Project minutes v project action points…which is your choice?

We often talk about the highlight report as being one or two pages long giving literally the highlights of the project since the last report.

There is an interesting contrast with minutes of project meetings. This was brought home during a project management course last year. One person said that they provided one to two page highlight reports but said that the minutes of project meetings took ages to produce and were 5 or 6 pages long.

Our survey showed…..

A quick survey of people who attended some of our project management courses suggested that:

• very few had received any training in the writing of minutes but yet those that had written them, had spent a long time doing so

• not many thought the minutes had very much value

• all project meetings had some sort of record produced afterwards – mostly minutes

The few exceptions to project minutes were project action points. These are simple one to two pages long with three columns:

• area discussed

• action to take

• person who owns the action and by when

This approach could save valuable project time

Groups really liked this approach feeling it would have a real benefit to projects as well as saving valuable project time. It was also seen as a document that would serve all team members alongside project executives.

So, the key issue for you is this; what records do you produce from your project meetings and how useful is it? Do let me have your views.

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14 Responses to Project minutes v project action points…which is your choice?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Project minutes v project action points…which is your choice? | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead -- Topsy.com

  2. Hi Ron, it’s project action points for me. Done well they become a good record of the meeting as well. This negates the need for minutes and recording actions seems to keep project meetings focused on resolving issues too.

    Simple concepts but potentially big impacts on the efficiency of project delivery.

  3. Hi Ron,

    I work mostly in a virtual setting. Since recently I am using a meeting minutes document that is divided to standard topics that are reviewed during the meeting. Say: Contract Updates, Infrastructure, Software, Miscellanious, etc. All entries are marked as etiher: I – information, U – update or A – action. So I maintain one document and update it during the meeting. Thus it has all project history for a given period and is quite easy to complete shortly after the meeting. It even serves as an agenda as I enter the updates I have and distribute it before the meeting. During the meeting I just go over the updates and ask for additional inputs.

    This works quite well for my projects – agenda, minutes and action items all in one document that is updated during the meeting.

  4. I like the maxim “less is more” but the approach I describe above is actually “more is less” – better information and efficiency with less work.

    • Stan, thanks for both of your posts. For me it is what is effective? Minutes have shown themselevs to be less than effcetive and that is why I am in favour of (accurate) action points.
      Ron

  5. Ron, in my case brief minutes are also important as they care the history of the project in an environment of distributed, changing team.

  6. Adriana B. says:

    I’m a business analysis consultant, and having worked with project managers who produce meeting minutes and just action points, I will agree with Stan, who seems to be proposing a middle way between lengthy minutes and just action points.

    I’m not entirely convinced of the need to separate “information” from “update”, but I think that a template that includes a space for brief updates for each area discussed in addition to the corresponding action items has value. Of course, if there’s nothing important to report outside action items, you end up with the action items structure Ron initially described.

    • Adriana, thanks for this.

      I wanted to draw attention to the comments I get whcih is that the time taken to write the minutes is a poor return on the investment. I think we have collectively started this off…my thanks

      Ron Rosenhead

  7. Adriana B. says:

    You are welcome, Ron! I can imagine that is the case with busy project managers feeling a bit frustrated with the demand for detailed minute meetings, on top of everything else they have to do.

    In addition to the fact that there can be a compromise (being brief without omitting important updates), I think that before coming to the conclusion that minutes have a poor return on the investment, it’s important to confirm with each recipient whether he/she sees value or not. I often see in my projects program managers, tech leads, etc., minimizing the importance of sharing knowledge with other team members. Because *they* know what’s going on, they tend to think it is a waste of time to repeat the information to others who may not be directly involved.

    Typically there are many non-obvious reasons for this sharing to happen — members of the team that weren’t in the meeting may need that piece of information to plan their work, stakeholders may need a reminder of a decision that was made that doesn’t require further action, and so on.

    • Adriana, thanks for your comments.

      ROI is a big issue and for me this is not too high when I see project managers struggling to write minutes. To write (effective) minutes you need to be trained. Yes, I have seen and organised when I was a Training Manager minute taking courses. The investment is worth it however I have only come across 1 person who has ever been on any training and is involved in project management. Sharing is essential but only if the sharing is based on some effective minutes.

      Ron

  8. Ron and all, let me share something from my experience as a PM. I was taking over a project from a colleague recently. I was reading project documentation which was a ton. It was hard to digest it all and get up to speed with what was actually relevent at the moment quickly. What do you think was the most useful document for that? Meeting minutes from meetings with customer and with the team. This was the document that contained what I needed to know most and first.

    So, whether to write meeting minutes or not depends on the actual project situation. Like almost everything they may be very useful or plain waste of time.

  9. Stan, this is a really god point. Many thanks for showing me a different point of view.Cheers

    Ron

  10. nadja says:

    I stoppes to write meeting minutes 3 years ago. it took too long to agree on wording and who said what. instead of minutes I added a column named “Source meeting” to the action list. all agreed actions from any kind of meetings – weekly, review, management, supplier – are listed together and we go through the list with the partivipants before the meeting ends. it works! if anyone asks me, who attended the meeting, I have the participant list in the calender view. be lazy, be happy 🙂

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