Feb 7 2011
One fact of life in the business world is that we have to go to meetings. We meet with our supervisors, our team, clients, vendors, and anyone else who is involved in our job responsibilities.
Unfortunately many meetings aren’t as productive as we would like. Usually the first few minutes are spent waiting for people, making introductions, and going over the agenda. During this time I often find myself calculating how much the time costs. If you have 10 people, each of whom makes $80,000/yr, then the meeting costs close to $7 per minute. Meetings burn money fast.
Since there’s no getting away from meetings altogether, the next best thing is to optimize how the time is spent. In my experience I’ve found that sending out an agenda in advance can help get things moving. I’ve also noticed that following up with meeting minutes along with assigned tasks facilitates keeping people up to date on what the next steps are. Fortunately, so did Agreedo, (found at agreedo.com), a new web application that allows you to plan meetings and track meeting minutes.
Now first things first, I need to qualify my statement when I say I think meeting minutes are valuable. What I mean is that I think they’re valuable when someone else takes them. Were I ever to be in charge of them it would turn into a murky mess that is illegible at best, offensive at worst. I suspect I’ve lost some of my favorite jobs over my haphazard meeting minute taking skills. I tend to rely on good ole fashion memory when it comes to these sorts of things. For some of us, meetings are best spent letting your mind wander aimlessly while others drone on about various nonsense. Which is all the more reason to utilize a service like Agreedo.
Agreedo is a place for meeting minute management. First you create the meeting. Then you can create an agenda and send out invites. Meetings have all the expected amenities including a start and stop times and date. The invites sync with Outlook or Gmail calendar so it’s easy to add to your schedule. Once people accept they can add items to the agenda or make comments. (This access can be restricted if you prefer.) The agenda comes in four different flavors. First is Info, then Decision, next Task, and finally Topic. These can be added as people see fit. Tasks can be assigned to attendees and given a deadline and Decisions can be set so everyone knows the updated status.
But there’s one aspect of meeting minutes that can be troublesome and difficult to maintain- the numbering system. This is the 18.104.22.168 numbering of your topics of discussion. Agreedo handles it seamlessly. Whenever an item in the minutes is highlighted you can move it up, down, and increase or decrease the indent. By placing the items on the page as you like, the numbering system is updated automatically. It almost makes you want to be a legal secretary or something. Almost.
A few other features to round things out are the ability to upload files and readily schedule follow up meetings. The follow up meeting functionality prevents you from having to reinvite everyone and also retype all the past items. You can select from the previous minutes the items that should be addressed in the follow up. So likely you would grab the Tasks to see if everything was completed as expected.
Agreedo is extremely well designed in a we mean business and plan on being around, kind of way. I scoured the site looking for a price but kept running into a dead end with the words, ‘Free registration.’ I kept expecting to find some nonsense about monthly fees or 14 day trial. As of this writing anyone can use Agreedo for as many meetings as they would like; they can’t pay for it if they try. Time will tell if this pricing model will last, or if they’re slowly lulling us in with a nice service that we’ll soon not be able to live without. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the freemium pricing model makes an entrance at some point. For this caliber of a site you almost expect it and feel like something’s missing without.
Keeping meeting minutes is a challenging task. With Agreedo you can finally organize the process and get instant feedback as well as distribution of your talking points. This will both save time, money, and an endless amount of doodling on one’s notepad.