The Importance of Meeting Minutes in Project Management
At our office, meetings take place every day. According to (Atlassian, 2019) the average employee spends up to 31 hours a month in meetings so you can imagine the collective time spent attending meetings. Decisions made in these meetings may involve a lot of time, and money and can even change the future of our clients. Often underestimated task – taking meeting minutes – falls on the junior or assistant staff of the organization, or even worse, gets overlooked even though it is an important and vital task. In its essence, it is note-taking during the meeting but with a structural approach. The aim is to satisfy the following goals:
- Have a written follow-up with details such as project name, meeting topic, date, time, location, the person who wrote the minutes, attendees, and who was it sent to;
- To know which agreed actions have to be taken by whom and by when;
- To know what were the key conclusions;
- To have essay-type follow-up notes of the meeting conversation;
- To note any attachments presented at the meeting.
Besides these goals, they are also useful for those absent to know what was discussed and what decisions have been taken. Not to mention how vital they are in case of conflicts, to know what agreements were made. In addition, they offer legal protection as they are considered legal documents by auditors and the courts. Legal experts will maintain that if an action is not in the minutes, it did not happen.
I would agree with (Cantarelli, 2017) who points out that people responsible for taking meeting minutes should be prepared, for example reading previous minutes in order to take confidence with them. It is important to arrive at the meeting room before the meeting begins in order to be prepared to note essential things like who is present or absent and to know the topics which will be discussed, especially if the person taking the minutes is not very familiar with the subjects of the meeting. Writing minutes is not a dictation exercise. It is a summary. Of course, making a summary of things discussed rather than written is not easy.
Usually, meeting minutes are recorded on a laptop or tablet. That way it enables quick review of spelling and grammar and it may be disseminated to meeting participants quickly and easily. Sometimes even cloud solutions are used such as Microsoft One Note as part of the organization’s Share Point solution. After all, a question came across my mind: why are meeting minutes called that way? (Veerman, 2017) takes a guess that it possibly came directly from the Latin ‘minuta scriptura’, meaning ‘small notes’. So meeting minutes are a reference to something small, not something that has to do with time. That’s why meeting notes are called minutes.
- Atlassian. (2019, August). Atlassian. Retrieved from Atlassian: https://www.atlassian.com/time-wasting-at-work-infographic (accessed on: 20th August 2019)
- Cantarelli, S. (2017). The Importance of Taking Meeting Minutes. Geneva, Switzerland.
- Veerman, E. (2017). What are Meeting Minutes and why are they important? Amsterdam, Netherlands.