SteerCo Meeting Explained in 5 Simple Terms

What is a SteerCo Meeting? Find out in this guide

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What is a SteerCo meeting? Why is it important? If these questions bug you, or if you want to dive deeper and understand the truth, you are in the right place. In this brief post, I will explain everything that you need to know about a SteerCo meeting.

Knowing all the secrets of a SteerCo meeting is important for project managers and all the project staff. If you know that, you have better tool to understand what is going on with your project and be sure that it does not fail miserably.

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What is a SteerCo Meeting?

A SteerCo meeting is a meeting of the SteerCo, or Steering Committee. It is a meeting where the steering committee members meet to steer a project in the proper direction. This type of meeting generally happens quarterly, or even just twice a year – depending on the type of project.

SteerCo Meeting is a meeting where directors steer a large project in the right direction, much like a captain would steer a large container ship
Directors steer projects like captains steer mercantile ships.

I say steer because the SteerCo effectively steers the project much like a large ship. This analogy is so nice because the ship is large and needs time to adjust to the new route. And, on top of that, a small input from the captain can redirect a ship weighting thousands of tons in a completely different direction. Here, the massive ship represents a complex project where many people are working and where costs are important.

The same is true for SteerCo meeting. They are relatively brief, and the members have the opportunity to give small inputs to create big changes in the route. They happen relatively infrequently precisely because the project (like the ship) will need some time to adjust.

So, in short, a SteerCo meeting can make or break your project. It can literally kill it, canceling it, or it can expand it. It is your opportunity to shine under the corporate spotlight.

Who Participates in a SteerCo meeting?

Of course, in a SteerCo meeting you will see the members of the steering committee. This is a group of people that is given full authority over the project in its early stages.

While being appointed to the steering committee may be a formal project in some companies, it is generally informal. People are not appointed as members of the SteerCo, they just happen to be. This happens in the most natural way, with the project manager setting SteerCo meetings and inviting who she seems reasonable members of that committee.

Of course, the project manager will be most likely below all of the SteerCo members, so for this invitation to work she needs to have a sponsor that is at the same level of the people in the SteerCo, if not higher.

People involved in this way are the directors or VPs of the functions or divisions involved in the project. So, a large project that impacts IT, Finance, and HR will have the IT Director, Finance Director, and HR Director in its SteerCo. If HR is taking the lead for the project, the project manager will have some trust with the HR Director so that she can invite the other directors – and having them to attend.

What happens in a SteerCo meeting?

During a meeting of the steering committee, the members are presented with the status of the project, attention points, and may be asked to make some decisions. Typically, the project manager will run the SteerCo meeting.

This is because the SteerCo meeting serves two entities: the steering committee, and the project itself. We should never forget that, in the end, the goal of this meeting is to ensure the success of the project, and to ensure it continues to meet organizational goals.

Because of this, the project manager will typically present the status compared against a baseline. That is, how much the project is spending versus how much the project was expected to spend at this point, and what we accomplished so far versus what we expected to accomplish by now.

In practical terms, this means running a deck of a few slides – generally around 5 to present all of this. If there are some potential issues or opportunities, the project manager should highlight them so that everyone is aware. For some, he may ask some guidance from the steering committee.

Be aware that the steering committee is generally not an open discussion: it is so Machiavellian that everything is planned in advance. As a result, the project manager should use this meeting to let directors and VP talk with each other and escalate on each other, but without any surprise.

How often should I hold a SteerCo meeting?

If you are starting out as a project manager, or if you always worked on small projects not requiring a SteerCo, you may wonder what the best schedule for SteerCo meetings is. Obviously, there is no answer that will be right 100% of the times, but there are some guidelines you should follow.

You should start with the quarter. In fact, SteerCo meetings tend to happen quarterly. This is not always true, some projects may need steering committee members to meet monthly, or just twice a year, or anything in between. Taking the quarterly schedule as a reference (one meeting every 3 months), how do we adjust to a different schedule?

A tighter schedule means a tighter control from directors, and a way faster feedback loop. This is important when there is no room for error, and the project is super critical for the organization. In that case, you may also want to consider the possibility to call ad-hoc SteerCo meeting on the spot when something urgent happens.

On the other hand, a looser schedule may be ideal when the project is not particularly critical, or when steering actions take a lot of time to be implemented and produce visible results. If the SteerCo indicates a direction, but in order for it to materialize 6 months will have to pass, there would be no need to meet again before those 6 months.

To better assess the schedule you should pick, consider your authority as a project manager, and what decisions can be taken at lower level in the organization rather than directors and VP. Think how long you can go on with decisions at this level – the more power is down in the organizational chart, the lesser you will need SteerCo meetings. In most extreme cases, you may just want to regularly update via email and take a meet & greet meeting at the end of the year (if everything went according to plans).

How long is a SteerCo meeting?

In a SteerCo meeting, you will involve many directors and some VPs – people whose time is precious for the organization. Because of this, I found that the perfect duration for a SteerCo meeting is 30 minutes. Anything less, you may be unable to say everything that you want to say, or you may lose half the meeting waiting people to join. Anything more, and people will leave earlier anyway, or they will be just plain unavailable.

So, a SteerCo meeting should last 30 minutes, and you should train yourself to say everything you need to say in 20 minutes only. This way, you leave 10 minutes for questions or people joining late or leaving early. It does not mean you have to cram what you would say in 30 minutes in just 20, or that you have to speak faster. It means you have to carefully select what to say, and what is unimportant.

How to plan for a SteerCo meeting?

Planning a SteerCo meeting is not that hard after all. First, select the stakeholders to invite and be sure to include everyone. Since it is an important meeting, you may want to double-check the meeting invitation you are sending – a few times. For this, you may want to check Outlook delayed delivery feature.

In the invitation, you want to be clear about the goal of the meeting, and quickly remind about the project for directors that may be busy thinking about other projects. You may want to attach your presentation and any relevant documentation when you invite people, so people have time to prepare.

Remember, this is not a movie where you want to be surprised. It is a business endeavor where everyone wants, needs, and must be prepared. So, give them the material, your slides are no secret.

If you are preparing a SteerCo meeting, we have the perfect guide about the SteerCo meeting agenda that you can find here.

SteerCo Meeting in Summary

So, let’s recap. A SteerCo meeting is a meeting where directors and VP channel a project in one direction or another, typically quarterly. It is run by the project manager who oversees the project, and who seeks approval, guidance, or indications from those directors and VP. To do so, the project manager will need to present the status versus the baseline, as well as the key attention points.

Hopefully, this guide gives you all the insight you need to understand and even participate in a SteerCo meeting. You may want to continue to build your career with a deep dive into the SteerCo meeting agenda guide.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

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Alessandro Maggio



Project Management