Of all the recommended post-customer advisory board (CAB) meeting deliverables (meeting report, ongoing engagement plan and action tracker), we not only get a lot of questions about how to prioritize, manage and track resulting meeting action items, we see companies sometimes stumble here. On the one hand, it’s perhaps understandable: CAB managers may feel overwhelmed with potential actions to take and now must rely on other people and departments to commit to completing them. On top of that, your members will want to know in future engagements that their input has been heard and your company is moving on their recommendations.
When it comes to post-CAB meeting action tracking, here are five “must-do” tips to ensure critical actions get completed.
1. Create an action tracker document: We recommend creating a specific list of potential actions your company can take as a result of your recent CAB meeting, which comes from the notes taken by your meeting scribe as well as the takeaways from all host-company participants. We call this, not surprisingly, an “action tracker” document (which we create in Excel for easy sorting). It includes potential actions, priorities, the person in charge of overseeing the action and planned deliverable deadlines. The action tracker is really a menu of possible actions – your company may not be able to do all of them for myriad reasons – it’s up to you to select and prioritize those (perhaps the top 10?) you want to tackle that will make the most positive impact to your company.
2. Review with your CAB stakeholders: You’ll want to review the actions with your CAB stakeholder team to help determine those you want to accept, what priorities they are, what can be done quickly and easily, which ones may take more time, and target deliverable timelines. Your stakeholders need to take a vested interest in reviewing these, so pick a meeting time they can all participate, contribute and focus.
3. Gather commitments: When committing to an action item, it’s important to assign the name of the person who will ensure the action is completed. If not, perhaps not surprisingly, the action may languish and never get finished. Make sure the person assigned to the action fully understands it, is committed to overseeing its completion and is prepared to enlist others if necessary to do so. If managed and communicated effectively, you won’t encounter those assigned to actions who don’t remember them, understand them or pass them off to others after they have committed to them (all of which I have seen happen).
4. Track progress: The CAB manager will want to track the progress of action items over the course of months when they are supposed to be completed. This can be done either as part of other, standard management meetings or by setting up a specific CAB action tracking call. If anyone is falling behind, not making progress or not taking the assignment seriously, the executive sponsor may need to get involved to ensure progress is made. (Long ago, I had a guy assigned with several actions ignore his until a couple weeks before the next CAB meeting. Don’t let this happen to you!)
5. Report back to members: In each subsequent CAB engagement, the actions your company has taken and the status of each should be reported back to your members. Seeing these should make them satisfied that your company has heard them and is taking action based on their recommendations. (The opposite is also true – your CAB members will lose interest in your program if they are unsure what (if anything) is being done with their input.) This progress report could also be a motivator for your action leader: do they want to get in front of your members (and upper management) in a few months with no progress to show?
When managed effectively, your CAB meeting almost certainly uncovered an abundance of member ideas, suggestions, and desires – and potential action items for your company to take on. Capture all of these, prioritize them, assign a plan, deadline and leader to manage each who will see them to conclusion. Doing so will not only positively impact your company, but close the loop on your strong CAB program.