Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Ways to Optimize Your Agenda/Packet Format for Readability

Putting some thought into the format you use for your city or town’s agenda/packet can make a huge difference in the flow or the entire meeting.  Agenda formats that are clear and concise let all of the meeting participants and viewers know exactly what is going to happen and when.  Let’s face it, agenda packets can be REALLY big, so another advantage to a clear, concise agenda format can make navigating a large packet much easier.  Particularly if you are a city that still utilitizes paper agendas/packets for your council members.  In this article, I will provide you with some tips to creating an agenda that will change the entire flow of your council meeting…. and when I say “change”, I mean for the better!

1.  Unique Section Numbers and Item Numbers – This is one of the foremost mistakes of most organizations.  We are so accustomed to and comfortable with the standard agenda/outline format where we have a section (ie. 1) with item numbers or letters starting at “a” or “1” within each one (see below).

With so many like numbered items, it can be confusing to your constituents and council members to find where an item is in the packet.  By making each item number unique, there is no confusing where an item will be in the packet, as you can follow the format through the entire document (see below).

2.  Item Format – Another issue I see on many agendas is that the actual agenda item format is too lengthy.  One way to avoid this is to use a standard template within each item so that your council members and constituents can quickly and easily read through the summary information of each agenda item.

3.  Include a Start Time on Each Section – This is a great way to keep your meetings on schedule.  Adding a suggested start time on each agenda section will guide your council members and keep certain agenda items for hogging up too much of your meeting time.  It gives you a guide to move your council members/constituents on to the next section, as well as information so that they know how much of their time they need to allocate to attending the meeting.

4.  Do Not Overuse the Indent – Believe it or not, although the “indent” feature does organize an agenda, if overused, it does not make a document more readable.  Several indents in a section can not only be confusing to the eye, but also greatly increase the number pages used in your agenda unnecessarily.  I recommend using only 1 indent for each section of no more than ½ inch.  Using line spacing is a much more effective way to organize an agenda and increase readability.

5.  Utilize Page Numbers Throughout Your Packet – Using page numbers that begin on the 1st page or your agenda and continue through the last page of your packet is a good way to make jumping from packet item to packet item quickly and easily.  If you are using a paper agenda/packet, this is even more important, as you do not have the ability to use bookmarks and links to navigate, as you do with electronic versions of an agenda.  Utilizing page numbers is important, however, whether you use electronic or paper agendas/packets, as you need to provide for your constituents to use either option.  There will always be people who are more comfortable using paper than a computer.
Here is an example of a well thought out and very readable agenda:

As you can see, each item number is unique, altogether removing the need use section numbering.  At the beginning of each section, you can see a time slot to keep the meeting on schedule.  Also, it is obvious where each item and each section begin based on spacing, not numbering or lettering.  Notice that the section “Consent Agenda” is utilizing a letter before each item.  This is another great way to distinguish item from item.  Notice also, that we are only using 1 indentation.  This saves valuable paper/screen space and also enhances the flow of the document.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Town of Paradise Goes Live With AgendaPal Video Linking

Today, the Town of Paradise, CA went "Live" with their council meeting video in their AgendaPal system.
The Town started streaming their meeting video over the internet due to a gracious donation by the Rotary Club of Paradise which allowed the town to purchase the video equipment.
Once the Town had their meetings recorded, they were able to provide an archive of their video, indexed to each agenda item, to the public via their website using AgendaPal's video indexing module.
You can see an example of the Town's meeting video indexing by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The City of Midwest City, OK Selects AgendaPal to Replace its Home-Grown Agenda Management System

The City of Midwest City has selected Austin, TX based AgendaPal to fill its agenda management needs.
The City had previously built a home-grown process for agenda item submission, approval routing, agenda creation, and posting for public consumption.  Their previous system was based upon centralized file sharing applications.  With AgendaPal, the City will automate the process and eliminate a large portion of administration that was required by their previous tool.

