How Clerks Can Apply Agenda Management for Lighter Workloads

Lena Eisenstein

The clerk’s desk contains a highway of important paperwork; in fact, few documents circulate around a municipal government office without getting touched by the city clerk. The municipal clerk’s fast-paced, multifaceted job requires them to constantly multitask and squeeze in work every minute they can.

Most clerks will tell you that they’re ready to hear about any solution that helps to save time and lighten their load. To address those needs, iCompass, a Diligent brand, designed an electronic agenda management tool and several other software solutions that streamline the clerk’s workflow so they can use their extra time to address more important issues.

Cloud-based document storage is a huge time-saver that allows clerks to access documents within seconds by doing an online search of the database, rather than spend hours looking through file cabinets stored in various facilities. The agenda management solutions integrate with other common office software products, which allows clerks to work seamlessly and safely within the space of one platform.

The Transparency Portal by iCompass gives citizens an opportunity to pull up council meeting agendas from the convenience of their laptop, electronic tablet or mobile phone. This is a huge time-saver for clerks, because they will no longer get flooded with requests for council meeting agendas.

Online File Storage and Secure Electronic Sharing

Going paperless not only gets mountains of paper off the clerk’s desk, but an online file storage system provides clerks with many benefits. Even if that hard-to-find document isn’t stored in the proper electronic file, it’s easy to locate with a quick electronic search.

Cloud-based storage keeps all files in order in one central location. Staff from all departments can easily retrieve the documents they need on their own, without sending requests to the clerk all day. The clerk and staff can securely share documents like the agenda with just a few mouse clicks.

iCompass looked at the types of programs that clerks and other municipal staff need to prepare for council meetings in addition to agenda management. That’s why iCompass products integrated other programs, including Laserfiche, SharePoint and Granicus. It’s also possible to integrate others, such as EarthChannel Connectors, Contract Tracker and Public Records Request Tracker.

Rather than running around the government office or between various buildings to hunt down documents, clerks can find what they need online, electronically attach those documents to their agendas, minutes and other items, then publish them to the Transparency Portal for the public’s information. What used to take hours to accomplish, clerks can now accomplish in just a few minutes.

Building Agendas Electronically

Creating agendas for council meetings has long been a staple of the clerk’s job, and also one of the most frustrating aspects. Building a good agenda for a council meeting is highly important, so it’s vital that clerks get it right. The council is depending on them. The citizens are counting on them. In an effort to have the most productive meeting possible, last-minute changes are common.

By simply dragging and dropping items into a template, meeting management that used to take hours can now be done in minutes. Clerks can publish the agenda and any updates in real time, and council members can pull them up on any electronic device wherever they happen to be.

Getting updates sooner means that council members and staff can review the agenda and leave paperless notes or sticky notes on it using any electronic device. iCompass also offers a free AgendaNotes iPad app. Users can quickly navigate the pages, rather than leafing through numerous pages of information trying to get to one particular document.

Providing access to online agendas and minutes is easy with the iCompass website widget, which generates an HTML code users can drop into any web page.

Since the meeting agenda and all the meeting documents are online, council members don’t have to drag large meeting packets around with them. Instead of ruffling through papers during the meeting, council members can easily pull up the agenda, reports and other documents on a small tablet during the meeting.

Building Minutes Electronically

There is a lot for clerks to keep track of during council meetings. The electronic agenda and minutes applications are both extremely easy to use. The minutes follow the same pattern as the agenda. With many people talking throughout a fast-paced meeting, it’s easy for clerks to miss some important things that need to go into the minutes. When this happens, they may have to disrupt the meeting and ask for clarification. The minutes tool brings up a template that’s pre-filled with all the pertinent information about the meeting, including the time, date, location, council member names and all the items on the agenda.

As the council addresses each item, the clerk simply fills the details of the actions and decisions into the proper field. After the meeting is over, they can take a few minutes to revise their notes and polish them for clarity. Next, the clerk can send the completed minutes around electronically for the proper rounds of approval. Once approved, the minutes can be safely and securely stored in the electronic document storage filing system.

Clerks can also publish them online, along with the agenda, on the Transparency Portal. This process allows clerks to publish meeting minutes quickly for the public to access online. The Transparency Portal is seamlessly attached to the municipal government’s website. It has the same look and feel as the government’s website. The portal is a place where citizens can go to access meeting agendas and minutes, and request documents via the Freedom of Information Act on their own, without having to wait until the local government office opens up in the morning. By the time the clerk arrives at work, citizens already have the documents they wanted in their hands.

The money that local governments save on time and office supplies by not having to print out documents more than pays for the cost of the agenda management system that iCompass, a Diligent brand, provides specifically for local governments.

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Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.