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My question for this discussion is this... what's the best way to seek and obtain approvals (sign-offs) for items that require them, such as:

- Project Charters
- Scope documents
- Meeting minutes
- Roll-out plans

My latest challenge has to do with meeting minutes. After every meeting, I put together the minutes and include action items that are assigned to team members. I always include due dates and when I distribute the minutes to the team, I ask them to review the minutes and let me know if there was something I missed or was incorrect. I tell them that if I don't get a response, I will go with the minutes as is. I'm finding that this is not enough and wonder if they're even read. Should I change my wording to something like... 'after you review the minutes, do you approve or disapprove?', and require a response? Does anyone send reminder messages to task owners, such as the day before a task is due?


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Sometimes i send voting message in outlook. If you are agreed with minutes vote "yes" no - "no" (with explanation of course). for me it works :)

Thanks for the reply. How do I send out a voting message in outlook?
Never mind... I checked the help.

Thanks again... I'm going to look into this.
np :)

You could do with enlisting the help of the meeting chair with this. Are you able to speak to the chair 'offline' and ask if they could encourage meeting members to behave more professionally with regard to action items. After all, it is the cahir who should be holding attendees to account for their actions. A firm handling by the chair usually works wonders

In my experience, the major issue with minutes and their approval is that people (at all levels) feel they understood the task assigned to them during the meeting and don't need to read minutes to tell them that. The main reason for not gaining approval is typically historical. Where minutes are lengthy (wordy) people get bored and feel they have done their bit, verbally or otherwise. One method I have used many time is ...
1 - Tell everyone the minutes will be bullet points only
2 - Tell them that the approval of the action is already agreed once the mtg has finished.
3 - email people requesting an update otherwise the task will read 'not actioned'
I am not denying this causes discontent but it does focus the minds of those present. As long as 'you' have chased them numerous times before with no success, you have a good reason to resort this action. PS - this is a general comment and does not work in all environments.
To support Cheryl Walker, it is important to make them accountable for the action items.

Save 3 minutes to recap the output of the meeting and confirm the action items, owners and expected completion date. Ask for confirmation from every participant (get a “Yes” or “No” not jut a silence). If no issue or comments then you most likely have a common agreement.

Few tips which worked:
-Reminder sent to all the participant with the list of action items, owner and status will help you and the participants to remember the expected activities assigned to every participant.
-A short email or few words (face-2-face even better) to confirm the progress of their activities the day prior the meeting,
-Include "review of action items" as the first bullet in your agenda with the recap on the current progress.
-Email the day prior to the meeting to project sponsor, facilitator and all the participants to remind the impact of no completion of delayed of the action items.

After few meetings participants should get used to this routine and will take the action items more seriously.

All combined those tips help to:
- to create visibility to the owners and their level of support.
- to identify participants who need support to complete their task.
- to avoid the surprise factor and tension/conflict during the meeting. (Everyone knows the status prior to the meeting. Owners can prepare themselves to explain their progress)
- The Project sponsor knows who is delayed and what could be the impact
- The facilitator saves a lot of time during the review of the action items
- to improve the transparency on issues and enable individual accountability
Hello, Paul,

There are several things I do to obtain approvals.
1. Include bullet point action items (including names and dates) and names and the cover letter to the meeting notes.
2. Include acknowledgement of receipt of the e-mail
3. Telephone or voice mail reminders to those who have action items.

I think the important thing here is the list of action items -- not just approval of the minutes.
I personally don't like to get group approval on meeting minutes and I track all of my action items in a log. I'm starting to only use meeting minutes if the team worked out some sort of detailed problem, because it becomes a bear to track the same thing in meeting minutes, a log, and the project plan. My breakdown is:

- Risks, Action Items, Issues, and Decisions get logged in a tabbed spreadsheet
- Tasks/Task Duration/Task owners are updated in the project plan
- Minutes for details when necessary but they'll usually say something like RAID Log and Project Plan updated.

All of these artifacts are then stored in a place with shared access, so that team members may access them at their leisure.

As a PM, I feel it is my job to identify and understand the "Who/What/When" during meetings and sidebar conversations. The log and the project plan are my living documents to keep track of those agreements. If an individual has a problem with one of their tasks or actions, they will either contact me directly or it will come up when they are asked about progress. We are then able to resolve it on the spot, or bring it back to the group for resolution.

Easy-peesy. ;)
In order to obtain approvals, particularly on documents, I use MS Share Point's survey tool. My organization relies heavily on Share Point as a document repository and communication/collaboration tool for projects. Part of our standard share point site template is a survey tool. So, I build the survey asking if they approve or reject the referenced document. Then, I send an email to the stake holders with links to both the survey and the document to be reviewed.

As far as meeting minutes go, I agree with Chris Hall. I don't get approval on meeting minutes, and I track Action Items (et al) in a log that gets reviewed at each status meeting. I gain acceptance of the assigned action item during the meeting with a confirmation of such as part of the meeting wrap up. (P.S. the minutes and the logs are stored on the share point site).
I generally confirm the actions with all present just before the meeting closes. Type up the minutes and distribute accordingly to the team attended.

Then I create tasks in Outlook and assign them to the relevant resource as per the meeting which automatically becomes a task in their inbox and task list. Once complete they flag it as such in their Outlook and I receive notification of it.

The next meeting the first item on the agenda is to discuss the actions and status thereof from the previous meeting. I have found this works pretty well for me.

If you are lucky enough to be working in a PMO that has the advantage of utilising MS Project Server 2007, then this is also half your battle won, as you can track their individual tasks/actions via Project Web Access.
Before the meeting closeout you should have a wrapup of the issues/issues resolved and action items such that those that may have heard/understood or misunderstood are given an opportunity to ask for clarification.
Keep "minutes" to an absolute minimum - using bullet points, issues, new tasks for the schedule and action items to move the elements of the meeting into owned actions.
If you do send minutes for approval, use the voting method and you can capture these in your permanent record using the save as Outlook message function.


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