We are all excited to welcome the City of Midwest City to the AgendaPal family.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cedar Park, TX Replaces Their Legacy Agenda Management System with AgendaPal

The City of Cedar Park has selected AgendaPal to replace their existing agenda management system and streamline their agenda process.  From item submission to the automated creation of agendas and packets, the City will save money over its previous provider while enhancing its users' experience.

Friday, November 9, 2012

City of Bremerton, WA Automates its Agenda Process

The City of Bremerton, WA selects AgendaPal to streamline its agenda process.
The City will use the system for submitting agenda items and associated attachments electronically, automatically route the items for approval, and automate the creation of its council meeting agendas and packets.
All of us at AgendaPal would like to welcome the City to the AgendaPal family!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Livingston, MT Selects AgendaPal to Automate its Agenda Process

As a small city with a population of only 7000, Livingston, MT had trouble finding a feasible solution to its agenda automation needs.  Many of the systems it looked at carried price tags in excess of $10K per year...a price that was out of the question for the City's budget.
Based upon it's affordable price point, the City decided to take the AgendaPal system for a test drive. After the 30-day trial, the City selected AgendaPal to automate its agenda process for the long-term.

Friday, August 31, 2012

City of Big Bear Lake, CA chooses AgendaPal

Amidst the San Bernardino mountains, the City of Big Bear Lake, CA is streamlining their agenda and agenda packet creation process with AgendaPal.
The City's agendas are available by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

City of Dayton, TX Steps Into The Future With Agenda Automation

The City of Dayton, TX has selected AgendaPal to automate their agenda process.  All of us here at AgendaPal are excited to welcome Dayton to the family.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lancaster, TX Automates Their Public Meeting Process with AgendaPal

The City of Lancaster, TX has selected AgendaPal to automate its public meeting agenda process.  With the new system, the City will streamline agenda item submission, approval routing, agenda creation, and agenda packet generation processes.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hopkinsville, KY Commits to AgendaPal for its Agenda Automation

The City of Hopkinsville, KY has selected AgendaPal to automate the agenda process for its City Council and Committee of the Whole meetings.
The City will automate its item submission and approval process by allowing users to submit agenda items and file attachments via the cloud-based system.  Furthermore, the City will automate the creation and posting of meeting agendas and packets.
The City's agendas, packets, and minutes are available online at the City's website.

Friday, March 30, 2012

City of Apopka, FL Selects AgendaPal

All of us at AgendaPal are happy to welcome the City of Apopka, FL to the AgendaPal family.  The City selected AgendaPal to manage their end-to-end agenda process in the cloud.
Council agendas for the City are available at the following link:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The City of Junction City, KS Partners with AgendaPal

The City of Junction City, KS has chosen the AgendaPal system to streamline its public meeting agenda process.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Town of Paradise Selects AgendaPal to Streamline Its Agenda Process

The Town of Paradise had desired to use technology to streamline its agenda process for some time.  When the time came to assess solutions, it quickly found that the cost of such solutions was highly prohibitive.
After assessing the functionality of multiple vendors, the Town selected AgendaPal for it's end-to-end functionality, paired with a reasonable price.

Monday, July 25, 2011

SaaS vs. Purchased/On-Premise Agenda Management Solutions - Part 3 - Single Code Base

Single code base, single environment.  For those of us in the technology world, that phrase spells ease of support and maintenance with any software system.

Back in my days running on-premise software firms, a few things always kept me up at night.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

SaaS vs. Purchased/On-Premise Agenda Management Solutions - Part 2 - “Pretend SaaS"

I have been meaning to write this blog entry for a while now.  But today, for the third time in the past 10 days, I had an experience with a potential customer that made me drop what I was doing and write this entry.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SaaS vs. Purchased/On-Premise Agenda Management Solutions – Part 1

Without question, Software as a Service (SaaS) is becoming more commonplace.  The advent of, Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, and other high-end players’ SaaS offerings over the years have drawn attention to an amazing vision.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

AgendaPal Values

AgendaPal Corporation started with two visions, a great product and a fun place to work.
As we pushed our business planning process into high gear, we obviously had to figure out all of the details of the organization from end to end.  Luckily, we had a phenomenally talented team!