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2014 Municipal Clerks Survey Now Released

It's an exciting day as iCompass releases its 2nd Annual North American Municipal Clerks Survey.  It's been to designed to identify key challenges, trends and priorities for Clerks across North America.  With respondents expected from every province and state, we are confident it will provide a regional, national and international look into the Clerk's community on a scale never before seen in North America. 

In partnership with the IIMC and the Municipal Clerks Education Fund we are donating $1 for every response to help support the training and continuing education of Clerks across North America.  The money will fund a new MCEF endowment fund that supports the training and education of Clerk's at smaller sized local governments. 

The digital survey is being sent to nearly about 20,000 people who conduct the clerk's role at their local government.  It can also be completed by following the link below.  All respondents will receive a detailed report in the weeks following which breaks down the results.   Do you part to help support the clerks community! 

Read Joint Press Release with the IIMC/MCEF

5 Tips to Balance Work, Play and Career Development at Your Next Conference

*Paula Swisher is a Municipal Clerk in Brier, Washington and is a board member for the Washington Municipal Clerks Association

Clerk Conferences are one of the highlights of the year.  Whether it’s a regional conference or the IIMC, there are so many opportunities to learn and catch-up with old friends.   But the challenge during these events is staying focused. With so much to do it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re attending in the first place.  

After I returned from the WCMA conference last week in Pasco, WA where I enjoyed visiting with a lot of clerk friends and made some new ones, here are 5 tips to help you get more out of your next conference.

1.  Get to know the sessions inside and out

You don’t have to memorize the agenda, but you should be close!  Know what sessions you’re going to attend and which ones could be skipped in lieu of other opportunities.   If you’re attending IIMC and working on certification, the question you need to ask well in advance is:  How can I maximize the number of Certified Municipal Clerk or Master Municipal Clerk points at his Conference?  If you aren’t sure, reach out to the organizer, education coordinator or president of your regional association ahead of time to understand which sessions will count towards certification.  Here’s a great article from the IIMC that breaks down how to earn points.  There are a number of regulations to keep in mind so it’s a great resource to have bookmarked.

3 ‘Outside the Box’ Ideas to Become More Efficient at Handling Public Requests

It happens all the time – a member of your community phones City Hall looking for something, or wanting to voice a concern in front of Council, but they aren’t sure who to talk to, or where to start. 

Pointing people in the right direction is an integral part of being a Clerk, but it sure would save a lot of time if the public had a better idea of how the local government decision-making process works!

Here are 3 ideas that can help make the job of your Clerk easier:

1. Infographics

The City of Indianapolis, its Chamber of Commerce and the organization People of Urban Progress have created a great infographic called The People’s Guide to City Government.   It’s a great resource to help the community better understand how local government decisions are made, and where they should go to participate.

Costing anywhere from $500 - $1500 and being created by almost any marketing agency, infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than text articles. (See this infographic on infographics!)

2. Social Media

Whitby Implements CivicWeb Portal in Only 4 Days

whitby council“The new paperless meeting management solution has been a great success.  The launch of CivicWeb Portal ensures that important decisions made by Whitby Council are easily accessible for the public.”

-Town of Whitby Mayor, Pat Perkins

More Announcements Regarding our 2013 Main User Conference

As we near the big weekend for our Main User Conference in Kamloops, BC we've been busy putting together the final details.  With customers from Newfoundland to Washington State planning to attend it will undoubtedly be an extremely valuable experience from everyone taking part.  I'm excited today to release a few more details as the September 20th deadline for registration is quickly approaching! 

Keep Calm and Clerk On Amazing Race

No, you won't have to eat insects and unfortunately we don't have tickets for attendees to fly around the world either!  But we have organized a fun Amazing Race themed event for users that will take place throughout the conference.  You never know when your team might need to spring into action!  We also have some 'calming' prizes for the winning team.

Preview the Next Generation of iCompass Solutions

Our team of developers will be showing users some of the soon to be released upgrades to our solutions.  It's the ideal opportunity for attendees to provide feedback on the services they will using in the near future!

Keynote Speech - iCompass CEO Paulin Laberge

Our new CEO Paulin Laberge will share stories on how the qualities that make a good leader motivate others to do the same.

