Overview with tools, software, best practices and alternatives

What are status meetings?

Status meetings are tools for the project manager for monitoring the project, for developing his team, and for identifying key critical areas of project progress. Status meetings equalize the pressure between all members of the project team by allowing each member to share in the burden of others. If a team member feels the extra pressure from unforeseen circumstances that crops up in his or her own assigned task, other team members could lighten that load by making adjustments and taking remedial actions along the course of a status meeting agenda. It is not just an update of the current status of a project, it is also a remedial tool for addressing negative factors in the project. Like a wart growing unnoticed until firmly established, negative factors, can seriously derail a project’s progress. Project managers can spot this factors in due time and discern the limitations of the team as far as project development is concerned. Mutual respect should be a key milestone in a project teams growth. And status meetings provide the apt venue for the growth of mutual respect among team members. A project team with fluid relations with each other fostered by respect mitigates the effects of another project bottleneck or another lapse in the decision making process. Both project manager and project team then makes use of status meetings as progressive instruments that reinforce critical areas of the project. Indecision can sometimes affect the morale of the whole team and it often comes when there’s a terrible lack of communication and interaction among the team members. Status meetings provide the venue for making key decisions on pertinent matters.

Who participates in Status meetings and why?

All concerned parties of a certain project participate in a status meeting. Client, stakeholders, project managers and project team members, are all participants in a status meeting. The project manager is the one who facilitates the progress of the meeting. He is the one who plans the agenda and purpose of the status meeting. The client and stakeholders are there for status updates and for possible additional inputs. Project team members are the sources of valuable information regarding project progress. The project manager calls a status meeting for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Project status update
  • Guidance of project team towards goals
  • For identifying potential project bottlenecks
  • To ensure that the project stays on track and within original quote
  • Generate ideas between all parties involved particularly client
  • Misencounters between involved parties can be avoided

How to conduct Status Meetings?

Every status meeting participant should have some level of preparedness before actually attending. The project manager must make sure of this by communicating with all of them even before the actual meeting. During the status meeting proper, roll calls are important especially for remote workers. Every one on the team should be conscious of each others time. Ignore questions about unrelated matters so that the meeting sticks to allotted time schedule. All participants should be informed of the details prior to the status meeting – details like time schedule, attendees list and their functions, status meeting goals, locations and possibly attires. Documentation is also necessary.

Advantages and Disadvantages of conducting Status Meetings

Every status meeting involves an information and idea exchange between members of the project team,client and probably stakeholders. What is not known by one can be known from another. In this manner, key issues come to the fore as matters to be addressed. Weaknesses can be identified and reinforced. Injury lessened, and bottlenecks cleared. But a status meeting can also be a drag on the team’s productive quota if miscalled and malperformed. There’s no denying the fact that some status meetings are so bad that they:

  • Drag on endlessly and meaninglessly
  • Has no direction and no goals
  • Lacking in prior information

Best Ways to do Status Meetings

These bad circumstances can be avoided if project managers, obviously, do the opposite. In addition, project managers , in order to implement a good design for a status meeting should have beforehand identified the key issues to be discussed and the details of the current status of the project. Preparedness is very important and this is accomplished by informing everyone on the team about the status meeting to be held. If needs be, reduce the time allotted to members who pontificate. Project managers should stick to the time schedule and respect other team members’ time. Misunderstandings can be avoided by encouraging questions and answering between team members. This is also an opportunity for the project manager to highlight the key issues that needs understanding and needing some actions.

Teamreporter as an effective tool for Status Meetings

One simple to operate tool that a project manager can use in preparing and conducting status meetings is Teamreporter. Teamreporter is a web based email app that automates and gives structure to status reports that remote working teams need to emphasize to their project manager.Teamreporter has easy to manage interfaces, and is accessible with a simple registration process. In just a few short steps, one can be managing his Teamreporter app already. Here’s what Teamreporter does:

  • Creating questions that the team members will answer.
  • Scheduling the sending out of email queries for specific or all members
  • Scheduling of team status updates to every team member.
  • Adopting preset business scenarios.
  • Prompting team members who forget their reports.
  • Arranging an archive of team status reports

It has the following advantages:

  • Ready in 5 minutes
  • Free startup
  • Accessible even to novice users and managers
  • No IT software or hardware requirements
  • Only email login required for team members

Some popular alternatives to Status meetings

Without status meetings, a project team has other tools to resort to including the Teamreporter app mentioned above. Add to that, there’s Skype, Conference calls, Videochats, Google Hangouts and many others, mostly web based applications. These methods can be described as the virtual versions of a regular status meeting. They take the essence of the practice of Status meetings and apply and integrate that philosophy into their own methods.

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Teamreporter is free for small teams (up to 4 members)