As mentioned in our earlier blog post in this series, Meeting Management is one of the important areas for improved collaboration in an enterprise. A meeting is a complex process that consists of scheduling, conducting, documenting and tracking. If any of these steps go wrong, we end up having a non-productive meeting with a lot of time wasted for multiple stakeholders. Let’s take some time to understand the challenges and some potential solutions for each of these steps.

A. Scheduling

a)   Challenges

i.   Getting availability of all the stakeholders, meeting rooms and other resources needed for the meeting.  Sending out an email to the   stakeholders requesting for a meeting and some stakeholders are responding with their confirmation and others declining with a request for alternate time slots.

ii.   Booking a room, a shared conference bridge and a shared online meeting account (GoToMeeting, WebEx)

iii.  Agenda sent across in one or more emails to the participants

iv.  Getting reminders for the meeting

b)   Solution

i.   Using Exchange Calendar to schedule meetings:

1.   Checking availability of stakeholders from their calendars before sending out the meeting request

2.   Checking availability of meeting rooms, conference bridges etc… from their calendars before blocking them for the meeting

3.   Meeting invite has the updated agenda

4.   Receive reminders for the meeting before the start

ii.  Integrating Exchange Calendar into SharePoint so that you have a seamless experience

B. Conducting

a)   Challenges

i.   Material prepared for the meeting is available in a scribbling pad or is available as a document in the local folder or in an email that is sent to the stakeholders

ii.  Presentation material to be sent via email to remote stakeholders for the meeting so that they can follow the meeting conversation

iii. Discussions around the presentation points difficult to follow remotely

b)   Solution

i.   Material prepared for the meeting can be documented and hosted in a SharePoint document library and linked to the scheduled meeting

ii.  Presentations can be shared remotely using an online meeting tool like Lync which allows presentation/screen sharing

iii. Online meeting tools allow annotations on presentation and whiteboard discussion for better collaboration during the meeting

C. Documenting

a)   Challenges

i.   Participants who could not attend may not be able to fully appreciate the meeting proceedings

ii.  Minutes of the meeting is jotted down on a scribbling pad and then documented and circulated via emails and to refer back to the decisions taken and items discussed, participants and organizer need to sieve through a pile of emails

iii. Individuals take down notes especially if they have an action item against their name or if they need to communicate the discussion points to their next levels

b)   Solution

i.   Online meeting tools allow audio/video recording of the session which can be hosted in SharePoint document library and linked to the scheduled meeting

ii.  Minutes of the meeting can be entered into a custom web-part in SharePoint developed for managing meeting minutes and linked to the scheduled meeting. This can be referenced uniquely at any point in time based on the meeting.

D. Tracking

a)   Challenges

i.   Some meeting minutes get converted to action items and are assigned to either participants or non-participants. All this information is typically captured only in the Minutes of Meeting document and circulated to the relevant stakeholders and becomes difficult to track later on.

ii.  Action items assigned to the assignee will need to be manually tracked and closed. It’s difficult to report the status to the relevant stakeholders

b)   Solution

i.   Some of the meeting minutes that are managed as mentioned in c.b.ii are converted to action items or tasks which can use the Task Management feature in SharePoint. This allows the assignee to view the tasks assigned to him along with the due date in SharePoint and will allow the assignee to update the completion% for each task. The meeting organizer and the relevant stakeholders will be able to see the status of the tasks and hence will be able to track them better.

Trust that some of the above solutions give an idea on how we can improve our meetings. As you would have observed, most of the above solutions are just utilizing some of our existing IT investments in the enterprise in the right way.To read Part-3 of this blog click Here.

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