unsuccessful meetings and everyone can stay on target. If you're tired of unproductive project status meetings, make an argument for PSA software. It will keep your projects dynamic without losing time and profits.

Ian Edwards