Putting together an agenda and the agenda packet, from documents to spreadsheets, is no easy task. The additional challenge of trying to figure out if the latest version is ready to go, only to tack on extra hours worth of printing and collating, can keep your staff scrambling until the meeting has come and gone. To help put all of this material together is agenda and meeting management software. Over the past five years, this relatively new software has improved drastically. Here's how:
1. Easier to Use
Today, 100 percent cloud-based software options in meeting technology have become readily available. These solutions require no technical knowledge and little to no IT support. First-generation systems used to demand municipalities to change their processes to fit the agenda management system’s process. New SaaS solutions allow for customization and easily configure your workflow, process, and formatting.
Old software required staff to input content directly into HTML web forms. With new and modern technologies, users can upload existing Microsoft Word documents into the web form. These Word-based solutions eliminate the formatting headaches and limitations of the older, form-based software systems. You now have the power to dictate the look and feel of your agenda.
2. More Accessible
Advancements in technology have made it easier for residents to participate in meetings with municipal leaders. Residents, elected officials, and municipal staff can view upcoming meeting schedules, agendas, and supporting documents in real-time via the municipal website. Anyone can easily sign up to receive notifications of the updated meeting information. Access to past meetings, agendas, and minutes is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Launching a display that allows meeting attendees to follow along with the action is as easy as loading a URL on any computer and streaming it to a display in chambers. This display shows a clerk’s activities on a monitor, right in the meeting chamber, so that viewers can follow along with roll call, agenda items, key discussion points, and live voting.
If someone cannot make a council meeting in person, they can always pull up the display on their laptop, smartphone, or tablet and watch a meeting online, hassle-free. This ensures no one misses a meeting.
3. Better Integrations
Today’s meeting solutions seamlessly integrate with an existing website. This allows for municipalities to do more with less staff and budget. A clerk administering the meeting can have all vital meeting information automatically pushed into place on the municipal website’s calendaring system. Anyone who signs up for notifications automatically gets reminded of a new meeting, directed to the agenda, and alerted on the calendar. At the meeting’s conclusion, minutes are posted, and the public is kept abreast of any new developments.
4. Increased Transparency
In the internet age, residents expect to find information online. Even more so, they expect to see it quickly. When important content cannot be found, residents begin to question the integrity of their local government. Thankfully, posting the minutes from your meetings fixes this issue. Keeping your residents informed of what goes on in your meetings and other workings builds trust among the community and government. Merely putting your meeting minutes online gives residents a window into what their local government is doing with their tax dollars. As a result, the public’s view of government will trend more positively.
5. More Affordable
When agenda and meeting management solutions became available to local governments, the only options introduced were onsite, server-based solutions with labor-intensive customization. Initial coding setup and minor customization used to come with a hefty initial and annual fee. A high price tag kept small and medium municipalities from utilizing these solutions. As with all technology, consumer price inevitably comes down over time. Meeting and agenda management is no exception. Most modern SaaS solutions have no set-up fee and population-based subscription pricing, removing cost barriers.
As you can see a lot has changed over the last decade with government technology, if you think your municipality cannot afford to automate your agenda management process or the technology is too complex to integrate, perhaps you need to take a fresh look at what the market has to offer.