Interview

How to automate Meeting Notes for 1-on-1 meetings

"Meetical helped us to put theory into practice."
Enrique Fernández - Bluelabs
VP of Engineering

Interview

How to automate Meeting Notes for 1-on-1 meetings

Bluelabs is a fully distributed software company and they were the first to use our Meeting Notes App for 1-on-1 meetings. They love automating all the things, including meeting notes. We've got a chance to speak with Enrique, the VP of engineering, and found out that "Meetical is the glue"!

Customer Interview

Lukas Gotter (Meetical):

Hi Enrique, nice to meet you, and thanks for taking the time for the interview. You are VP of engineering at Bluelabs, and became a customer of Meetical a few months ago. I’m really excited to hear your feedback today.

First question: What was the situation like before Meetical, can you recall how you found us?

Enrique Fernández (Bluelabs):

Hi Lukas! Sure, let me explain. At Bluelabs we've gone through different phases or stages. We are a remote-first company with a fully distributed team and from the very beginning, knew that when working remotely we have to do things a little bit differently.

When you work in a remote environment, one of the most important things is communication.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

When you work in a remote environment, one of the most important things is communication. So we know that communication is key for us. We can’t rely on traditional office-style communication and meetings, and exchanges in front of the coffee machine, right?

In a remote setup, there are fewer side-conversations, and it would only be those individuals involved in any discussion to know the result of any meeting or discussion.

From the very beginning we defined to document our meetings so that we spread knowledge and can use our meeting notes for future reference. We agreed to document a summary, the action points and the decisions that we make, so we can always go back and see why we're doing things the way we do. And we don't have to repeat things. In the beginning, we started out very well with this approach.

Over time we missed documenting important decisions and action points got lost.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

We were documenting important things in Confluence, but that was in the early days. Perhaps there was also less pressure on the team. as soon as we started shifting into a more intense working phase, we started worrying less about processes and we started focusing more on the actual development.

I think we started to relax a little bit on those things that we agreed upon at the beginning and we were documenting less and less. We missed documenting important decisions, our action points got lost and we didn't have the minutes of our meetings. We all acknowledged that that was an issue.

That’s why I started looking for tools that will assist us in the process of documenting and managing our meetings. With our best practice defined, to document all key meetings on Confluence, we all knew what we wanted to achieve, but we found it a little bit tedious to do it right in our daily work.

We had Google Calendars to know when our meetings were taking place or to schedule meetings. And we had Atlassian Confluence to document all sorts of things, including our meetings. Additionally, we use Twist for certain discussions, which we believe is also a very good tool to document things. So we had the right tools but what we were lacking was the habit of using them in certain cases. Creating Meeting Notes on Confluence and linking that page in the invite were additional manual steps that you often postpone and forget. The result was that we did not always have a meeting page at hand when we needed it and that's how we came across Meetical.

I started looking for tools that will assist us in the process of documenting and managing our meetings.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

Lukas Gotter: Great story, that’s really amazing to hear since that is the exact first problem definition of Meetical when we started to build a solution. And how did Meetical solve this problem or help to change the situation?

Enrique Fernández:

Since we started to use Meetical, we've also started to document our meetings more and more again. Meetical helped us, we knew that we wanted to document our meeting results, but we were not doing it. Now, we still know and want to do this, but we're actually doing it! It definitely helped us to put our theory into practice so to say.

Meetical helped us to put theory into practice.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

Why Meetical? Well, we've always been very reluctant to add new tools to our tool belt because we believe that we already have plenty of them. And we also believe that less is more. And what I personally like, and I believe the entire team is with me is that Meetical is almost invisible. It’s not really a new tool, but it acts as a middle man between Confluence and – in our case – Google calendar. And with both tools, we are very happy. We certainly don't plan to replace any of these.

So Meetical is the glue that sits between these two tools and makes it all happen. It's very seamless and deeply integrated. So you don't really notice a new tool you need to learn. It just works. And that's what we were looking for! We also evaluated some other tools. Now I can’t recall the names, but they were like “yet another tool”, only for documenting your meetings, right? But I didn't want to use them to document our meetings outside of Confluence because we already have Confluence for our documentation. Yeah, so that's why I believe that Meetical is the right tool for us.

Meetical is the glue that sits between these two tools and makes it all happen. It's very seamless and deeply integrated. So you don't really notice a new tool you need to learn. It just works.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

Lukas Gotter: Nice. And, what type of meetings do you document with Meetical and Confluence?

