Guest Blog Post by Fidelis Esemene PMP

How to conduct effective construction project meetings can be a tall order because Construction projects could be very complex to manage due to the many different trades involved in the execution of such projects. Managing infrastructural projects like sewage treatment plants, power generation, telecommunication, transportation or building project will involve several disciplines and skill sets that will need to work together effectively in order to achieve the goal of the project.

One mean of ensuring that a project remains on focus to produce the required result is by conducting a progress meeting in which key contributors in the project will be present to listen and make meaningful contributions to avoid the project being derailed. Such derailment could lead to cost over-run, time over-run, quality issues and even abandonment of the project.

Therefore, progress meetings are a necessity in construction projects and should be held weekly or bi-weekly basis depending on the complexity of the project – more complex projects require frequent meetings than the less complex ones. Such meeting could be in the form of status meeting, project review meeting or production meeting, project progress meeting.

The names could mean the same in some cases while in other cases it could be different. For example, the internal contractor’s meeting with member of its team could be termed production meeting while that involving the contractor, subcontractor and client or consultant could be termed project progress meeting. This progress can also be handled in a way that the meeting with the consultant can be called weekly progress while if the client/employer is involved, it could be referred to as monthly progress meeting depending on the term of the contract.

The main function of these meetings is to identify deviations from the project and proffer immediate corrective action plan towards achieving a resolution to solving the problem. Participants at the meetings discuss the progress of the project, the current and anticipated problem and opportunities that can be harnessed for the progress of the project

The construction progress meetings are held principally for the following reasons:

  • Monitoring the progress of the project
  • Reviewing of change order, RFI, Submittals
  • Reviewing of Two Weeks Lookahead
  • Understanding challenges and proffer solution
  • Reviewing HSE, Environmental and Social issues

To have an effective progress meeting, the following must be avoided:

  • Poorly prepared agenda
  • Poor time management during the meeting
  • Disrespect of any member of the attendees
  • Poorly prepared progress information
  • Long hour meeting

For a construction meeting to be considered effective, it is necessary for the Project Manager to put the following into consideration:

  • Maintain punctuality: When a meeting is schedule for a particular time, all attendees should be seated for the meeting on or before time. Waiting for anyone who has no reason to be late should be avoided thus, the meeting should progress with the available people.
  • Taking control of the topic: Some people tend to bring up issues that are not related to a particular topic into the discussion. The Project Manager or the facilitator of the meeting should not allow such individual to veer the meeting off topic. Take charge and let the speaker know that he is veering off topic and redirect the person to the topic of the discussion.
  • Know and document action item: the progress meeting is not just to discuss issues and hope that challenges will be overcome. actionable items discussed in the meeting must be documented and responsibility assigned to the right person to manage the issue and give feedback on a specific date. This should be followed up by the facilitator in order to put the responsible person on his toe and to be more responsive to assigned task. No further discussion is necessary on a particular issue that has been assigned to a name. This is to save time on issues within the meeting time.
  • Taking control of speakers: Some persons are more forceful and domineering than others when in a progress meeting due to positions, responsibilities and influence. Such persons will want to exert an overbearing power and influence over the meeting and on the opinion of others. The Project Manager or Facilitator should be weary of such individual and not allow such influence be an intimidating factor against other attendees who might feel intimidated or subconsciously demoralized by such persons
  • Asking questions: the facilitation or Project Manager should ask questions especially to attendees that are not contributing to the meeting. Such will help to resolve the problem encountered when an influential and intimidating individual as described above is involved.
  • Playing devil’s advocate: the essence of the progress meeting is to understand the present status of the project, understand challenges and proffer solutions. When such challenges and solutions are not forth coming, the Project Manager has to play the devil’s advocate in order to get out the challenges or solutions from the attendees who are also team members in the project.

In order to make the effort of organizing the meeting worthwhile, the Project Manager or meeting convener must document the outcome of the meeting with action point clearly identifies and responsible person duly noted. The date for the next meeting should be written in the minute for the meeting. This minutes should be sent electronically to each attendee of the meeting not later than the day after the meeting.

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