Cook Shire Council decreases time spent compiling council meeting agendas from up to an hour to seconds with
Cloud-based Meeting Management
Cook Shire Council
Described as ‘The heart of Cape York Peninsula’, the vibrant Cook Shire is the largest land area shire in Queensland and is rich in Indigenous culture, history, agriculture, tourism and arts. The region’s remoteness allows council employees to work from home when required - providing them with flexibility and the ability to prepare for council meetings from a distance.
However, as Executive Assistant Kimberley Sullivan explains, technology must be accessible to staff and contractors to make this feasible. We discuss how Resolve Meeting Management has streamlined the council meeting process within Cook Shire Council and increased efficiencies and sustainability.
Council Meeting technology should be accessible to all and easy to navigate.
When it comes to running efficient council meetings, the team at Cook Shire were looking for a solution that would benefit all teams and allow them to upload, edit and action documents at speed and from any location.
While their previous meeting management solution provided some of these features, it had become outdated and inaccessible for some remote teams.
“We were working out of a Microsoft Word-based program that wasn’t really accessible outside of our council network,” said Kimberley. “Remote connectivity was sometimes difficult, so staff had to be in the office to prepare for the meeting. This became quite an issue as many teams work remotely, and we also work with contractors.”
“Remote connectivity was sometimes difficult,
so staff had to be in the office to prepare for the meeting.
This became quite an issue as many teams work remotely,
and we also work with contractors."
Additionally, Kimberley explains how managing each council meeting was becoming time-consuming and challenging.
“We completely relied on the Microsoft Word template for our reports, and the collation time for combining agendas into a single pdf file was a minimum of 45 minutes. Issues also occurred if documents weren’t in the correct format or files weren’t saved to the correct locations. It became clear that we needed to find an alternative.”
Cloud-based technology that delivers and is visually appealing.
Kimberley and two other Executive Assistants from Cook Shire were attending an industry event when they were first introduced to Resolve Meeting Management. They were instantly drawn to the fact that it was cloud-based and had a clean and modern look and feel.
“Once we saw Resolve in action, we knew it would make a difference to how our teams would work. Our employees could access it from anywhere, making the council report writing and approval process so much easier,” Kimberley said.
Fast forward to today, and Cook Shire’s instincts were correct. Teams are experiencing the many benefits of Resolve, which extend far beyond once thought.
“We have been running council meetings in Resolve for almost five months now, and the feedback has been fantastic - especially from report writers,” Kimberley said. “The layout is more modern, which makes it easier to navigate, and it’s very clear where to attach documents and send workflows. Also, because everything is cloud-based, creating an agenda now takes seconds; a definite improvement on what previously took us up to an hour or more.”
“Because everything is cloud-based, creating
an agenda now takes seconds; a definite
improvement on what previously took us up to
an hour or more."
Resolve Meeting Management has also improved transparency between council and the community by elevating public access to meeting agendas and minutes in a webpage format that links to individual reports and attachments.
Communicating the benefits and managing the transition.
With the Council Meeting being an integral process within Cook Shire, it was essential to communicate the change effectively and ensure teams were aware of the why, what and how.
Kimberley explains how initial communication was vital to gaining buy-in from various stakeholders.
“It was important to convey the reasons for the change and the benefits,” she said. “We also wanted communication to be two-way, so once we had the full support of our ICT team, we encouraged staff to provide feedback on our current report templates, let us know if they had any concerns or questions, and keep an open mind to the exciting changes ahead.”
Before any changes occurred, a succinct email was sent to teams advising them of the key benefits, timelines and training requirements. This was followed by training delivered by Redman Solutions to the Executive Leadership Team, regular report writers, and Councillors.
The move from paper-based agendas results in positive councillor feedback.
Along with learning a new platform, moving away from paper-based documents can also be a significant change for internal teams and councillors. Kimberley admits that while Councillors may have been apprehensive at first, they are now impressed with the platform’s functionality and ease of use.
“We have been using Resolve for a few months, and it’s incredibly user-friendly. Once our Councillors had training on the platform, they were immediately impressed. As a result, for the first time ever in March this year, our council meeting required no hard copies to be printed or bound. This historic milestone shows just how successful the implementation has been.”
“For the first time ever in March this year,
our council meeting required no hard copies
to be printed or bound. This historic milestone
shows just how successful the implementation has been.”
Additionally, Cook Shire Council’s CEO, Brian Joiner, explains how the move to Resolve has also impacted the broader organisation.
“Across Council, we are actively trying to find ways to reduce the amount of paper we use. We no longer require invoices to be printed for payment, and in the coming months, we are looking to reduce the need for printed leave forms, pay slips and rates notices,” he said. “Moving over to Resolve has allowed us to expand further our desire to be paper lite. Councillors are enjoying the ease of use on their Resolve Portals to view, make notes and follow along in Council meetings electronically. Not only do we see this as a great environmental initiative, but it also reduces costs and staff time quite significantly.”