Posts Tagged ‘Issues’

PostHeaderIcon Making Team Meetings Productive

Avoid a Disappointing Outcome

Much time can go to waste in project review meetings. Mostly this is due to: (a) poor agendas, (b) poor control and (c) poor preparation. The project manager has responsibility for each of these and should recognize each meeting as an opportunity to improve project performance, enhance personal credibility and motivate the team – all as timely and efficiently as possible.

A fine balancing act is typically needed in maintaining meeting focus on project status while ensuring an appropriate environment to re-align the team and foster a positive outlook. Here are some guidelines to keep meetings productive, on-point and on-track.

Agenda

Set a clear agenda and stick to it-
e.g. Review the:

  • Schedule
  • Changes
  • Issues
  • Risks

Preparation

Ready the data before the meeting-

  • Don’t waste valuable meeting time getting status updates from team members. Collect this information one day beforehand to allow time for updating the schedule, analyzing variances and identifying specific items needing team review, all in advance of the meeting. Provide team members with any pre-reading that could reduce meeting duration.

Attendance

Make attendance mandatory-

  • Allowing members to skip meetings without a really good reason will hamper decision-making, dilute communication and weaken the team. Ask the Sponsor to send out a message reinforcing expectations on attendance – and let him/her know how well they’re being met.

Focus

Keep meetings relevant and concise-

  • Keep control of discussions, stick to the agenda, ensure cell-phones stay off and stop any side-conversations promptly. Actively solicit inputs from the team on their perspectives of likelihood of success – and probe any concerns thoroughly. Secure clear commitments on actions and due dates.

Approach

Rigid or relaxed to suit the culture–

  • It’s a subtle thing but get it wrong and your perceived credibility as an effective leader will be impacted…as will the team’s motivation and commitment. Some cultures respond better to informal meetings, lots of humor and a relaxed environment than others. Know your team members and your organization’s culture.

Virtual Teams

Additional considerations-

  • If the team includes foreigners, speak slowly and avoid using idioms. (Obvious perhaps, but rampantly ignored). If time zone differences are severe, consider rotating weekly meeting times to spread the pain of early morning or late night calls. Consider asking virtual participants to connect into the meeting individually and separately to avoid the risk of co-located groups getting into their own side-conversations while ‘on mute’.

Gratitude

Give thanks-

  • Be sure to take time to express appreciation for any and all noteworthy efforts honestly, openly and consistently. Whether for the efforts of a single individual or a group, conveying words of thanks and using simple positive reinforcement rewards are powerful motivators.

PostHeaderIcon Ten Vital Items for Project Progress Reports

There are countless variations on content for project progress reports but there are ten items that should be on every report:

1 – Business Context
Why does this project exist?
Briefly summarize the desired business outcomes as a reminder to all of the rationale for doing the project – and include the names of the sponsor and customer.

2 – Objectives
What are the project’s tactical objectives?
Always keep the schedule, scope and resource goals in view. The Project Objective Statement provides a concise way of describing these.

3 – Flexibility Matrix
Which is least flexible – schedule, scope, resources?
Reflect the Flexibility Matrix on the report to remind stakeholders of the project priorities.

4 – Schedule
What is the schedule performance of the project?
Identify variance of current progress and forecasts against the baseline schedule for key milestones, phases and/or deliverables. Better yet, include performance trends over the past few reporting periods.

5 – Cost/Resources
Is the project meeting cost and/or staffing targets?
Point out significant variances with the plan such as staffing shortfalls or cost overruns.

6 – Risks
What significant risks exist?
Highlight those risks of highest severity and in particular those with high impact that may occur soon.

7 – Issues
What significant issues remain unresolved?
Identify the key issues and what is preventing their resolution.

8 – Changes
What changes have occurred?
Identify any major changes that were approved and/or implemented since the last progress report.

9 – Accomplishments
What has been achieved?
Capture the most important recent accomplishments such as completed deliverables, milestones that were met, or finished major work components.

10 – Next Steps
What major components of work remain?
Indicate what the focus will be for the immediate future and set expectations of what will be reported on in the next progress report.

Configuring these vital ten into a 1-page format is ideal for executive presentation. These items are of course in addition to the more obvious title and subtitle mentions of project name, report date and author/project manager name. (Surprising how often the obvious gets overlooked).