Business man planning project SteerCo

How to prepare for a project steering committee

If you are managing a project, it is a high probability that you will have a regular project steering committee (sometimes known as SteerCo), to provide governance and direction.  It might be that your project is governed in a programme so the SteerCo will be at the programme level.  Either way, your project will (must) be governed correctly.

The project (or programme) SteerCo will typically take place on a monthly basis.  There are exceptions such as critical projects with a short timescale.  However, monthly is the common standard.

Question

How do you ensure that you maximise the benefit for all stakeholders, this includes the project and you, at the SteerCo?

 

Very simply you must ensure that you prepare for each SteerCo and not leave it until the last minute.

Agenda

There should be an agenda for each SteerCo.  This will consist of standing items such as project status, financials, risks & issues, etc as well as ad-hoc, sometimes known as spotlight items.

A spotlight is where a specific update / information needs to be provided to, or at the request, of the SteerCo members.

 

It is important that the agenda is prepared at least 2 weeks before the meeting.  It should then be reviewed with the sponsor / SteerCo chair to ensure it provides what the SteerCo wants to cover.

It might be that a request was made at a previous SteerCo meeting.  If so then the item can be added.

 

Getting the agenda agreed at least 2 weeks before the meeting should allow sufficient time to prepare the material.  This is especially important if a spotlight means that a specific paper needs to be produced.

Actions

It is important to keep a record of each meeting including capturing actions.

 

Make sure that the actions are reviewed at least 2 weeks ahead of the SteerCo.  This allows for updates to be chased and, quite often, allows time for action owners to close out the action ahead of the SteerCo.

 

If you wait until a day or so before the meeting or, even worse, at the SteerCo, you will find in a lot of cases that the actions have not been progressed.  It is not helpful to see actions rolling from meeting to meeting.

Meeting Pack Review

It is important that the meeting pack is prepared in good time so that it can be published at least 24 business hours, ideally 48 business hours ahead of the SteerCo.

 

The pack must be reviewed by the team to ensure the accuracy and quality.  This includes checking against the agreed agenda.

 

However, it is critical that the pack is also reviewed with the sponsor before it is published.  You do not want the actual meeting to be the first point the sponsor sees the information, especially of they do not agree with what has been included.

 

This review can be a challenge as senior sponsors are usually very busy.  So make sure that you have booked the review meetings for the pack (and agenda) early so you have the time secured in the sponsors schedule.

Room Bookings

While there has been an increase in virtual meetings and conference calls for many project meetings, the SteerCo will normally be held in a meeting room with only those unable to attend in person joining remotely.

 

This means that the meeting rooms must be pre-booked to ensure that they are available.  In many organisations, rooms are at a premium so booking early is a must.

 

Ideally you should place your room bookings for the entire year (or required period).

 

It is also sensible to ensure that the room is the correct size and offers the facilities that you will need, especially if you will be using audio and VC.

 

Make sure that all of the room details and remote access details are included in the meeting invite.

Summary

Following the simple, practical advice above can make the difference between your SteerCo going well or not.

 

The advice is not complicated and really comes down to preparation.

 

This is where a good PMO can really excel as they will be able to take the entire process and manage it so everything happens when required.

 

Check out the article on the Importance of Meeting Logisics as this has more tips that will help your SteerCo (or any project meeting to go well!