When we started looking for board management software a few years ago, our early efforts focused on talking to the vendors that were exhibiting their solutions at NSBA and ISBA conferences. When I assumed the role of school board clerk last year, we figured there was no time like the present to transition over to a tech-based management approach.
We launched a search for a solution. We did some research, attended a few webinars, and got our trustees involved. Here’s the key criteria that helped us reach our decision.
- User friendly. I didn’t want to be the only one who could use the system. In fact, I told our superintendent that if the solution was just for me, it probably wasn’t a good choice for our board. We’ve been able to slowly add new users to our board software and are now working towards getting our principals (and possibly even student council) to start using it.
- Multipurpose. Early in the product selection process, I worked with our superintendent to figure out the board software’s usefulness for our strategic plan. When our administrative and executive teams considered the possibilities, we saw that the software’s policy/strategic plan modules would be able to manage the agendas for our board meetings, cabinet meetings, governance committee meetings and for overall strategic planning.
- Searchable info. We used to store most of our board information on PDFs that weren’t searchable. We wanted a solution that supported keyword searches across all policies. This has come in particularly handy during the pandemic, where we need to be able to work remotely and search for data even if we’re not sitting in an office or at a desktop.
- Organization. We used to print out packets or send out links to those packets through Google Drive. Not only was the process clunky and cumbersome, but it was difficult to attach everything and make sure that recipients had all that they needed. Once users were trained on the new system, we started loading all documentation into it, including links to our meetings and live stream link broadcasts. It’s been a one-stop shop for us and it saves a lot of time and hassle.
- Transparency. We want to be as transparent as possible with everything. With all that’s been going on with the pandemic, we don’t always have a clear view of the current situation in our district. The good news is that we can use our solution to ensure good transparency and keep everyone informed. We can put the agendas up and have confidence that people can access them. And while I still field questions about the agendas, I’m not getting any, “I can’t see this” or “I can’t find this” comments anymore. It’s all very clear cut and available.
Sharon Mast is Clerk of the Board at Boise School District in Idaho. She helped make the choice to use Simbli as the district’s board management software platform.
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