Decision logs in meetings: Why tracking decisions is key to your company’s success
As decisions are made in meetings, a dedicated meeting management solution helps leaders track and monitor decisions. Here is why a decision log is essential to a company's success and how leaders can implement and use it.
The ability to make the right decisions is a critical leadership skill and the importance of good decisions is unparalleled. Not only does decision making help your organisation stand out from the competition, but it also helps define visions and achieve corporate goals. The right decisions are the driving force of an organisation, pushing it towards success. On the contrary, bad decisions are extremely costly and affect a company's ability to remain competitive.
But once the right decisions are made, what happens? How can leaders ensure that their decisions lead to the success of their organisation? In fact, another crucial aspect of effective decision making is to record decisions in a decision log, in order to keep track of them for two key purposes: to track the implementation of the resulting actions, and to provide a record of, and information on, which to base future decision making, where decisions — both correct and incorrect — will provide useful information.
In this article, we explain to business leaders how to keep a decision log after each meeting, where decision making takes place, in order to better monitor them and, by consolidating information for future decisions, improve their overall decision-making process.
What is a decision log?
A decision log is an essential communication tool that allows leaders to keep track of decisions (made most often in formal meetings), to inform involved stakeholders of how each decision was reached, including:
- What options were considered;
- When was the decision made;
- Where; and
- By whom (voting and final approval).
Some other data can be captured depending on the project and/or the company, for example: the impact of the decision and its resulting actions, with tasks assigned to specific stakeholders. As decisions are made in meetings, the decision log needs to be integrated in the meeting management processes.
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Why is it important to record decisions in a decision log?
Making good decisions is one thing, but ensuring that the next stage in the process is effective is crucial: the execution phase - which comes after decisions have been made, therefore after the meeting has concluded.
Using a decision log each time decisions are taken has multiple benefits:
- It eliminates any potential confusion surrounding what decisions were made, why, when, by whom, and how.
- It allows leaders to follow-up more easily on each decision after it has been made.
- It clarifies the roles and responsibilities of subsequent actions for each decision.
- It facilitates execution.
- It provides an information base for future decisions.
- It allows the company to keep a record of decisions for potential audits, which can be beneficial for highly-regulated sectors such as the pharmaceutical or banking industry for example.
It’s useful to be aware of these best practices for each department within an organisation, as they are an important part of effective decision-making. In order to make these processes seamless and efficient, centralising them on a single platform within meeting management processes will bring significant improvements, ensuring that critical decisions are properly supported, in an accessible, transparent, efficient, and secure environment.
Examples of the importance of a decision log
The following scenarios demonstrate the benefits of a decision log:
- Get up to speed quickly: As a leader, you’ve taken a few well-deserved days off with your family. Although the holiday was short, when you returned to work you realised that a lot had happened, and you quickly understood that getting back up to speed would be stressful. If the management team you form part of uses a decision log — and therefore has recorded decisions during your absence — this will enable you, and others in your situation, to figure out what happened during your days away without needing to comb through emails or Microsoft Teams messages. When you get back, you can simply check the list of decisions and in a few minutes you're back up and running.
This will enable you to disconnect fully during your time off, knowing that when you are back, it will be easy to catch up — which is vital in order to maintain well-being at work.
- No one is blindsided: An emergency board meeting was organised as an urgent resolution needed to be passed to react to a crisis. There was no time for all of the meeting administrators to meet beforehand. Despite this, all board members were notified in writing via a centralised tool to give their vote and reach a decision, which was well-documented in order to ensure that all necessary information was available. After the meeting, this decision was logged so that its effectiveness could be monitored and future iterations could take place.
- Higher commitment: In an executive meeting, long and nuanced debates led to a series of decisions on critical issues. Not everyone agreed, but having the decisions written down and approved by the majority in a decision log meant that everyone would commit to them. It is also a great way to track the success of decisions: if you were wrong, you can go back and look at the options considered, and understand why the chosen option was suboptimal. If you were right, you can also understand why and reuse what works. In the meantime, decisions are made and things move forward.
What happens if you don’t track decisions ?
Decisions can be slippery, and unless you track them they can become the root cause of a vast array of business problems.1 All too often, when business operations go wrong, leaders can pinpoint the symptoms of the problem: too many meetings, information overload, slow decisions, off-topic discussions in meetings, a lack of communication and alignment, and poor results. By contrast, leaders obviously want the opposite — to make better decisions, have clearer objectives, and to execute more effectively.
However, according to a recent study, very few leaders actually track their decisions: they are actually unable to list them in a concrete way, and they regularly lose track of them.2 However, how can you make good decisions, have clear objectives, and execute upon them well if you don’t actually know very well what has been decided?
Decisions turn goals into tasks, tasks into results, and results into new goals. Decisions must be tracked as such if leaders want to improve the goals, tasks, and results they create.
Decisions are the driving force of an organisation
Senior executives spent 70% of their time making decisions.3 Positions of leadership are indeed entrusted with a responsibility to constantly reflect on the company's successes and failures, and to weigh the pros and cons, based on data, experience, and perception, and to decide on the company's direction and focus in order to steer it toward its goals. And as we have already seen, these decisions are most often made at executive meetings, such as committee meetings or board meetings, and are the outcome of deliberations between the relevant leaders involved.
