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Inexpensively Streamline Meeting Agendas and Minutes

In organizations big and small, meetings are almost always part of the game. Agendas must be prepared before the meeting and Minutes compiled afterward. This process can be very time-consuming and create a lot of paper.

Here is how it typically works:

AGENDA:

  • An agenda file is created in Microsoft Word.
  • Collaborator input is solicited:
  • The Agenda file is sent to others who “red-line” the document and send it back (with a new filename);
  • Paper copies are circulated to collaborators to mark up;
  • Agenda input and backup documentation is sent via email, phone or face to face.
  • Accumulated input is incorporated into the Agenda Word doc.
  • Agenda backup documentation accumulated is scanned and organized by action item.
  • The backup documentation is printed;
  • Organized by action items;
  • Scanned into a single PDF document;
  • Bookmarks are added to action items in the newly created PDF;
  • Action items linked to the bookmarks.
  • Agenda sent for approval.
  • Approved agenda printed.
  • Agenda taken for signature.
  • Signed Agenda scanned into the backup PDF document.
  • Paper copies sent to each meeting attendee; 
  • Dispersed to the members using Dropbox or something similar (because the file is often too large to email).
  • For public entities, a copy of the agenda and backup documents are also manually uploaded to their website which can add multiple steps to the process.

MINUTES

  • Notes are taken during the meeting
  • The Agenda Word Doc is copied and used for a Minutes file template.
  • The meeting notes are incorporated into the Minutes Word Doc.
  • The draft minutes are printed and taken to the next meeting for review and approval.
  • Once approved, the paper minutes are physically taken to one or more people for signature.
  • The signed minutes are scanned and saved to a server or local hard drive. 
  • Public entities also have to upload a copy to their website which can add multiple steps to the process.

While there are paid tools help to streamline these tedious processes, they are typically quite expensive, require multiple licenses and are not familiar to users. 

Fortunately, there is a simple, cost-effective alternative – use G Suite to prepare agendas and minutes rather than Microsoft apps.

Here is how it works:

AGENDA

  • Create a permanent folder in Google Drive for you to share your agendas with meeting attendees (for public entities – integrate with website one time).
  • Create a Google Doc in a private draft folder.
  • Invite Collaborators to Edit, Comment and/or Suggest Changes to the Agenda Google Doc and add backup files to the shared Google Drive folder.
  • Once the need for collaboration has ended, get approval via a built-in Google Doc comment tool which automatically records approvals.
  • Once approved, link the action items in the Agenda Google Doc file to the action items in the Google Drive folder.
  • Route the Agenda file for signature (approx. $15/mo for the signature requestor’s account using 3rd party such as Docusign or HelloSign) and save the signed agenda file to the permanent, shared Google Drive folder which all attendees can access (and the public can instantly see from the website).

MINUTES

  • Create a Minutes Archive folder (for public entities – integrate with website one time).
  • Make a copy of the Google Doc Agenda in a Draft Google Drive folder to use for your Minutes file.
  • Make notes in Google Doc Minutes file at the meeting.
  • Share Draft minutes via Google Drive with members at the next meeting.
  • Once approved, route for signature using the paid version of Hello Sign or Docusign (approx. $15/mo for the signature requestor’s account) and save to the Minutes Archive folder in Google Drive (for public entities – this will show up on the website automatically).

The G Suite Agenda/Minutes process is made even easier as editors can access their folder and files from the Google Drive/Google Docs browser/mobile app and from their Windows or Mac desktop using Google Drive File Stream, which appears as a virtually mapped drive.

So the next time you are faced with putting an agenda and minutes together and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a specialized agenda/minutes application, consider G Suite.