It’s easy to get stuck in old ways of doing things. It doesn't matter if it takes longer or requires more work, it’s familiar and gets done almost completely out of habit. Tom Spengler, Granicus CEO, led a great session at IIMC which showed municipal clerks how to break old habits and work smarter. There was clearly a lot of interest in this topic. The room was packed with 80-100 people!
Since the session was two hours, I’ve summarized below 4 ways to help government work smarter. Additionally, we’ve published a few short video clips from the session.
1. Embrace built-in paperless and automated workflows
We found that local government agencies across the country collectively consume roughly 1,502,753,760 pages of paper and more than 112,000 trees just on the Agenda packet generation process. This tells us that government agencies are still heavily dependent on paper to plan, prepare, and run their democratic process. This involves a lot of staff time, money, and manual effort. Tom talked about the benefits of automating agenda and records workflows. Instead of manually typing and retyping ordinance numbers and descriptions into Microsoft Word documents over and over again, governments need built-in automation where data is entered once and the entire history of a legislative file and associated records and actions are stored and tracked automatically. Granicus understands this. Our Meeting Efficiency Suite and Legislative Management Suite solutions work together to create a completely digital, paperless environment for the legislative process. It saves staff time, promotes better accuracy, and shifts government into a new age of accessibility where information is available at the click of a button or at your fingertips instead of stored in a file cabinet.
2. Connecting agendas to the iPad
Using a digital, automated legislative solution allows your data to become accessible and mobile like never before. This year, iPads are experiencing explosive growth in the government sector. iPads were a very hot topic at IIMC. Council, boards, and other elected bodies are increasingly adopting iPads to view and annotate agenda packets paperlessly. They are finding that they are a much more efficient way to prepare and take notes during public meetings.
Any good iPad app for government agendas should automatically sync to your enterprise legislative workflow solution. This ensures you have access to most recent data at your fingertips. With Granicus iLegislate, agenda data syncs automatically to our legislative solutions and the Granicus cloud so there is no risk of data loss and you always have the latest version of the agenda at your fingertips. See how Maricopa City Council is using iPads to replace paper agenda packets during their public meetings with iLegislate, the video speaks for itself.
3. Connecting with citizens online
Citizen interactions in town halls, in-person visits, written letters, or telephone calls can consume a lot of staff time. Questions are answered and feedback is gathered through these mediums, but it’s not stored and tracked anywhere centrally. Tom talked about the new era of civic engagement and participation online which uses crowdsourcing and online feedback forums to link citizen comments, views and opinions directly to the government process. These tools enable your community to help prioritize what issues matter most to them, and it enables them to even provide input on projects and particular agenda topics up for discussion at the next meeting. As a result, input is timely, actionable, and measurable.
Granicus’ just upgraded its Citizen Participation Suite to meet these goals. Modernizing your citizen interactions with technology is important. It promotes more meaningful and productive dialogue—and it can even help you cut costs if you choose a solution that’s automated.
4. Information sharing across systems
Lastly, Tom also talked about the benefit of having your systems connect together. Your data— agendas, minutes, meeting, citizen input—should be centrally managed and accessible easily online and on mobile devices.
Below is a video that's well worth watching. In it are clips from the session where Tom talks about some of the difficulties (sometimes humorous ones) that municipal clerks face, the cost of paper, how iPads affect the bottom line, what cities like Milwaukee, Maricopa, and Austin have done to automate worklfows and raise community engagement in an organized fashion.
- IIMC Session Review: Dealing with Change inside Government
- IIMC Session Review: How to Create a Government Social Media Polic
- IIMC Session Review: Government Reinvention Made Easy
This article is part of our IIMC 2012 series, which can be found here.