A contact report documents a meeting between two parties, who are working on a project together. For example, a salesperson meeting their client, a client with a consultant, a buying team with a design team, or a solicitor with their client.
It is a good practice for one person to make a note of the proceedings and later circulate them to everyone present, perhaps including interested parties who were not present.
I find this is a highly effective method of logging progress on a project, and a good starting point when you are preparing or preparation for the next meeting. It also goes some way to ensuring that the actions which were agreed at the meeting are completed before the next meeting.
A salesperson always writes a contact report, submitting it to their sales manager, so there is a record of the meeting. This report has many uses. The manager may read it and give feedback, or may decide to attend a future meeting based on what they have read in the report.
If the sales person were not available for the next meetings for any reason –perhaps illness, change of job, there is a record of what the client asked for, ordered, or purchased.
This is very similar to taking meeting minutes, because the function of them is the same;-
- They are a record of a meeting’s events
- They are a record of decisions that were made, actions decided, and who is responsible for the action.
- They record who attended the meeting
- They can be a point of information for anyone who couldn’t attend the meeting, for example the Team manager or other members of the team.
- They can also be a reminder for those who did attend the meeting.
- They can be read at the next meeting if it is a regular meeting. This enables the points covered at the previous meeting to be reviewed and moved along, ensuring nothing is forgotten.
- The action points can remind delegates about tasks they need to complete or follow up when the report is circulated.
Just as in minute taking, the report records who attends the meeting, the date and location, and sums up each discussion point. If there is a long discussion, perhaps even a heated debate on a point, there is no need to record that, but just summarise the outcome. If there is some dissension you could record that. It is a matter of discretion as to what information is useful to the group.
It is important to record the next steps, who is responsible, and when any actions should be completed.
There may be opportunity for some more subjective reporting in this type of document, depending on the companies and their cultures. BUT do remember that the report may be circulated to delegates from both companies, so refrain from writing anything you would not want seen by their management!