Education & Government
Kathleen Vail Image
Kathleen Vail
Former Editor-in-Chief, National School Boards Association

Proven ways to encourage trustees to use your board management software

May 1, 2024
0 min read
ways to encourage trustees to use board management software

The board of the Visalia Unified School District in Central California recently moved from bimonthly meetings to monthly meetings with the help of their board management software. Their meetings became more streamlined and efficient as the paper agenda was replaced with electronic documents they could easily review and annotate. Easy access to documents saved time before, during and after meetings.

Board members’ quick adoption and use of the software also improved the public perception of the board as forward-thinking and innovative leaders. Visalia community members also appreciated the transparency made possible by the software.

Not all board members and trustees of public boards adopt new software so easily, which can make it difficult to reap the benefits of the software investment for board members, administrators and the public. Whether due to unfamiliarity with the platform or resistance to change, encouraging board members to engage with the software is crucial for maximizing its benefits.

Why adoption may be challenging for some

Encouraging the use of the software starts with understanding the reasons why some board members may find it difficult. Some reasons include:

Lack of familiarity: Board management software comes with various features and functionalities. If board members are not adequately trained on how to use these features, they may feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to navigate the platform. Without guidance, they may revert to familiar, and possibly less efficient, methods of communication and collaboration. Lack of familiarity and lack of training can make board members frustrated or disengaged.

Resistance to change: One of the primary reasons board members may not want to use board management software is resistance to change or a preference for the status quo. This resistance can stem from fear of the unknown, concerns about their ability to use the technology, or a reluctance to disrupt established routines. Some board members, particularly those from older generations, may face challenges learning to use new technology.

Lack of clear communication and expectations: Inadequate communication and unclear expectations regarding the use of the software impair adoption. If members don’t know how it fits into their roles and responsibilities, they may see it as a burden rather than a valuable tool. Without a shared understanding of the software’s purpose and benefits, board members may fail to fully appreciate its potential to streamline governance processes and improve decision-making. This can lead to disengagement or even resistance.

Busy schedules: Public board members are often volunteers who perform board service on top of their regular jobs and careers. They may sit on other boards and have commitments and responsibilities along with demanding schedules on top of their work for your board. If using the board management software is perceived as time-consuming or adds an extra layer of complexity, members may opt for traditional methods such as using email.

Concerns about security: Cybersecurity is a top issue for board members who want to make sure sensitive documents and personal information are safeguarded. Without reassurances or an understanding of how board management software can project against cyber hacking, board members could be reluctant to use the software.

Benefits of board management software

The Visalia Unified School District and other public governance boards invest in board management software like Diligent Community for a variety of reasons. Making sure that board members understand and see the need for the software’s capabilities and functions is a big first step to getting their buy-in to use it regularly in their board work.

Transitioning from a paper agenda to a digital agenda does more than save trees (although it does do that) — it also saves administrative time and money. Diligent Community allows for secure agenda packet delivery to board members, and edits and changes to the agenda can be made quickly and distributed to board members as well as to the community.

The public can view the agenda and follow online during the meeting through livestreaming on the public website. This transparency helps build public trust in the governing board. Diligent Community offers the ability for the board to vote digitally and have those votes stored and accessible. This also adds to the board’s accountability and transparency efforts.

Diligent Community also serves as a central library and document storage area. Board members no longer need to search through paper agendas, emails, texts, websites and shared drives to find out the information they need. Searchable policy manuals, meeting minutes, strategic plans and other data can ease governance frustration. The platform becomes the sole source of trusted information for board members, administrators and the public.

Tips to get all trustees on board

Now that you understand why some board members may be slow to adopt the software, you can work with them to remove barriers to using and thriving on the platform.

Here are some tips for administrators to encourage board members to get the full benefits of board management software:

  • Provide comprehensive training: Invest time and resources into providing thorough training sessions for board members. Offer both initial training sessions to familiarize them with the software's features and ongoing support to address any questions or issues that may arise. By ensuring that board members feel confident using the platform, you can increase their willingness to engage with it. Diligent Community offers initial and ongoing training.
  • Highlight the benefits: As I mentioned earlier, it’s essential to clearly communicate the benefits of using board management software. Emphasize how the software streamlines meeting preparation, facilitates collaboration, improves accountability and transparency, and saves time and resources. Emphasize the security features of the software and how information is protected from cyber criminals. Demonstrating the tangible advantages of the software can motivate board members to actively participate.
  • Tailor training for each member: Recognize that not all board members may have the same technological proficiency or preferences. By offering customized training, you can build their trust and comfort with the platform.
  • Solicit feedback: Encourage board members to share their experiences and feedback. Address issues quickly and effectively. Incorporating board member input when adjusting or changing procedures will generate goodwill and increase buy-in.
  • Foster a culture of use: Success breeds success. As more board members engage with the software, the board will reach a tipping point of usage. The more they see the software making their work, and the work of the administrators easier, the faster they will adopt.
  • Ongoing support and resources: It’s important that board members have access to plenty of resources, support and training including user guides, FAQs, tutorials, and technical support resources when live tech support isn’t readily available. Your board management software partner should be able to provide all of these. Remember to celebrate early successes and point out growth in skills, which will increase the confidence of those who are having difficulties.

The right partner for the job

Digital transformation, when your board has fully integrated technology like management software to streamline operations, manage online risks, and engage the public, is easier said than done. When you look at the benefits of this transformation, the board can see that it’s a worthy goal to work toward to improve governance and leadership for your organization and community.

When figuring out how to get all board members up to speed and comfortable with new technology, you can see it as momentum toward digital transformation. Use this checklist to see how your board can grow in digital maturity.

Diligent Community is designed to meet the needs of public governance boards. It offers initial and ongoing training and technical support for board members to ensure they can govern with the best tools available.

Contact Customer Success to ask about board member training and support for your publicly elected board.


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