I know a certain Project Manager (PM) I will refer to as “Bob.”
Bob knows as a PM, he must be prepared for each project meeting that includes the client, for that is the meeting where the client receives an update on how well or not so well the project is progressing. However, Bob must make sure that the project team is on the same page in delivering the message to the client. There must be news of progress or at least news that the client needs to hear and/or make a decision. So Bob decides to have a pre-status meeting with his team to ensure that the message delivered to the client is understood by the team first. So what should Bob do to prepare for the pre-status meeting?
Ensure that the pre-status meeting is on point and brief
Preparing for the pre-status meeting is almost as important as preparing for the client meeting, mainly because the project team members need updates from each other as much as they need to update the client. First, Bob must ensure that this meeting is no longer than 30 to 45 minutes because the project team members must get back to delivering tasks for this project. So the first rule for both this meeting and the client meeting is to not make this a solution meeting but keep it as a status meeting. That does not mean that some decisions can’t be made. Once again, I cannot stress enough that the project status meeting stays just that, a status meeting. If the project team members begin addressing the issue with possible solutions, this may lead to disagreement and an uncomfortable feeling by the client. However, most decisions will be about what to present to the client as the next steps if a risk has become an issue. The point here is to have the project team update Bob on their progress on their tasks and to present any new risks or to inform Bob of any issues that have arisen. If an issue has arisen, Bob will not wait until the status meeting to inform the client, as we do not like to present surprises, especially bad ones.
Ensure that all project team members understand the message to the client
Bob guides his project team so that everyone is on the same page, and when the status is delivered to the client, it is one unified message. What the client does not want to see is disparity and disruption among project team members, which diminishes the client’s comfort level and trust in Bob and the project team. Even if Bob has to deliver bad news before or during the client meeting, the whole team is made aware of the message and the solution to the issue or a path to a solution. You see, even if there is bad news, the client wants to hear that the issue is being tended to by the entire team and that they are of the same mind. When this happens, the client may not like that a new issue has arisen, but has the comfort level that it is being addressed by Bob and the project team.
Ensure that the project status meeting
Unless an unexpected surprise pops up just before the client status meeting, the status meeting should have an agenda, a status report, a review of issues and if there is a new issue, what has been found and the next steps. Bob must be in control of this meeting or he will lose the client’s confidence. That is not what Bob’s management wants to see or hear from the client. Bob’s leadership qualities must be used in full-effect as to convey control and a smooth process.
As I stated earlier, there may be a surprise just before the status meeting, but since Bob has the control the client wants to see, those surprises are few and quickly fixed. Having the client’s best interest in mind is what the client wants to see, and the client wants to see that the project is under control. Bob ensures this with a pre-status meeting with his project team.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.