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How to manage a project progress meeting

Have you ever attended a meeting that had just a rough outline of an agenda, or no agenda at all?

Whatever type of project meeting you are holding there should always be an agenda distributed beforehand to the participants.

Never just ask someone for information in the meeting – everyone needs time to prepare the right data to ensure an accurate update of project progress is delivered.
But as the project manager you need to remember that a progress meeting is what it says and you need to remind the attendees of this fact, if necessary. A progress meeting is not a time to air grievances, raise change requests or listen to the technical minutiae of an ongoing problem.

A progress meeting should be brief (so book the meeting room for a limited amount of time – probably no longer than an hour) and everyone should understand it's objective, which is simply an update on where the project stands with respect to its schedule and any issues affecting progress.

Any issues requiring detailed discussion should be deferred to another meeting where you can discuss the specifics with only those people affected.

So here are some tips to help you manage and control your next project progress meeting:

1.  Write an agenda and distribute it beforehand

Even if this is one of many such meetings an agenda is a reminder to the participants just what the meeting is intended to cover and what is expected of them. It gives everyone time to gather the progress information they need to provide at the meeting.

2.   Repeat the objective

The agenda should be a reminder of the aim of the meeting but state the aims again at the beginning of the meeting and during the meeting if discussions are veering off topic.

3.  Review progress and future actions
Review the progress from the last meeting and actions for the next period. On a large and mature project it might be possible to do this by exception.

4.  Stay focused
Stay focused on discussing progress updates, assigning actions or revising the schedule where necessary. Do not deal with any unrelated issues – defer them instead to another meeting.

5.  Allow everyone a chance to speak
Nobody wants to sit in a meeting listening to one person dominating the conversation so limit the time any one person is allowed to speak by moving the meeting along to the next topic.

6.  Avoid boredom
Nothing will be achieved if people are not engaging in the meeting so keep meetings to an hour or less to avoid boredom setting in.

7.  Assign actions
Assign follow-up actions specifically to an individual with an expected completion date. Whoever is recording the meeting minutes should also create an action plan.

8.  Summary
At the end of the progress meeting summarise what has been discussed, what actions have been assigned, and to whom, and set a date for the next progress meeting.

Following these simple steps will ensure your meetings achieve something and are a good use of everyone's time.


This is a Project Management Fundamentals blog written and sponsored by Parallel Project Training. For more about our project management training courses visit my  Google+ profile.

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  1. Priyanka Chakraborty
    Priyanka Chakraborty 03 August 2016, 11:31 AM

    Nice article.....however, apart from this, as a project manager you should always have a list of things that we must avoid during the project progress meetings like grievances, change requests and technical minutae. A progress meeting should be a kind of flash update on all aspects of project progress, including a summary of any issues that are affecting that progress. Make sure that you cover all of these aspects and keep the things simple. Refer here for further details - http://bit.ly/2aziguc

  2. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 01 May 2015, 09:36 AM

      Progress meetings that are called to find out what progress has occurred are a complete waste of time.  Determining what progress has been achieved is a series of one-on-one discussion between either the project manager and a ‘person’. or if the PM is sensible, a project controls person and a 'person' (PMs should have better things to do). This process gathers DATA. The once all of the information has been gathered, analysis is required to understand the cause and the effect, this involves the controls person and the PM and possibly one or two other key players. Now you have INFORMATION.The next step is using the information to make decisions and plan actions - this is primarily the role of the PM. The outcome may be decisions or options for discussion.Now you know what the situation is, have identified opportunities and the potential solutions to problems and that can be locked in you may want to call a meeting to discuss the information, agree the actions and to motivate the attendees to perform. At this point there may be value in a meeting and Paul’s framework should be applied to make it an efficient meeting. But the time required should be 15 to 30 minutes.  For more on effective meetings see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1075_Meetings.pdf