Although decisions are extremely important, bad decisions are unfortunately very common. On the contrary, making the right decisions can lead your entire organisation toward success. The right decisions:
- Save time and money
- Increase productivity
- Make better use of available resources
- Calculate costs efficiently
- Identify the right opportunities
- Set achievable goals
- Imagine new products and services
- Hire the best talents
- Establish the best strategies
- Better manage conflicts
and the list could go on.
This is where the importance of a dedicated solution comes in, helping you to increase the effectiveness of your decision-making process. An integrated meeting management solution is key. It makes meetings more efficient, which is the basis for effective decision making, as great decisions are made in great meetings. What’s more, by allowing leaders to set up a complete decision log during each meeting, it optimises their follow-up and provides an information base for future decisions, therefore — once again — improving the entire decision making process.
How to make good decisions and log those decisions during each meeting ?
Reminder: in order to make great decisions, leaders need to start by holding effective business meetings. For that, having a framework in place to optimise the entire meeting cycle is essential: before, during, and after each meeting. Read our business meeting guide for more inspiration.
Once great decisions are made, they need to be successfully taken to the next step, which is tracking and follow-up on them. A dedicated meeting management solution will help you with that — in addition to supporting the optimisation of your entire meeting process.
Implementing such a solution will allow you to :
- Follow-up effectively on decisions made;
- Have all your meetings, decisions and resulting actions in one place, auditable in time;
- Build a clear database of information for the next decisions that need to be made; and
- Remain fully auditable : your business will keep a record of what has happened in meetings, and of the circumstances of each decision (considered options, time, place, people involved, etc.).
By enabling all of this, a dedicated meeting management solution will greatly increase the overall effectiveness of your meetings and decision-making processes. The case of the Röchling Group, for example, is unambiguous: by using Sherpany's meeting management solution, the productivity of their meeting management processes has increased by 20%, and the speed of their decision-making process has risen significantly. In addition, all of this can be done in line with the highest security and compliance standards, which is of utmost importance for regulated industries such pharmaceuticals or bankings.
What does a decision log look like in a meeting management solution like Sherpany ?
Now that we know what a decision log is, why it is important, and how to log decisions in a dedicated tool, let's see how it is done in Sherpany.
In addition to providing a framework for optimising your meetings throughout their entire life cycle, Sherpany allows you to :
- Record your decisions in a decision log, as well as all resulting actions, detailing who is responsible for them and the deadlines in the Tasks and Decisions module;
- Keep a record of your discussions through the intelligent minute-taking module;
- Vote online securely in the Voting and Electronic Signature module; and
- Keep track of all actions from meeting preparation to execution, such as digital resolutions, in an audit trail specifically designed to meet the highest security and compliance standards, preparing you for any potential audits.
Find these modules below in more detail.
Tasks and Decisions
Once a decision has been made during a meeting, it is automatically added to a centralised decision log, accessible under the Tasks and Decisions module. A decision log template is used to ensure all relevant information is logged with a decision. Also, for each decision, it is very easy to assign actions to the people responsible and track their progress, clarifying actions and responsibilities for each decision. Below, you can see a decision log in Sherpany.
As you can see in this decision log, in Sherpany you are able to clearly see all decisions (also filtering for those that concern you) and can find:
- To which context (agenda item) and meeting they are linked, which is automatically available and allows to quickly get more information if needed;
- Who is responsible for the decision;
- Deadlines (including the date by which each decision must be reviewed);
- Their status; and
- Reminders for overdue revisions.
Voting and electronic signatures
With Sherpany, the decision-making process in meetings is transformed: no more raised hands — all decisions are digital. With the voting feature, decision making can be done before, during, or after the meeting. Voting anonymously ensures that is avoided and informs the leader or decision maker if there is a need for further discussion. Results are tracked and the resulting decisions are automatically kept in the decision log. With the digital circular resolution, boards can take certified resolutions also without having to meet, and Advanced Digital Signatures are applied to the record of the decisions.
Sherpany provides a pre-populated minutes template, based on the agenda of each meeting. This allows discussions to be tracked and documented quickly and effortlessly, along with the decisions and respective tasks. As a result, leaders can keep track of what happened at meetings in a timely manner, allowing them to meet in a secure and compliant way, as well as building a valuable centralised and updated database for future meetings and decisions. These minutes are easy to share among all participants, who also approve them before publication in one click — ensuring that their content is accurate.
As a leader, you have a heavy set of responsibilities: the decisions you make are crucial to your business and will determine its future success or failure. Making the wrong decisions will have a series of repercussions that will, in turn, likely result in huge costs for your business. And once you've made the right decisions, the job isn’t over: following them up is essential if they are to bear fruit.
As this article has shown, there is an effective way to set your business up for success: Implementing a dedicated solution to effectively track your decisions with a robust decision log will help you track decisions more effectively, improve execution, and build a wealth of valuable information to support your future decision making, improving the overall decision-making process in a secure and compliant way.
You can start making better decisions, in better meetings today, and have an effective decision log to optimise your entire decision-making process in one centralised solution.
1 “Tell Your People To Track Their Decisions. It Makes Everyone Happier.”, Forbes, August 2019.
2 “Don't Fail At Decision Making Like 98% Of Managers Do”, Forbes, May 2017.
3 “Decision making in the age of urgency”, McKinsey, April 2019.