When you’re updating clients, it’s essential to have a well-planned meeting agenda to make sure you cover all the essentials and make the best use of both your time and your client’s time. Ongoing projects require regular client update meetings, which are best used to discuss progress. You should also take the opportunity to discuss any concerns you might have bout the project’s budget and scope.
Preparing for a Client Update Meeting
Building a meeting agenda requires some advance preparation on your end of things. You should start by sitting down with key team members and holding an internal discussion that answers the following questions:
- Is the project progressing on schedule? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?
- Is the project still within its projected budget?
- Is the project growing or shrinking in scope as you work on it? If so, why?
- What solutions can you offer for any disparities in schedule, budget and/or project scope?
Be sure to hold this internal get-together at least 48 hours in advance of the client update meeting to give you enough time to brainstorm possible solutions to any problems you’re having with the project.
Constructing an Effective Client Update Meeting Agenda
After your internal meeting, you’ll have a clear idea where things stand with the project. Use your discoveries to shape your agenda while keeping these important principles and pointers in mind:
- Be prepared to keep an accurate record of what was said. The best way to do this is to digitally record the minutes of the client update meeting.
- Take advantage of online meeting planner/scheduling tools, such as NeedToMeet, Doodle, ScheduleMAX, or TimeBridge. Not only will such software help you plan an effective meeting, but some will also make it easy to create, present, and maintain a shared version of the meeting agenda for virtual participants.
Then, proceed to create your agenda. A good sample agenda might break down like this:
- Project status. Discuss where you are with the project, compared to where you anticipated you would be. Are you behind, right on schedule, or ahead of schedule?
- Budget and scope updates. Let the client know whether or not the project is still on budget, and whether or not its scope is still within the range you originally anticipated.
- Discussion. If you’re behind schedule, or if the budget and/or scope of the project are expanding beyond initial expectations, explain why. Allow the client to respond in turn, and have a proactive, bilateral discussion about what should be done.
- Agree on the “next steps.” If things are going smoothly, simply inform the client of what you’ll be doing to move the project forward between now and the next update meeting. If the project is facing significant problems, you may need to hold a dedicated meeting to brainstorm solutions. If so, now is the time to schedule that meeting. Generally speaking, you should avoid getting into such discussions during the client update meeting, unless you’ve covered everything on your agenda and you have time left over. Make sure all key personnel are present to participate in any such discussion. If they’re not, schedule a new meeting for a time when they can be included.
- Recap the essentials. Conclude by going over what was discussed during the meeting to make sure both parties are on the same page going forward.
Use meeting agenda templates and other tools to help you. These tools are part of any good meeting software package, including those mentioned above. You can also find many free examples online.