Weekly status meetings are a great PM tool. They keep the PM in touch with the client and show commitment to the project because the time is reserved, every week, to discuss the project. The status meetings provide a way to review the project progress, next steps, and assign tasks to the appropriate people. They are also great for reviewing any risks to the project before they become problems that can negatively impact the project. Status meetings for the internal core team can also be useful to make sure project progress is on track. It’s easy to see how this regular communication can facilitate effective project processes, so it does make you wonder when you see project managers canceling these super-important meetings.
Usually before the meeting cancellation arrives you hear something like:
“I talked to the client 3 times this week already so there’s really nothing left to discuss”
“No progress has been made this week because the client has been at a conference so there is nothing new to report on”
“The client still didn’t return feedback on that design document so there is no need to have a meeting to review it”
It might seem logical to cancel the meeting given the reasons above, but this can actually make the situation worse. The project could be at a busy stage or a critical point or going through a crisis, which is why the PM has already been speaking with the client so frequently. That’s a good reason to have a meeting to re-cap on project status. It may be that the project is stalled which is why the PM hasn’t received feedback on a deliverable. This is also a good reason to check in on the project status. Canceling the status meeting takes away the chance to ask the client how to help manage the crises, or figure out how to get back on track after a delay. The very fact that there is no progress to discuss is a good reason to have the meeting. Canceling not only takes away the opportunity to figure out a way to get things turned around or ensure they continue to go smoothly (whichever the case may be), it also takes away accountability for the project since nobody has to show up to discuss it.
It’s only 30 minutes week on the calendar – if there’s nothing to discuss everyone gets 25 of those back while still helping to ensure that the project stays on track.