Meetings are a fact of life at every company, but getting the most out of them isn’t easy. At Ministry Health Care in Milwaukee, WI, managing the agendas and minutes of meetings across multiple teams required a centralized solution that could be customized to fit the organization’s unique business challenges.
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Ministry Health Care
App Name: Agenda/Minutes for Meeting Management
Developed by Senior Applications Analyst Patti Dornacker, The Agenda/Minutes for Meeting Management application helps Ministry Health Care leaders plan and track meetings from a central location in Intuit QuickBase. As one of more than 250 apps available in the Intuit QuickBase Exchange, Patti’s app has been downloaded more than 1,200 times. In this interview, we discussed the app, how it’s helped her business, and why the secret to building a great app is to work backward.
What was the driving force behind the Agenda/Minutes for Meeting Management, and what problem did it solve?
Since many of our leaders are on multiple teams, we wanted a standard way for all of our system teams to record information for their meetings. It had to be easy enough that any leader could open the application and take minutes since many teams rotate that task. Team members also needed to be able to quickly and easily find information or documents from past meetings.
What was the biggest challenge to developing the app?
Building one application that many diverse teams can use posed a challenge. Some teams need minutes approved before they are shared while others want the minutes available immediately. Certain teams have outside presenters who need to upload materials — but those presenters cannot view the rest of the agenda. Some teams have recurring agenda items. Other teams want to continue a discussion from previous meetings without creating new agenda items for each meeting. Through the flexibility of QuickBase we were able to meet this challenge and produce an application that meets all these needs.
What was the key to successful development of this app?
The initial application was rolled out to only one senior-level team. We monitored their use, gathered their feedback and made modifications before offering the application to any other teams. That team actually “sold” the application by telling others how easy it was to use and encouraging their direct reports to use it for their teams.
How have you improved the app since you first developed it?
Since each team that uses this application has unique needs we have made several modifications over the years.
- Our Discussion/Minutes field is a Log field (append-only) and some users did not like the fact that the text was locked, so we added a Draft Minutes field which was just plain text. This allows users to edit the text (think spell check) and then copy it into the Discussion/Minutes field later.
- Some teams have action items that don’t require the detail of a project management application. We added Action, Action Assigned To, Action Due Date and Decision fields per agenda item to accommodate this.
- Certain teams have subcommittees and wanted to share one agenda application so the Team Leader could oversee all the information in one place. In this case we actually ended up building a new application with additional tables to allow for team and date selection.
What’s the best advice you have for other QuickBase app builders?
The best way to design an application is to decide what information you need to see in reports first. Then work backward to build your tables. Each column in a report becomes a field. After you build those fields you need to determine whether or not additional fields will help your workflow. Think about things like “Do we need to know when an item is completed?” (Status field) or “Will an item need to be approved or denied by someone?” (Approved By, Approved Date, Approval Status fields). If you missed something, don’t worry. You can always add more fields later.