Enrique Fernández:

So I would say that pretty much everything. The most obvious ones for us are the 1-on-1s. And for these ones, it was actually very important to have a Confluence page created in advance because we use this Confluence page – which is private only to those participating in the 1-on-1 – to prepare the items that we want to discuss during that meeting.

The idea for the 1-on-1 is that we want the agenda to be shared as soon as possible. And I encourage people to add items to the agenda as they happen or come to their minds, right? So when they are still “hot”, because otherwise they may forget them or drop them for other reasons. I believe that these things can be really important, even if you only thought that it was important for a split second, I think it's probably worthwhile discussing it. And if you have to create a new Confluence page to drop an idea or argument, add such an item to the agenda, it’s too complicated, it’s not going to happen. So that’s also how Meetical helps us! We now actually have a page at hand any time, reachable fast from both Confluence and the Calendar. Adding input to the agenda or finding results is fast and easy now.

Besides the 1-on-1 feedback meetings, we are using it for the regular demos that we run every other week and we're using it for the lean coffees. We run two types of lean coffee meetings, one with all the employees within the company and another one only with engineering leads, which are the technical team leads here at Bluelabs.
We created our own meeting templates and we are using different templates for these different meetings.

Generally, the idea is that we want to use Meetical and Confluence to document pretty much all the meetings that we have. Even ad hoc meetings! What we are doing is that we go to the meeting or even create it on-the-fly. I personally use the Confluence Chrome Extension and I just go to the calendar event and press the Add Confluence Page button. And that's it.

We now actually have a page at hand any time, reachable fast from both Confluence and the Calendar. Adding input to the agenda or finding results is fast and easy now.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

Lukas Gotter: Cool. Let’s speak of one of the newly added features, the automatic creation of pages for recurring meetings. You’ve been one of the drivers behind meeting automation for us – by the way, thank you very much for that. So, how are you satisfied with that new feature? How does it work?

Enrique Fernández:

Yes. So actually, thanks for acting on it so quickly, because for us that was a real game-changer. And actually, in the beginning, when we evaluated Meetical, I was a little bit sad to see that that feature was not available because I knew automation means a lot to us here at Bluelabs - especially as engineers – and I immediately felt that it will add lots of value for us.

We wanted to automatically create the meeting pages for recurring events and put a link to it in the calendar invite, especially for our regular 1-on-1s. So we can forget that task and a meeting page gets created some days in advance automatically. Well, you built that feature and it’s working great!

One might think that given Meetical makes it so simple already to create meeting notes on Confluence just by clicking a button that could be enough however, it’s still a manual thing and generally a repetitive task. So if we have to manually create the Confluence page chances are that that will not happen and the meeting will not be prepared well or documented at all. We tend to record our meetings on Zoom, but even if you go through the recording at double speed, it still takes a lot of time.

We definitely prefer curated minutes over recordings wherever possible. So the automatic creation of a Confluence page for the recurring meetings has – without having the exact numbers – it has greatly impacted us and contributed to increasing the number of meetings that were documented and had good minutes. Most of this gets done during the meeting or at the end of it, at the moment.

The automatic creation of a Confluence page for the recurring meetings has greatly impacted us and contributed to increasing the number of meetings that were documented and had good minutes.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs

Lukas Gotter: Amazing to hear this. Anything else that comes to your mind, that you want to share?

Enrique Fernández:

I think that Meetical is a very good tool! It’s one of those tools that I would recommend to any company who uses Confluence. I even find it surprising that such a tool didn't exist before! I certainly see this taking off and gaining many more customers. Especially now with COVID, since many companies have been forced to work remotely more and more.

Meetical is a very good tool. It’s one of those tools that I would recommend to any company who uses Confluence.
Enrique Fernández, VP of Engineering at Bluelabs
Lukas Gotter:

That's really good feedback and great to hear. You made my day!

So to finish, the typical product manager question: How likely are you to recommend the app to colleagues and friends on a scale from zero, not likely, to 10, very likely?

Enrique Fernández:

I would say the answers will be 10, or… maybe nine because I tend to remove the outliers. So for me, very, very likely. So, as I said, it's a tool that I will certainly recommend.

Lukas Gotter:

That's really good feedback and great to hear. You made my day!

Amazing to hear. Well then, thank you so much for the interview and have an amazing day!

– This Interview took place on August 12th 2020. -

Bluelabs is a software company with a fully distributed team that includes 15+ awesome software engineers located in more than 8 different countries. The company is building the sports betting platform of tomorrow. www.bluelabs.com

Meetical is offering the cutting edge App “Meetical Meetings” to help companies truly excel at meetings, by using Confluence Meeting Notes and the tools customers already have and love. www.meetical.io


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