North Huron is a small, rural Ontario municipality comprised of 3 towns, rich in history, agriculture and tourism. Located near the shores of Lake Huron, the region is home to some 5,000 citizens. Its small size notwithstanding, the Municipality of North Huron possesses the same progressive traits as the most successful Fortune 500 companies. Moving to automated meetings and internal processes has brought both efficiencies and cost savings to City Hall, and that’s something every citizen can get excited about.
For Council, a growing town, longer agendas, reams of paper required for meetings and overburdened administration staff were a recipe for defeat. In addition, a looming merger of services with neighbouring municipality Morris-Turnberry was about to add real complexity to the delivery of public works, building services, drainage services and administration services.
Drowning in Paper and Processes
Clerk and Manager of Information Technology, Richard Al realized it was time to stop thinking of the possibilities and start doing what was necessary. Along with North Huron’s Director of Corporate Services & Deputy Clerk, Kathy Adams, he approached eSCRIBE for a solution that would reduce or eliminate the paper-based, manual processes that were hampering their ability to get things done quickly and efficiently.
eSCRIBE answered the call with a proposed solution. Although Al suspected that going to paperless meetings and the inevitable change in some business processes would be initially challenging for Council, he knew that not changing would be fatal for the Municipality.
A Lightning Fast Implementation
The last item on Council’s agenda before the Christmas break was to approve the expenditure of implementing eSCRIBE technology. With stunning efficiency and teamwork, by mid-January North Huron was up and running with a new system of meeting management that gave everyone an optimistic view of 2016. During the first week, Business Process Review had all parties understanding the day-to-day operations of North Huron Council and committee needs. Meeting Configuration provided North Huron the integration solution for today, along with their vision for an automated future. Verification and Testing provided the run-through with IT, and then they launched right into Administrator Training. The second week saw the Mock Meeting and then a review of the Administrator’s Training before the first live meeting on January 20, 2016. “We embraced the change because we saw the writing on the wall of what would happen if we didn’t automate our meetings, and grew excited with what eSCRIBE’s technology could do for us,” Al noted.
The eSCRIBE software solution was customized to meet the unique needs of Council and staff members. Says eSCRIBE Vice President Paul Macklin, “Richard’s team accepted the small changes that would inevitably happen with automated meetings. And yet, software is flexible, so we adapted to their way as much as we could.”
Since implementation of the eSCRIBE solution, the Municipality of North Huron has realized:
- Less time spent copying and collating meeting agendas and minutes
- Efficient processes for quick, clear communications
- More time for staff to spend on higher value activities
- Greater flexibility for making last-minute changes to agendas and documentation
- Cost savings and a smaller carbon footprint due to a dramatic decrease in paper usage
The Right Attitude Leads to Success
What may have been the most impressive during this implementation was the attitude adopted by Council. They voted overwhelmingly for positive change, and moved forward enthusiastically, knowing they were doing the right thing for their constituency. A two-week implementation of software and training was unprecedented. But because the right players possessed the right attitude, what would often take six weeks was fully functional in only fourteen days.
“We discovered that endless conversation about change was a barrier,” Al concludes. “Actually committing to doing something and then acting is what was required. Once we embraced the solution, the problem disappeared.”