Best practice for status meeting minutes

One of the never ending stories in business is about how to record the ongoing and results of status meetings. Status meetings have a fixed set of conditions, like

  • reoccurring very often
  • the agenda is the status of the project
  • team members and customers are the participants
  • many todos to follow up (ticket system)
  • may have legal aspects when it comes to troubles later

Nevertheless I’ve seen many projects which neglect to write records of status meetings or don’t hold regular status meetings at all. I think a regular status meeting which follows simple rules helps to avoid 80% of the typical errors which occur in project, e.g. unclear production date, forgotten payment milestones or contractual penalty’s.

There are simple rules to follow which ensure that the status meeting is

  • meaningful – everybody clearly understands what should be done next
  • straight forward – don’t waste your lifetime
  • foolproof – don’t let your project suffer from mistakes you can avoid

The following simple rules result from 10 years practice in project business. They don’t claim to cover every situation but are a minimum every status meeting should obey. Here they are:

  1. Nominate one person who will write the meeting minutes
  2. Write the record during the meeting together with the participants! Ask the participants if you are unsure what to write.
  3. Don’t write down just the conservation but identify the topics. One discussion may raise several decisions or todos.
  4. Every time a discussion about something does not result in dedicated decisions or todos interrupt the discussion and demand to run through the meeting minute checklist! Never allow lengthly discussions which don’t result in written decisions or todos. Give them 5 minutes.
  5. Separate the infos & decisions of a status meeting from the todos! Write the infos and decisions of the meeting in the meeting minutes but manage the todos as tickets in a ticket system. To make it clear: don’t write todos in the meeting minutes manage them in the ticket system or will get a mess.
  6. List the infos and decisions of the meeting in chronological order. Every entry must provide the following attributes: a running number, description (title&summary), type (info or decision) and responsible (who decided that entry).
  7. I recommend to begin the running number anew from #1 with every status meeting (relative numbering). To refer to a decision you need the date of the status meeting and the running number.
  8. List the discussed trouble ticket numbers in the status meeting record. Even just a simple list of ticket numbers ensures you understand later what were your focus at the meeting
  9. If you want to make it perfect, create for every “decision” afterwards a separate tickets in your ticketsystem (e.g. Jira supports that kind of ticket types). This makes it on the long run easier to list all your decisions and verify whether you made already certain decisions.

Remember that even it is widely unpopular to concentrate on meeting minutes they are a key element for successful projects.

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