Minutes: the bane of a Project Manager's life. The number of times I've heard people say "I'd best type up those minutes to cover myself"
But minutes are not just an audit trail, or exhibit A used in a project post-mortem. These following reasons are why I ensure minutes are maintained AND issued as soon as possible.
1. People will always remember how they felt about a person, situation or event - and that includes Project meetings!
So one person's version of the meeting will be different to another - simply because they felt differently and were coming from different perspectives. A Project Manager should, therefore, never rely on memory - despite believing you can recall non-emotive facts.
2. Meetings are an important part of team work. Team work can be a very powerful force, and harnessing that power is a skill essential to the Project Manager's toolkit. Within a meeting is the perfect time to document agreements. Agreements in approach or solutions can then be documented in minutes, and transferred to RAID logs.
3. Project are pressurised environments. You are constantly moving forwards, to achieve goals and that means ACTION ACTION ACTION! The number of actions that come our of a meeting! (Typically I always seem to walk away with the most!)
Acting quickly after a meeting may need the support of the documented minutes by way of explanation (e.g "Please find attached the minutes from the Project Meeting where Team A agreed to invite to you the subsequent meetings").
4. Responsibility and Accountability. Although blame culture is in my view an unhealthy one, there still needs to be an accountability for everyone in the project team. This includes the Project Manager but it is their responsibility to maintain the team's. A PM will need to ensure that action owners don't forget their commitments and are working towards them. If notes are still in pen in a 'book somewhere' then there is no visible accountability. Publishing the minutes (and action log) to a shared but secured area can support this.
5. Perspective. Organising the team into tasks, time segments and responsibilities is fine..but with many moving parts things can happen. Priorities or strategies may change (perhaps from the customer) and so much can happen in such a short space of time that it can be difficult later on, to understand why decisions were made, or why certain actions were taken.
Minutes really help to understand this and put things into perspective.
If you're looking for a Project Management Consultant who offers so much more than 'typing up minutes' then please get in touch!