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The Cost and Benefit of Effective Meetings

This may be controversial, but I dislike boring meetings.

One of my favourite games I would play when I was a young professional in a boring meeting (which happened a surprising amount of the time) was to work out how much a meeting was costing. This is what I would do;

In a room full of people talking over the finer points of whatever-it-is-that-isn’t-really-important-to-me, I would guestimate the hourly rate of the average person in that meeting and multiply that by the number of people in the meeting. The result of that would be the hourly cost to have that meeting.

It staggered me how much money could be spent to hold a meeting. I remember one particular meeting that stretched over three days with approximately 20 people in it. My best guess is that it totalled around AUD$27,000 just to get everyone in the room together!

Even to get a group of 5 people working at minimum wage around a table for a full day costs around AU$800 (even if you skimp on the tiny sandwiches and tea and coffee).

My point here isn’t that meetings are evil and should be avoided at all costs, but that if a meeting is going to be held, why not make it worth the money that is spent on it?

We’ve tried to quantify how Huddlepoint can provide a benefit to your business here, but it doesn’t really get into how the benefit is calculated. To start, we broke down the potential benefits into 6 categories:

1. Operational Efficiency

Everyone wants to be part of a well-oiled machine where everything just works together. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

  • Shorter meeting time – If we can spend 5% less time in meetings because they are run better, that is more time we can spend working on things that matter.
  • Less time duplicating work – According to research an average person spends 5.7h per week duplicating work that has already been done by someone else. It would be unrealistic to think that this could be stopped JUST by having more structured meetings, but by having a better understanding about what other people are doing may cause but a reduction of this time by at least 5%.
2. Saving Time

Time is a finite resource and you cannot get it back if it is wasted. For this benefit we considered only saving time during a meeting.

  • Reviewing actions – Often the main objective of a meeting is to come to a consensus on a topic and compile a plan of work to be completed moving forward. Using the Meeting Actions and Issue Actions in Huddlepoint means that any actions that come out of a meeting can be quickly marked off or checked. This might only save several minutes every meeting, but it progressively adds up.
3. Saving Money

As we know, time is money. We chose to consider the cost of time spent preparing for a meeting to quantify money saved.

  • Preparing an Agenda – Each meeting should have an agenda, but it always falls to someone to make sure an agenda is up to date and distributed prior to the meeting. This benefit assumes a 5 minute reduction in time for one person to prepare and distribute an agenda for each meeting by managing agenda updates and distribution from Huddlepoint.
  • Updating Minutes – Effective meetings have minutes distributed afterwards so that the outcomes can be reviewed later. Huddlepoint allows for the meeting minutes to be typed/entered electronically while the meeting is running, saving a minimum of 15 minutes of someone’s time transcribing their handwritten notes after the meeting has finished.
4. Improves Productivity

A productive team relies on communication and a shared understanding of what tasks needs to be completed.

  • Chasing Up Action Completion – This benefit assumes that each person at some point during a week needs information from someone else. The benefit is calculated on a time saving of 15 minutes per person per week where they would otherwise have to chase down a piece of work that someone else was actioned to complete.
5. Simplifies Record Keeping

Auditing a process is a key way of monitoring how effective that process is. There can even be a legal requirement to provide evidence that a particular task was done, that a certain meeting was held, or consensus was reached on a given topic. As such record keeping is an essential part of any business.

  • Preparing for audits – To facilitate audits it is assumed that it requires one person 10 days every year to collect the required information to complete the audit. It is assumed that the Reporting tools in Huddlepoint can reduce this time by half.
6. Increasing Accountability

Making sure people have the right tools to do their job makes them more effective.

  • Reviewing Open Actions – The Huddlepoint dashboard provides an easy way for a person to review all open actions that they have. This means less time searching through emails trying to find that one email that had something that you needed to do in it. It is assumed that this can save an average of 3 minutes per person per day.
  • Having to Reschedule Less Meetings – Some meetings are scheduled assuming that certain work will be completed prior to the meeting. This can mean that a meeting has to be held a second time because the required information wasn’t available for the initial scheduled meeting. The calculator assumes that this happens once a month on average.
  • Access to Prior Learnings – If someone knows that work has been done previously on something, they might spend some time looking for it. Having an easy way to link documents to meeting agenda items means that they are more likely to find the information that they need. It is assumed that this saves 15 minutes per person per week.
  • Not Waiting for Assistance – “Hurry up and wait” was a common phrase where I used to work. We would often be held back from completing our work because we were waiting for someone else to finish theirs. Research shows that on average we spend 5.3 hours per person per week waiting for vital information or just trying to “make do” without it. The calculator assumes this can be reduced by 5% by making it easier to track individual’s Meeting and Issue Actions.

As you can see, none of these assumptions used in the calculator are earth shattering, is assumes a 5 minute benefit here, and a 10 minute benefit there, but the result of so many small benefits across a business can add up quickly. Not only that, but if we HAVE to have a meeting, surely we want to make certain each meeting is as easy as possible, as efficient as practical, and has the outcomes that the business needs to be successful.

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