Regardless of your project size, type, location and delivery method, meetings will always exist. Meetings are scheduled gatherings of individuals for stated purpose, to discuss and act upon matters of common interest. Meetings serve valuable purpose in the project to effectively communicate information, report progress, exchange ideas, render decisions, resolve issues, coordinate work, prevent problems among many others. Actually, it is estimating that project management team members spend around 50% of their time in attending meetings, taking actions or being informed on what was discussed in meetings among others.
Therefore, failing to manage meetings effectively will not only result in wasting this expensive effort of the project management team members but could result in major claims and disputes. Since most project meetings involve attendees from the different parties of the contract, failing to act in a correct and timely manner on meeting actions could result in delays to project’s milestone date, incur additional cost, lack of coordination, redo of completed work, site accidents, delays to site access among many others.
No one can deny that digital transformation for the project management industry has not only improved the efficiency of managing projects’ BIG DATA but it has helped to bring the transparency, accountability, governance, traceability and real-time single version of the truth reporting for project’s performance and status. Similar to the many project management processes that have benefited from this digital transformation, managing project meetings have benefited a lot of digital transformation. The use of Project Management Information Systems (PMIS) like PMWeb have provided the insight for managing meeting minutes that project management team members have always missed.
Requirements for Effective Meetings
Since meetings could have different purposes for which each could require different participants who are appropriate for issues that will be brought during the meeting and have authority to act on those issues, there should be different meetings subject. For example, there could be meetings for project kick-off, design review, value engineering, stage gate review, site mobilization, progress review, safety, interface and coordination, submittal review, closeout among many others. Each one of those meetings should have it is purpose well defined and the list of participants agreed on. In addition, they need to pre-scheduled not only to ensure that the authorized participants are attending but also to avoid overlap with other meetings that could involve the same participants or even to ensure the availability of the meeting room.
Setting the Meeting Calendar
Setting the meetings calendar usually available by default in all Project Management Information System (PMIS) software applications like PMWeb which are used to manage the complete projects’ data across the complete life cycle stages. The screen shot below details how to create the meeting calendar for the projects that will be managed by the organization. Those meetings can be held once, when needed or recurring on weekly, monthly or any other desired period. It will require setting the planned start and end of the meeting.
When those meetings get scheduled, then they will get displayed on the project’s meetings calendar. The calendar can have a different time scale display, that is by day, week or month. This will provide the project team members who are part of those meetings to plan their schedule so they can attend those meetings.
Documenting Meeting Minutes
A key requirement for each project is that the minutes of each meeting held to be formally captured in what is known as the Meeting Minutes. Those would include the description of all information, decisions, commitments and actions shared and communicated during the meeting. It is highly recommended that a single project team member is assigned to each one of those meeting items. This will enforce accountability when it comes to taking the needed actions to close what was agreed on. Of course, there should be a date assigned for closing each specific topic to avoid possible project delays. That is why, there is a growing trend to assign the project schedule activity that it is start date could be affected by this meeting item. To enable better understanding of the reported meeting item, it is highly recommended to attach all supportive documents to the relevant meeting item.
PMWeb PMIS will be used to capture those meeting minutes along with all the needed details and attributes. It will also allow updating the status of each reported item and when it was actually completed. This will ensure that the complete history of each action reported in the project meeting minutes.
In addition to the details of all items discussed during the meeting, the meeting minutes should include details of the project, meeting topic, project WBS that the meeting belongs to, location, date, timing, list of meeting participants that need to attend and those who have actually attended, details of the next scheduled meeting among others. Of course, the agenda for the next meeting will be generated from the current meeting where all meetings actions completed will be removed from the agenda.
Timely Distribution of Meeting Minutes
Having the meeting minutes captured in a real-time format for which all those meeting items are documented, reviewed and actioned during the meeting itself will ensure timely distribution of the meeting minutes. Using the same PMWeb PMIS platform, a transmittal can be generated from the meeting minute module itself to distribute the meeting minutes among those project team participants who are part of the transmittal workflow and distribution list.
Meeting Minutes History
Capturing the history of meeting minutes for all meetings types and sessions across all the projects managed by the organization creates a massive wealth of information and eventually knowledge that no project intensive organization or their Project Management Office (PMO) can afford not to have. The data captured in those meeting minutes not only of great use to analyze trends in managing meeting minutes but are critical and vital when it comes for supporting or defending a project claim or dispute.
The data captured from those meeting minutes are needed not only during the project life cycle stages but for many years after the project completion. For example, the new law issued by the UAE government have made it a requirement for organizations to keep records that could have financial implications for 15 years. Therefore, the history of meeting minutes should not be limited to active projects but also projects that were completed.
Business Intelligence (BI) for Meeting Minutes
The major development and adoption of what is known as self-service business intelligence (BI) and data visualization software like MS Power BI, Qlik, Tableau among many others has provided project team participants and PMO members the ability to dice, slice and analyze the BIG DATA captured from the different project management processes to have better insight on the projects’ performance. For example, the meeting minutes captured in PMWeb can be used to create a dashboard to assess the status and performance of meeting minutes reported during the project life. It is also possible to create dashboards to analyze the frequency and trends of specific meeting minute subject as well as closure trend for raised meeting actions.