It can be a frustrating, repeating cycle that you just can’t break. Every time you begin to prepare for your municipality’s next board meeting, you contact all staff and board members and ask for agenda items. You give them a specific, hard deadline, and then you wait. And wait. Your deadline approaches and you’ve received one or two responses. You start reminding individual staff members and you get a few more items. Then three revisions. Then your deadline passes. And you wait. More reminders. More revisions. More outstanding items. Now it’s the day of the meeting and you’re scrambling to organize a still-changing agenda and supporting documents, all while trying not to over-stress. After all, this is what happens every month, so it’s okay, right?
Scrambling to put agendas together at the last minute and stressing over outstanding items does not have to be an unspoken job expectation for a city or county clerk. You have an important job to do, but the actual process of assembling agenda packets and supporting documents can take days and become a complicated mess due to conflicting feedback and seemingly unending iterative modifications to key documents. While it can be a challenge to manage busy staff members and civic leaders, who are also doing their best to be organized and prepared for upcoming meetings, there are ways you can streamline your agenda creation process that will free up more of your time, while still ensuring your meetings are prepared for a flawless execution.
1. Set a realistic deadline, but give yourself a cushion. Part of the reason clerks receive last-minute agenda topics and updated documents is due to the fact that municipalities are busy places with important ongoing activities. Presenters and staff want to provide the latest and most accurate information which could change up until the last minute. These situations are unavoidable. To best manage items that are in process, as well as items that aren’t expected to change, set a deadline of a few days in advance for the receipt of agenda items and supporting documents. This should give you time to organize your agenda and agenda packets and will give you a cushion for those individuals who will inevitably be late providing information. That leads us to number two.
2. Help key players understand the importance of your deadline. If every month you set a deadline, and every month it’s not enforced, staff will start to think of your deadline as a recommendation. Try to hold firm to the deadline, as best you can. Explain to those who are regularly tardy that their inability to provide agenda items in a timely manner could impact the effectiveness of the meeting, since the time you have to make updates to agenda packets is limited.
3. Follow up early and often. If you don’t start reminding staff members to turn in agenda items until after your deadline has passed, you’ll constantly be working behind your deadline. Aside from the initial call for agenda items and deadline notification, remind staff members two days before your deadline, the day before, and the day of the deadline. In many instances, this countdown-style reminder gives the push needed for staff to provide information on time.
Civic Tip If you’re feeling like you don’t have time in your already busy day to send multiple reminders, consider investing in agenda and meeting management software. Such tools help to automate reminders, format agendas, and collate supporting documents to help save you time while streamlining your document organization processes.
CivicClerk® is the fastest, most intuitive way to automate agenda management, meeting minutes management, and the sharing of meeting content with board members, staff, and your citizens. It has been specifically designed to enable local governments to streamline the entire agenda packet collaboration and approval process and reduce paper and increase staff efficiency with mobile-optimized solutions. To learn more about how CivicClerk can help you ensure your agendas are created on time, click below to schedule a demo of our powerful software.