"Sabyasachi, the team is facing some issues with the business rules extraction process. You may need to coach the team for a few minutes, in today's project status meeting,", Mahesh said to me. My team and I were building a proof of concept for one of our healthcare clients. We were in the requirement gathering phase of this project named, the Medilyn Pricing Tool project and were working on business rules extraction from the existing application in Visual Basic 6.0.

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Mahesh was our competency manager. Mahesh had always encouraged his project managers in conducting the project status meetings effectively. On various occasions when his project managers were engaged with some other priority meetings, Mahesh had also encouraged me and Suresh, his project leaders, to conduct the project status meetings for our projects.

I remember the early days of my career when I used to hate these status meetings and considered them a waste of time. Like many other team members, I used to feel that the time spent on status meetings could be spent on something more 'useful.' However, as I progressed in my career, I started realizing the real value behind these status meetings and how they could be powerful tools in managing our projects successfully if they are utilized effectively.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the benefits of conducting your project status meetings effectively.

Project Status Meetings Between the Project Manager and His Team Members

One of the key responsibilities of a project manager is to collect the status of the project tasks from his team members and review them against the project plan. Project status reporting between a project manager and his team could be done in several ways, including automated or email-based solutions within the organization. However, one of the most effective methods of project status reporting between the project manager and his team members is the project status meeting. You can conduct project status meetings in multiple ways, including in-person meetings or conference calls.

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Effective Project Status Meetings Lead to Successful Projects

Effective Status meetings with your team can help you in multiple ways, including the following:

  1. Project Status Meetings Help Project Managers Track the Progress of the Project Through Status Updates from Team Members

    Project status meetings help project managers in reviewing the status collected from the team members. They help the project managers in assessing what has been accomplished to date and compare them with the planned activities. They allow project managers in the assessment of current problem areas and project risk areas; as well as communicating critical project information with quick feedback. Having these project status meetings also eliminates the communication problem that arises out of an assumption or belief that "everyone knows what's going on in this project." Often team members do not know, because they are busy with their tasks.
  2. Project Status Meetings Help Project Managers in Building Accountability and Transparency Within the Project

    Project status review meetings can be done in multiple ways, including in-person meetings and conference calls. But, it is, crucial for you to conduct project status review meetings where all the team members are present at the same time. This helps in building accountability and transparency within the project. Team members are more motivated and are more likely to complete their tasks on time if they know that they will have to admit their lack of progress in front of their peers.

    Try recollecting your early days as software developers when you were in the middle of creating a class library for your application which could be reused in other similar projects in the domain, and you really hated the idea of joining a status update meeting called by your project manager since it disturbed your flow of logical thoughts. But weren't you motivated to deliver within the given time frame, when you knew you had to give your status update in front of other team members? I am sure you were.
  3. Project Status Meetings Help in Brainstorming Solutions as a Team

    Project status meetings can be effectively used to review the project status, which is collected from team members. However, project managers can make the best use of such meetings if they can leverage the collective wisdom of the group in solving problems. Meetings such as these should not just be used to collect status and review them.

    These meetings can add real value to the project if you can brainstorm solutions as a team, besides reviewing the status collected. This way, project managers can ensure that all the team members who have gathered in the meeting room are actually getting real information in the meeting as well as collectively working towards issue resolutions. You could try harnessing your teams potential in collectively resolving problems, in the next status meeting, if you haven't done that already.
  4. Project Status Meetings Help the Project Manager in Building Trust in the Team

    You could utilize team status meetings to build trust within your teams. These status meetings are very good forums where the accomplishments and skills of team members can be highlighted, mutual respect amongst team members can be nurtured, and cycles of distrust within the organization can be broken. During these status meetings, team members can learn what others are doing, how much they have accomplished, and how the tasks of the other team members can affect their own.

    This builds teamwork and helps in building trust amongst the team members. You could use these status meetings to highlight the accomplishment of some of your team members which could include completion of a complex deliverable within the schedule and budget, an innovative approach used by a team member in resolving a problem, etc. besides others.
  5. Project Status Meetings Help the Project Manager in Reinforcing Key Points and Provide Early Coaching

    Good project managers are aware of the project status even before the status meeting. They use these team status meeting to move the project forward and coach the team members on key issues that are affecting their deliverables and in turn, affecting the project. One of the biggest challenges in Medilyn Pricing Tool project was the business rules extraction process where we needed to extract the business rules from the existing Visual Basic application and use them in building the new application in NET technology.

    Some of my team members who are entrusted with this task were not following the proper procedures for extracting the business rules and had, therefore, received a lot of reworks after document reviews. This had delayed the entire schedule by about a week. However, after spending a few minutes of my meeting time in coaching my team members, I could help them in developing a better understanding of the business rules extraction procedures and also help them see the real value behind extracting the business rules. It helped my team in reducing their reworks to a large extent and bring the project back on track.

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Project status meetings are powerful tools which could help you in managing your projects successfully. However, as active project managers, you should use these status meetings to go beyond merely collecting and reviewing status updates from team members. These meetings could add real value to your projects if you are able to harness the collective potential of your team members in resolving issues, coach the team members on issues which are affecting their deliverables, reinforce key points and move the project forward.

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