Being a project manager means that you need to lead many weekly project status meetings, and you want to make sure they’re efficient, but also empowering for you and your team. The whole purpose of a project status meeting is to celebrate wins, address challenges, find efficiencies, and build confidence. It makes sense then that project leaders need to be incredibly organized to ensure the project is done on-time and done well.
According to Dana Brownlee in an article for the Project Management Institute:
Problems like these can be avoided, though, with the use of a good project status meeting agenda template.
How to prepare for a project status meeting
In advance of the meeting, prepare your team by letting them know how they are expected to contribute. Starting off with an agenda template is one of your first opportunities to do this. It will lay out the meeting purpose and what you’ll cover for the team, and it’ll help you determine how to manage the time most effectively. Sending out a project status meeting agenda also lets them know that you’re prepared and respect their time.
To help your team balance the workload and achieve results, the Project Management Institute recommends that your project status meeting needs to focus on:
- Increasing the morale of the group
- Providing comprehensive information project elements
- Discovering potential risks
- Providing a forum for open discussion
- Ensuring accountability
This project status meeting agenda template will ensure you achieve all of these things and more:
3 Items for your project status meeting agenda:
- Project updates: Take the time to celebrate any recent successes at the start and then begin key status updates. Reiterate the overall project objective and let everyone speak about what they’re working on.
- Roadblocks: Assess the issues that are preventing the team from finishing the project or getting work done. Review them as best you can but understand you might not resolve all the issues in this meeting.
- Open action items: Look ahead to the future and update next steps and deadlines.
Here are some ideas and examples for your project status meeting agenda:
1 Project updates
Any good project status meeting agenda template should start off with something positive. Start the meeting with a focus on accomplishments and goals that have been recently met or are ahead of schedule. This way, participants will feel motivated to be engaged in the conversation! List out items on the agenda so team members know they’re expected to give an update and identify who will lead each discussion.
Ask questions such as:
- Can everyone share one positive thing that’s happened since the last meeting?
- What percentage of completion is this item at?
Review the challenges that are preventing the team from finishing the project and identify who needs to be involved in follow-up discussions. If more discussion is needed, schedule separate meetings so as not to derail the project status meeting agenda.
The American Management Association, in “Understanding the Myths About Project Status Meetings,” recommends providing a checkpoint on the progress of a meeting. For example: “Thank you for that discussion. All right, we are on agenda item four of nine and we have 35 minutes left to discuss them.”
This subtle suggestion, “shows the team that the project manager is cognizant of the time and resets the expectation that the agenda will be followed and completed.”
3 Open action items
At the end of the meeting, review next steps, adjust upcoming deadlines and look ahead to future milestones. This is a good moment to reiterate the direction of the project. In the Harvard Business Review article, “The Secrets of Great Teamwork,” Martine Hass and Mark Mortensen say that:
“The foundation of every great team is a [compelling] direction that energizes, orients, and engages its members. Teams cannot be inspired if they don’t know what they’re working toward and don’t have explicit goals.”
Finally, at the end of your meeting, make sure that everyone has participated. This is a key part of the project status meeting agenda template. You should ask:
- Who else has not spoken yet?
- Was there anything we didn’t discuss or felt that we missed, and would like to bring it up now?
Project Status Meeting Best Practices
Avoid Mondays and Fridays as your regular meeting day. Midweek is best, like on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, since it gives team members time to prepare for the meeting and to work on follow-up tasks afterward. It’s also helpful to set regularly recurring meetings, but make sure to consider the momentum and needs of the project – if it doesn’t need to be weekly, make it biweekly. But don’t go too long in between status meetings. Your team needs to stay up-to-date, communicate, and feel supported!
With enough preparation and the right project status meeting agenda template, team members will be led to deliver better results and stronger projects.