Beyond the Boardroom: C-Suite Document Management for Administrative Committees

Lena Eisenstein

If you’re a superintendent using BoardDocs software for your business with the school board or the board of education, you’ve had a taste of the mastery and ease that it puts at your fingertips. If only three people can read a confidential document while the public sees a scrubbed version of the same document, you can make it happen with a keystroke. If colleagues around the country are contributing comments to a document, you can keep them all on the same page with a portal that refreshes the shared copy for everybody whenever someone makes changes. The trouble is: The bulk of your paperwork is not board business.

Now it’s possible to bring the same useful features to the high volume of documents that move through your administrative committees. BoardDocs Plus extends the same granular level of security and robust document management to all the committees that do the heavy lifting.  Consider the difference it could make in two common scenarios:

Scenario A

The Procurement Committee solicits RFPs for math software, grants one vendor a contract and announces the acquisition.  In the past, all the RFPs would be dumped in one file with notes on negotiations, budget constraints, Procurement Committee meeting minutes recording the final vote count and the resulting contract. The school board would see this large and cluttered dumping grounds, without focus or orientation.

BoardDocs Plus streamlines the process from soup to nuts:

  1. A single “publisher” for the committee, the chair or a clerk, controls all the versions of all the documents. She determines who sees what level of detail in a planned sequence. With other committee chairs or clerks performing the same functions, this capacity relieves the superintendent or her assistant of the overwhelming task of distributing, tracking and filing mountains of documentation.
  2. That publisher makes all the RFPs available to all the members of the committee, who then review them. The repository of documents destined for the committee does notdo double duty as the site that the board will see after final approval. At the end of the process, the winning RFP and the contract can easily be imported to a separate filing cabinet for the board to see.
  3. To assess bids, the superintendent or committee chair can actually see what other districts in the country paid for the same software. BoardDocs Plus gives authorized users access to a designated database of notes from other K–12 educators among its clientele – and it’s searchable by keyword.  For example, by typing in “Trig Wiz!” in a metasearch text field, the chair can see the completed contracts and committee meeting notes related to that software from other school districts that have bought it.
  4. The committee approves one vendor at a set price point. The chair then sends the chosen vendor’s RFP to the chair of the Finance Committee and then on to the Superintendent for approval. She does that by simply typing in their names in the order they are to see the document and sign off on it, providing a deadline to receive both of their approvals.  The software does the rest: It first sends the materials to the treasury chair. When the treasury chair returns it with his approval, the software is triggered to then send it to the superintendent for his signature.
  5. The superintendent selects which of the documents generated during the process the board will see, which other administrators will see and which the public will see. The clutter faced by the committee is not reflected in the public presentation.
  6. Procuring this software was identified as one of five steps the district would make this year to reach its goal of improving the math curriculum. When the superintendent completes the contract, it signals the software that one of those five steps has been completed. A dashboard that appears front and center on the board portal adds another 20% to the completion status of this strategic goal. If two other steps have already been completed, the board sees instantly that the district is 60% of the way to the year’s goal of improving the math curriculum.

Scenario B

At the request of the state board of education, the Curriculum Committee researches multicultural material policies used nationwide, drafts a preliminary policy, opens it to public discussion at a school board meeting and decides on a final version to submit to the state. To do so, it needs to store research materials for contributors to read, keep track of changes made by the committee as members freely make confidential comments on a shared document, and create a presentable version for the public-facing website. With BoardDocs Plus, it’s a breeze:

  1. Whether the state assigns background readings or committee members find sources on their own, they can be kept in an archive that the committee members can access with ease.  Searchability by keyword makes it possible to find the points most relevant to individual users’ concerns, and free unlimited storage accommodates any volume of dissertations and legislative codes on the subject.
  2. Again, the “sneak peek” feature gives the committee an edge: It extends the search for materials beyond what is published on the internet to include the unpublished notes and policies filed away by other BoardDocs’ members.
  3. The recommendations of all the committee members can be directed to a designated super-editor, who writes a preliminary draft.  He posts that draft on the board portal, with the security designation reliably restricting access to board members.
  4. Same-page collaborative editing incorporates the confidential edits of all the committee members in the order in which they are received. If the English teacher on the committee posts remarks on Monday, those markups will be included in the version accessed on the portal Tuesday by the parent on the committee. The parent can even tell that it was the English teacher who made the remarks. No markups will become final until the committee votes – or the super-editor hits “accept changes” and smooths over the resulting document.
  5. The polished finished product can be posted on the portal with a security designation that makes it accessible to the public before the open school board meeting. With a simple click, it can be filed as an attachment to the agenda that is posted on the public-facing website in compliance with open meeting laws. In the same way, the committee chair can move any of the research articles that proved influential into the public viewing space.
  6. The comments by individual committee members as the document was being crafted and finalized will never appear before the board or the public. If someone typed a conflicting or problematic comment in the margins, that would stay behind closed doors. Thus, the committee presents a united front to its constituents.
  7. As the “superpublisher,” the superintendent could access any of those comments. For most issues, she may wish only to read the smooth finished product, but she can retain oversight of any materials.
  8. As multicultural curriculum development was a stated priority of the school board when it hired the superintendent, she can tag her choice of these materials for inclusion in her year-end evaluation portfolio. When the time comes, a single keystroke will pull up this documentation, as well as everything else that she tagged throughout the year that bears upon her professional performance.

BoardDocs has long brought to boards an enviable degree of razor-edge precision and top-level security. With BoardDocs Plus, superintendents can bring that excellence and ease to the administrative committees that routinely handle a high volume of sensitive, collaborative, evolving documents. With BoardDocs Plus, the superintendent can retain supervisory powers while delegating the details of distribution, filing and updating documents to committee chairs. C-suite document management: It’s not just for boards anymore.

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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.