Agenda management for local governments involves the process of effectively structuring, organizing and distributing the meeting agenda so that all council members and the public are informed and up-to-date on key areas of the municipal meeting. Today’s local governments must manage their meeting agendas wisely in order to have productive, transparent meetings. A board meeting agenda for a municipal meeting is intended to do much more than simply list the topics to be covered, though. It identifies the action to be taken on each point, highlighting where it is in its life cycle. It also directs readers to relevant documents and past actions, as well as announces time limits so that meetings stay on track and don’t run over time.
Strong agenda management, therefore, is vital to the decision-making process for local governments and ultimately dictates how core issues and challenges will be addressed. As the agenda serves as a public notice of a meeting, it is crucial that council members understand how to structure the agenda to drive the most efficiency and success. To approach agenda management properly, city clerks must consider whether a simple or complex agenda structure is more effective in addressing necessary items and facilitating decision-making, and should customize the agenda according to the council’s unique needs. Online meeting agendas bring substantive benefits to the agenda management process by automating the process for city clerks and allowing for increased citizen engagement, transparency and environmental stewardship, in addition to saving time and valuable resources.
Agenda management also plays a major role in reducing clerks’ workloads. Clerks are some of the busiest people in the local government realm, overseeing various administrative processes that are critical to the daily operations of a municipality. Without the work of city clerks, local government meetings would have no structure and ultimately accomplish little. When clerks apply strong agenda management practices, they are able to cut back on their own workloads by eliminating inefficiencies that regularly slow things down. As the agenda is essentially a written plan for a meeting, it is wise for clerks to leverage agenda management as a way to hone the focus of a meeting and ensure that council members stay on track.
A lighter workload for clerks means more time devoted to serving effectively as the liaison between the public and the council. Proper agenda management allows city clerks to structure meeting agendas to drive efficiency, which in turn supports the overall success of the municipality.
As local government professionals look to improve the quality of their services and better meet the needs of the community, technology is a key ingredient that has become a necessity for agenda management and all other aspects of local government operations. Paper-based processes for agenda management not only waste time and resources, but also make it harder for local governments to comply with open meetings requirements and provide needed information to the public online and in a timely manner. Without an automated system to streamline the agenda management process, from the creation and publishing of agenda packets to the tracking of upcoming items, local governments will struggle to fulfill the public’s expectations and will likely spend more money on hiring additional staff – spend that could be allocated much more effectively for both the short and long term.
Agenda management software has become a must-have for today’s local governments. With the right technology, clerks can customize the agenda format to create either a brief or detailed agenda within minutes, organize agenda items to ensure a strong meeting flow, and allow meeting participants to view the agenda online prior to the meeting to prepare ahead of time. Agenda management can be a tedious and cumbersome process when done manually, not to mention a waste of paper and resources as well as a risk to the safety of local government information and records. Employing technology for agenda management is the best way to conduct successful meetings that incite better decision-making.