You’ve landed your first major project. You want it to go as well as possible. You definitely want it to succeed.
Project failure happens all too often though. The easiest way to succeed is to learn how other projects have failed and then, avoid those mistakes. Knowing what causes failure helps you avoid failure:
- Examine the weak points in your organization.
- Enhance your management strengths and your team’s strengths.
- Know how to motivate your team.
- Lead by showing your strength of discipline.
- Plan carefully and methodically.
- Conceive your projects in realistic terms and management.
- Track each step and milestone.
- Communicate openly with your team using appropriate channels that document your communications.
- Plan for the unexpected by budgeting a little extra and putting in place a risk strategy.
Project management meetings provide a communications method that you can use to fulfill more than half of the needs for a successful project. They provide for open communication and you can easily document them by recording them or having a secretary take notes. You can interweave planning, milestone tracking and stay on top of how realistic the goal setting is. You also show your discipline within them.
Five Vital Project Management Meetings
Make your meetings work by keeping them short and to the point. Entrepreneur Elon Musk does not hold meetings that last longer than 15 minutes. He also tells those invited that if they find they cannot contribute viable information, they should leave. This ensures that people succinctly share vital information and avoids frustration by those who have better things to do.
You should hold at least five meetings per project. Keep them short and to the point.
Project Kickoff Meetings
A project kickoff meeting where the team introduces itself within 48 hours of receiving the project assignment either in-person or via video call and you share key project details, next steps, and its deadline.
Project Status Meetings
Project status meetings allow project managers and the team to follow a systematic agenda and include a project schedule review with status updates of budget, scope, and risks.
Project Stakeholder Meetings
With Stakeholder meetings, the purpose is to help win their support of each project through updates, feedback loops, and straightforward communication.
Change Control Meetings
The purpose of change control meetings is to address massive project shifts through a governance process with a formal agenda, a change assessment discussion, and recommendations, plus a discussion of the next steps post-change decision.
Project Review Meetings
Project review meetings at the end of each project phase or project that occur within a few days of the close of the phase or project in which you discuss the lessons learned from the project and celebrate it all being over.
How to Run a Project Meeting
While the type of project meeting you conduct matters, so does the way you conduct it. Follow these seven tips to effectively learn how to run a project meeting.
- State your objective with a goal. “The goal of today’s meeting is…”
- Get a project update from each person that states what they did not get done, why and the project impact.
- Discuss the short- and long-term roadblocks and risks so you can eliminate obstacles.
- Highlight upcoming deadlines and major milestones. Make sure they are already logged into your shared project calendar.
- Re-cap the budget standing and have project leads report their budget standing.
- Use a project meeting timekeeper and stick with the allotted time to discuss the work.
- End every meeting with a one-minute summary and assign the next steps.
- Take notes and share them with the other team members in the cloud. Ask for feedback or let them make notes or comments.
In-Between the Meetings
Of course, the work does not happen in a vacuum. You will need to touch base with people in-between the large group meetings.
Use Instant Messaging Platforms
Use online means to keep the communication going. Meet with two or three of the project personnel for updates to their portion of the project in an instant messaging program like Slack. If you have chosen your project management software appropriately, this messaging system resides within it. You’ll be able to save conversations as a document or to export the discussion to another software to save as a text file or document.
Keep on Top of Team Members
Keep on top of what each team member does. Live the right example, too, by showing that you work every day on the same project that you expect them to do so.
Now that you have the knack for holding productive, succinct meetings, put those action items in your project management app and your planner. Get started on the work. Focus and achieve your goals.
6 Common Issues for Project Managers and How to Use PM Meetings to Fix Them
Issue #1: Running Behind Schedule on Due Dates
When projects run behind schedule, there can be many causes. During project meetings, project managers should assess the cause of the project falling behind schedule. Then, after getting an understanding of the cause, PMs should revise the plan, by either adjusting the schedule accordingly or assigning the proper resources needed to get back on schedule.
Issue #2: Poor quality in work being completed
Meeting quality standards is important – but it can difficult to balance this with time and budget restraints. When there’s a lack of emphasis on the quality of work throughout the project, clients will not be happy. That’s where project managers should step in, by using PM meetings to their advantage. These project management meetings should be used to assess the quality of work, even before the client sees the end result.
Elizabeth: “Status meetings can help project managers deal with quality problems on a project because the act of meeting together gives you a chance to talk about expectations and deliverables. You can talk about what quality standards are expected, and find out what progress has been made towards reaching those standards. If the team isn’t on track to hit quality targets, you can take early action to get things back on track. This is far better than waiting until the end, when the item has been delivered, and it isn’t of the appropriate quality. Internal meetings aren’t the only way to manage quality or budget overruns, of course, but keeping communication channels open across the team builds trust and that contributes to better working relationships and a greater likelihood that the team will deliver the project successfully.”
Issue #3: Going over Budget on a Project
Much like running behind schedule, projects that go over budget can be caused by many things. Project managers tracking budgets and expenses can course-correct these issues using PM meetings. One way to do this is to set boundaries for projects. Setting boundaries for projects will give team members an idea of how long to work on specific tasks, all while meeting quality guidelines.
Elizabeth: “Internal status meetings can help you stay on top of the project budget. When you talk regularly about the work, you’ll be able to spot where budget overruns might be a problem. Typically, we see projects spend more than they should when the work takes longer and the project is paying out for resource costs, or because new things are added into a project, and those increase the cost of the work. By meeting and talking regularly, project managers can spot moments like that early, so they can take appropriate action.”
Issue #4: Poor Communication During a Project
Whether it’s within a meeting, or not, carrying out a project means constant communication – and it starts with a project manager. As a project manager, you should encourage open communication with your team members. Be sure to use appropriate channels that document your communications in order to reference them during PM meetings.
Peter: “Communication is what project managers spend most of their time doing – fact. Communication is simple: the right information, the right person, the right way, at the right time – get all four ‘right’ and you achieve perfect communication – also a fact. But get even one wrong and you will fail to communicate – which leads to assumptions, misunderstanding, errors, rework, extra costs and delays – both a fact and the reality of so many projects.
Think about this carefully, maintain your communication plan, and keep it up to date and relevant. Also remember that reporting is not communicating, unless you meet the four criteria of successful communication.”
Issue #5: Oversight or lack of anticipation of an issue
As a project manager, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. For any project, there will most likely be unexpected problems and questions to address, whether it’s internal or external. Having the foresight to address potential issues before they become problems will help the project finish successfully.
Issue #6: A Lack of Team Buy-In
Getting project buy-in is probably the most overlooked aspect of project management. This delves into the human side of being a project manager. Right from the start, there needs to be buy-in on the project vision, expectations, and team roles. Explaining the project vision and roles of team members is important when launching a project.
Peter: “The most important thing for a Project Manager is to explain why are we doing this project and get people to buy into that, the visibility purpose. Team members need to appreciate the value of their contribution to this project and what is this project going to deliver at the end. And, as the team grows, because we all know that you don’t get a full project team on day one who stays with the project for the whole duration, then ensure that the ‘visibility of purpose’ is well understood in each new team member.”