- Effective status meetings can reduce schedule delays, enhance progress visibility and improve accountability among the team.
- But they are often hard to do well, and easy to do badly.
- Here are 10 tried and true ways that construction project managers and project engineers use to run successful status meetings.
- Watch our on-demand webinar with AEC firm Ryan Companies, What It Takes to Run a Great Hybrid Meeting in Construction: Quick Tips.
10 Ways to Raise the Bar at Your Next Project Status Review Meeting
First of all, What does a project manager need to achieve during a status review?
Project status review meetings are integral to meeting the client’s needs of finishing the project on time, on budget and with good quality. They are an essential part of a team's ability to quickly make adjustments to achieve project goals, accurately report progress, and control the timing of project phases.
Some goals of a status review meeting should include:
Identify early warning signs
Make decisions that keep the project moving ahead
Review and control budget
Ensure transparent communication across stakeholders
Harness everyone’s talents in a time-effective manner
With so much at stake, status review meetings are a weekly (if not daily) part of life for construction project managers.
10 Tactics for running a successful construction project status review meeting
#1: Review the project schedule status so the team can understand the impact of delays or opportunities presented by completing work ahead of schedule.
#2: Go over the project scope status. Explain how much work is completed, emphasizing significant project milestones (e.g., the project is 85 percent complete, and our next focus is on quality assurance.)
#3: Share the project budget status. Let the team know how much has been spent compared to the plan.
#4: Discuss issues and risks. Risks need to be continually assessed and communicated. During this part of the meeting, invite the team to raise problems, questions and concerns to be managed.
#5: Ask for team member updates. This agenda item gives everyone on the project time to share thoughts and comments about the project that have not been covered elsewhere.
#6: Focus language around what needs to be done and what can be controlled or managed. Focus less on what has been done and what went wrong since the last meeting. (Venting is doable in an email or phone call; it could tank an in-person meeting.
#7: Set protocols for every meeting. These could include:
No interrupting. You must be recognized to contribute
No talking over people or having side discussions
No looking at your phone — unless you need it for information relevant to the meeting
#8: Restate any decisions that are made so the team understands what is going on. Never assume that everyone heard what you heard. Don’t assume silence equals comprehension.
#9: End the meeting with a summary of all actions decided, including who is going to do what and when.
#10: The most important tactic of all: Enter your meeting with good quality and timely data. Without this, you can follow all of the other tips and your meeting will be a waste of time and unfruitful.
It is impossible to run a successful status review meeting without reliable data
The importance of quality and timely data can’t be overstated. According to Autodesk's Construction Data and Analytics Report, one-third of poor decisions were made as a result of bad data, which may have cost the global construction industry over $1.84 trillion in 2020.
In a recent webinar poll of construction project managers, Trimble Viewpoint found that the biggest challenge given when it came to reporting and accessing data was determining its quality. They weren’t sure if their reports accurately reflected the true nature of what was going on.
They aren’t alone in this concern. With the volume of project data doubling in the last three years, many are finding it challenging to manage while using increasingly outdated methods of reporting. Too many project managers are waiting for written reports to be delivered, using multiple databases and spreadsheets to house information, and manually reporting with code-intensive systems.
If this sounds familiar, it might be time for a new way to manage data.
Create a data game plan
Data has the power to change the construction industry for the better — but only if it’s properly used. Teams relying on manual methods of tracking run the risk of disjointed communications, siloed data and failure to unify tracking of the entire project. What’s the solution? Put in place systems that offer real-time insights into your construction project.
Ready to make a game plan for tracking construction progress in real time? Improve progress tracking in these areas:
Establish a single source of truth. Your construction document management system is the foundation of your progress tracking system. They should connect and integrate so all information is accurate and up to date. The same is true of your communication among stakeholders. Choose one platform to host conversations so everything can be found in one central system.
Track workflows. Setting up platforms to track processes and workflows is key to streamlining construction progress tracking and staying on schedule. Consider setting up:
Submittals. Software can automate the creation of submittal logs so you can easily track the review process with stakeholders.
RFIs. To avoid unanswered requests for information that could slow down the process, standardize with technology made to track them.
Track tasks. Without a method for tracking tasks, it can be difficult to stay on top of individual construction task progress. Choose a task tracking solution that lets you see the big and small moving pieces of the project.
Track schedules. Scheduling software can make it easy to keep track of daily tasks and key milestones. This is especially important when navigating ever-changing construction projects.
Track field productivity. For true data tracking, it’s vital to know what’s happening day to day in the field. Are the plans being executed as expected or have there been delays? Stay in the know with field productivity tracking software that offers daily field reports.
Organize and integrate photo documentation. Project photos give you a visual record of progress. Adopt a system that lets you take, categorize and organize project photos. Solutions with GPS tagging even let you populate photos in your plans and documents.
If you can’t implement tracking of all of the above at once, start by focusing on improving progress in one area at a time. To learn more about running effective meetings as a construction project manager, be sure to watch Constructible's on-demand webinar -- What It Takes to Run a Great Hybrid Meeting in Construction: Quick Tips with Ryan Companies.