Apathy, or An Inability to Engage?

Is anybody actually reading these?

And if they are, you can’t expect the average person to actually be motivated to participate in a local government’s public engagement process.  In a TED Talk by Dave Meslin (video at the end of the blog) he effectively illustrates how ridiculous a Nike ad in this format would look. 

Now, It’s been a longstanding requirement in both Canada and the United States that public notices from the government be published, several times in some cases, in local newspapers.   But these laws were introduced during a time when newspapers were the major source of information and the previous way of informing citizens involved nailing a public notice to the front door of City Hall.

Local governments aren’t oblivious to this issue; many are starting to post more of this information online via their website or through social media.  But the average municipality is still spending $25,000 to $100,000 for larger organizations to publish incredibly ineffective ads that are often buried in the back of a newspaper’s classified section.  Data from the State of Maine shows they are spending about $500,000 annually to publish these notices in papers! 

Reaching Out: A Company Wide Initiative To Get Local Government Feedback

The foundation of iCompass' success, providing industry leading solutions for the public sector over the last 15 years, has been the result of close collaboration with our customers.  The feedback we have received has proven invaluable in developing and improving our services to better meet the needs of local governments across North America.

With this in mind, I'm excited to announce that iCompass is launching a company-wide initiative to speak to as many local governments as possible before the end of September.  We want to learn how Clerks and other staff members have been impacted by the changing landscape of local governments.  A large number of these conversations will be with current iCompass customers but we are also reaching out to others;  we are keenly interested in understanding how we can better support current and future customers going forward.

The feedback will help guide future product developments as we continue the iCompass tradition of building solutions based on the changing needs of local governments.  Upon completion of this exercise we will be sharing this valuable information with customers and other local government officials who have participated.  We look forward to the conversations!

Warwick Township – Our Latest Citizen Engagement Success Story

The latest trends in technology are making it easier for local governments to engage with citizens on a day-to-day basis.  Our latest solution – CivicWeb Portal is completely transforming the concept of open government and how municipalities become more transparent on tight time and financial budgets.   Warwick Township, Ontario is the latest example.

With CivicWeb Portal instead of posting something online, the framework is developed so that once you are done a report, agenda or minutes, it shows up formatted and in the proper spot on the web portal for viewing by the public. Preselect what you want to show, and that’s really the last you’ll have to worry about it. 

Warwick Township is the latest organization to launch the open government web portal.  Looking for a way to more easily share important, searchable information from Council was a top priority.  And when we told them CivicWeb Portal fit seamlessly into their current meeting workflow the work began quickly to get it online. 

“It’s extremely important that we provide up-to-date information from Council for our community online,” says Warwick Township Mayor Todd Case.  “This powerful resource will enhance Council communications making Warwick Township more open, transparent and accessible for the public.”

Big Wins

Great Customer Service Exemplified

When we say iCompass has true 24/7/365 industry leading Grand Slam Customer Service well, we mean it.  Recently, our staff took the afternoon off to celebrate recent successes spending the day up at remote Lac Le Jeune.  Now a trip like this comes with a unique set of challenges for our Customer Success Team, namely, how to deliver top notch service when out in the wilderness away from the office, phones and Internet access.  The solution - to set up a mobile office should any issues arrive. 

With an iPad, iPhone, laptop and a great view of the lake from the beach, our team ensured that every single user who had a question received an answer immediately.  With remote access to our servers, and a tethered Internet connection everything ran smoothly. It just goes to show you how far technology has come and what a committed, knowledgeable team can accomplish when asked, how can you enjoy the beach while giving World Class Customer Service at the same time! 

The next question - why aren't we spending more days at the beach?

Browser Updates Don't Have to Mean Headaches

When using a cloud based service its key that you familiarize yourself with your browser and its different settings.  Your internet browser is one of the most valuable and critical tools you'll use, so when you get an update notification be sure to read the fine print!  A great example comes from that latest update of Internet Explorer from IE 9 to IE 10.   Now Internet Explorer is asking users for permission every time you copy and paste data.  It's frustrating for everyday internet users, but when building an agenda or writing a report as a local government/school district administrator on the cloud you'll go crazy dealing with this security feature.   The good news - you can turn this functionality off permanently following the steps below: