Education & Government
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Jill Holtz
Content Strategy Manager

Streamlining municipal board communication: The role of technology

December 11, 2023
0 min read
Streamlining municipal board communication: The role of technology

John is a municipal board member. He spends at least three hours a week preparing for and attending board meetings. For each board meeting, he must locate and review board materials that are sent to him by email, often scattered across several threads, saved to physical folders and stored on cloud platforms.

This time-consuming process has often led to John and his colleagues on the board not being prepared for the board meeting in time, as well as impacting decision-making and creating missed opportunities for the board.

Many municipal boards even continue to rely on paper-based documents for board communication.

Add to that the increasing volume and complexity of communication materials that municipal boards must handle, from agendas to reports to board meeting minutes and other correspondence.

Traditional communication methods — such as paper-based documents, email threads and physical meetings — are making it more and more difficult to manage the growing volume and complexity of information. This can result in lost or misfiled documents, duplication of efforts, and difficulty in tracking the status of board actions.

Here’s where technology can help. It can play a transformative role in streamlining municipal board communication and enhancing governance effectiveness.

Challenges with traditional municipal board communication

As we saw with the example of John above, communication using paper or email leads to time-consuming processes, where workflows have to be completed using either multiple copies or multiple versions of documents or emails.

Storing key information in different places means inefficiencies for board members in retrieving the right information at the right time.

By working on paper or email, or within file drives, there can be accessibility issues for board members using different devices trying to access different things at different times. Security is also tricky – how can you make sure everyone gets the right level of access to documents? What about access to those containing sensitive information?

Then there’s the issue of transparency and trust among your community’s stakeholders. Without a regularly updated public transparency website, community engagement is naturally limited, and there’s a danger that the public will receive incorrect information through other channels, such as social media.

The impact of ineffective board communication

We have seen the impact on a single board member, but what about the board as a whole? Ineffective communication can have a significant and detrimental impact on municipal boards, hindering their ability to function effectively and fulfill their responsibilities. Here are some of the key consequences of ineffective communication for municipal boards:

  • Poor decision-making: When board members lack access to timely and accurate information, they struggle to make informed decisions. Ineffective communication hampers the flow of information necessary for informed decision-making. Board members may lack crucial details or perspectives, leading to suboptimal choices and policies.
  • Reduced board cohesion: Effective communication is vital for maintaining a cohesive board. When members are not on the same page, it becomes challenging to work towards shared goals and objectives, impacting overall effectiveness.
  • Inefficient meetings: Poor communication practices can lead to inefficient board meetings. Without clear agendas, pre-meeting information and effective communication, meetings may become unproductive and time-consuming.
  • Increased costs and inefficiencies: Ineffective communication can lead to increased costs and inefficiencies in various aspects of board operations. For instance, board members may spend excessive time searching for information, duplicating efforts or clarifying misunderstandings.
  • Legal and compliance issues: Inadequate communication can also lead to legal and compliance issues, particularly when it comes to meeting open records laws, providing public notice of meetings, and documenting board actions accurately.
  • Erosion of public trust: When municipal boards fail to communicate effectively with the public, it can erode public trust and confidence in their ability to govern effectively. This can lead to apathy, cynicism, and a reluctance to engage with local government.
  • Difficulty in tracking actions: Without clear and consistent communication about board actions, it becomes difficult to track progress, monitor implementation, and hold individuals accountable. This can lead to a lack of transparency, confusion about responsibilities, and a sense of disorganization.

Mitigating board communication challenges

Addressing communication challenges is essential for fostering a healthy board environment, ensuring effective governance, and promoting the success of municipal initiatives. To mitigate these negative impacts and foster effective communication, municipal boards should:

  1. Adopt clear communication policies: Establish clear guidelines for communication, including protocols for disseminating information, responding to inquiries and handling sensitive matters.
  2. Use technology solutions: Leverage technology, such as board management software, to streamline communication, share documents and support board meeting preparation.
  3. Embrace transparency: Commit to open and transparent communication practices, ensuring that all relevant information is readily accessible to board members, staff, and the public. Technology can build bridges and close disparities.
  4. Encourage active participation: Foster a culture of active participation, encouraging board members to engage in discussions, share their perspectives and provide feedback.
  5. Seek professional training: Invest in professional training for board members and staff to enhance their communication skills, conflict resolution strategies and meeting facilitation techniques.

By prioritizing effective communication, municipal boards can strengthen their decision-making processes, find time efficiencies, build public trust, and improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of local governance.

Technology as a communication enabler

Board management software provides centralized communication, a “single source of truth,” and a way to consolidate and organize board materials for transparency, both among the board itself and also to the public.

By providing the public with easy access to board materials — including agenda postings, live meeting streams and archived minutes — technology can enhance accessibility and transparency. Your website is key for citizen communication, but stakeholders can also register for text messages and email alerts to stay up to date on upcoming meetings, or track progress on significant projects and community initiatives.

3 key steps for implementing technology for effective board communication

When considering board management technology, here are 3 key steps you will need to undertake:

  1. Identify communication needs and goals: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the board's current communication practices, challenges and goals. Identify the specific areas where board management software can bring the most value, such as streamlining agenda creation, improving document management or enhancing public transparency.
  2. Select the right technology: Research and evaluate various board management software solutions, considering factors such as ease of use, scalability, features, security and integration with existing systems.
  3. Provide training: Adequate training and support should be provided for board members and administrative staff. This can take the form of hands-on training, user guides and ongoing support to ensure a smooth transition and adoption of the software.

Board management technology has emerged as a transformative tool for municipal boards, offering many benefits including streamlined communication and strengthened governance effectiveness. By embracing technology and adopting board management software, municipal boards can navigate the complexities of local governance, foster greater transparency and accountability, and ultimately serve their communities with greater efficiency and impact.

Diligent Community supports municipal boards as they work together. The document library allows board members and staff to quickly pull up past information, if needed. Board members can access information anytime, anywhere and on any device. Reports from committees, staff, consultants, or other key stakeholders can be distributed quickly and easily. Find out how Diligent Community can streamline your board communication and help you reach your goals for your community and constituents.


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