Education & Government
Jennifer Rose Hale Image
Jennifer Rose Hale
Former Client Partner, Texas Association of School Boards

Tech choices can help take the pressure off public board members

November 23, 2023
0 min read
Tech choices can help take the pressure off public board members

Whether they serve on school boards or city councils, local leaders face similar pressures: balancing tight budgets, maintaining transparency and responsiveness, answering demands and maximizing positive outcomes for constituents, and complying with state and federal legislation, to name just a few.

In the current climate, a brighter spotlight has been shone on these leaders, making them the focal point for societal conflict over issues big and relatively small.

Earlier, we examined the pressures board and city council members operate under. Now, let’s consider more fully how technology — and specifically the use of purposefully designed board management software — can help local leaders face their many shared challenges and alleviate those pressures.

Turning to technology to alleviate pressure

Running for office is the first challenge many board and council members face, but it is by no means the last — and technology has a part to play in facing each one.

Helping to streamline budgeting

The rollercoaster of government budgets over the last few years — inflation, COVID relief funds, supply shortages and the like — have made an already difficult task even more unpredictable. Technology innovations as well as increasing cybercrime have forced many public organizations to reexamine their IT budgets, a difficult task when funds are already tight.

There are two key reasons to consider the role a board management solution can play in easing the budgeting process. By being a feature-rich, all-in-one solution for the leadership team, the board management tool reduces the number of paid services a board or council would need to employ to fulfill their duties.

A robust solution should include workflow management, intuitive document storage, publishing capabilities, granular permissions and communications features — all in a platform that can be accessed as needed from different devices. Together, this functionality simplifies governing at a fixed, predictable cost.

Increased data security

Second, employing quality, secure board management software reduces the likelihood stakeholders will turn to less secure options (such as email or free cloud providers) to complete their required tasks.

By using a single tool for board management work, IT resources can be focused where they need to be — not cleaning up after human error, cyber exposure or other factors.

Policy process management

Of course, budgeting is one part of the work boards and councils complete. Creating, revising and retiring policies takes up much of the governing body’s time and has its own complexities.

Each type of policy has its own demands: top-down policies necessitated by state or federal legislation (such as school boards implementing new state policies or cities responding to state or federal directives), and local policies that respond to an issue or change in the community. Both require multistep processes consensus-building among board and council members, which requires effectivene and efficienct local governments.

By using board management software, leadership groups can streamline these processes, keeping track of previous versions, reviewers, edits and approvals in one place, accessible to everyone who needs it, as well as automating publishing the final version to the board policy manual.

Document storage and access

Many local leaders have suffered through years of inconsistent document storage — using local drives, shared drives, email, paper and more, often in multiple locations. Finding the right version of the right document, and ensuring everyone is using the same version, becomes a part-time job for many on the board and administrators who support them.

Designed-for-purpose board management software makes document storage and access more intuitive, creating a single location where all parties who need it can find the right document at the right time. A quick search gets everyone to the same page. This ready access for the board and others also frees up administrators’ hours to spend on more critical work.

Conflict resolution

Achieving consensus is one of the hardest tasks a leadership team undertakes, and yet, once a decision is made the board or council must speak as one voice. Additionally, leadership bodies must address conflicts from within and without — inside the team, with staff, and potentially with grievances from the public and students. It is one of the most complex aspects of service, and it can be made easier with board management software.

By having the team on a single tool — one with workflows, built-in private annotation and automated notifications, leaders don’t lose time evaluating a topic, so they are prepared for the next board meeting to discuss it and work toward consensus. Additionally, in the grievance process, it becomes easy to find older versions of bylaws, policies and other relevant documents that shed light on the environment in which a supposed incident occurred.

Transparency and access

Public and legal expectations of access, transparency and responsiveness have changed, from open meetings laws to new post-COVID expectations of streaming meetings, leadership teams are accountable to many audiences not only for responsible decision-making, but also for the visibility of the decision-making process.

By adopting a board management solution that supports modern governance, teams have a tool that makes information about board action readily available, can be used to stream meetings, and gives various audiences the granular access they need to find information on their own schedules. For school boards who have special responsibilities, access to policies and other district data can be made readily available to students and parents.

Finding the right board management software

It’s clear that a modern board management solution has a role to play in alleviating the myriad of pressures on local leaders. Whether the pressures come from the public, oversight entities, internal board conflict or their own demands on themselves, board directors and council members can find a solution that makes service more efficient and effective and less stressful.

At Diligent, we understand the nuanced roles local leaders play and what they need to serve effectively. We’ve designed Diligent Community to be a secure platform that fills the demands of effective governance by combining multipurpose functionality with ease of use. Let us know how we can help your team.


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