Have you ever had a conversation with a colleague and realized that the conversation should be included as part of your project? Or has someone ever posted an update in a team chat tool and you were unable to find it again? Or has a valued team member left the organization, taking his or her knowledge and valued information along with him or her? For these reasons and more, it is critical to capture the conversation.
Identifying where the conversation happens
Conversations that are beneficial to an enterprise happen in a variety of ways, and they are not always captured. They include the following scenarios.
Initial meetings between customers and account managers can contain valuable insight to customer expectations. Additionally, follow-up emails between customers and account managers also contain valuable project information.
Conversations between account managers and internal project teams are information-rich and often critical to the project. They include, but are not limited to, requirements refinement where customer requests are vetted against project team capabilities, follow-up emails and chats, project status update meetings and emails.
As the work continues so does the conversation. Design review and gate approval meetings, research and development results and reports, cost estimates and financial model assumptions, scope changes and associated authorizations, are all a part of it.
When the work is coming to a close, the conversation includes project completion review and outcome analysis with lessons learned.
Project conversations are numerous, but often include valuable information. Identifying them is only the first step.
Why the conversation is important
Prevent information loss
All too often important information is lost in casual conversations, emails, and chat tools. Rather than relying on memory, team members should capture this information immediately. Timely recording will also prevent a team member from inadvertently handcuffing the team if he or she leaves the team with a significant knowledge gap.
There is also the issue of timely communication of critical decisions between parties; imagine, for example, a situation where a conversation between a salesperson and the customer results in a significant change in scope. This needs to be immediately communicated and vetted by the rest of the project team.
Foster team collaboration
Understanding the value of each contributor improves the conversation and results in better-engaged team members. Capturing and sharing with the entire team can reduce problems and knowledge gaps associated with information silos.
Knowing what and when something was decided is the first step in becoming the reliable partner your customers and teammates expect.
The next steps – how to proceed
It is important to clearly identify who is taking notes in every conversation situation. This includes scheduled and ad hoc meetings, online chats and long emails chains.
Important information should be captured as soon as possible and shared with other contributors. This will lead to more timely communication and accurate information.
Capture all communication in a simple, searchable, central storage location. Be aware of associated data retention policies.
Consider the needs of all members of the team in capturing conversations. Conversations should be captured and stored within the context of the project, allowing each team member to search using the information they are familiar with. This is it a better alternative to storing folders full of meetings minutes documents that are difficult to look up and will likely not be referenced again.
With this approach to enterprise communication, you can create a better way to manage how critical information is captured, and ultimately, provide a more robust resource for your enterprise, both for the immediate success for your projects and for its long-term prospects.