How the Alpena County Board of Commissioners Increased Meeting Productivity and Engagement Using BoardBook 

In 2019, when the staff of the Alpena County Board of Commissioners in Alpena, Michigan, began searching for a new meeting management system, they were looking for opportunities to both reduce paper and increase meeting efficiency. 

“With just three people on staff, we’re a small team with a busy office,” said County Administrator Mary Catherine Hannah. “Freeing up time spent on meeting management allowed us to handle other tasks and take on other project administration in a way that we hadn’t been able to previously.” 

After a review of BoardBook’s time-saving features and easy-to-use web-based platform, the Alpena County team decided the program was a good fit. In the years since, they have seen a marked improvement in efficiency as well as engagement with both the public and Alpena County staff. “With online meetings, BoardBook helps the public and our Commissioners to be able to follow along, ” said Hannah. 

“It is a lot quicker to put together your meeting packets and the agenda and attachment,” said Board Assistant Lynn Bunting. “It’s time savings, quite a big difference.”  

Enhanced collaboration 

With paper-based board meetings, keeping track of last-minute agenda updates could be a cumbersome process. For Alpena County, this often meant printing multiple versions and delivering revisions by hand.  

BoardBook’s streamlined meeting platform has been a game-changer for the team, noted Hannah. The cloud-based system provides an easy tool for collaborating on edits, alleviating the stress of last-minute changes.  

“BoardBook provides one central place for all our in-house staff to go to find the packets and see what’s been loaded,” said Hannah. “If more than one person needs to edit something, it’s easy to do.” 

Bunting agreed, noting that BoardBook’s web-based system helps keep the team coordinated. “Instead of having a piece of paper or a memo sent via email or in person, we can automatically attach agenda items in BoardBook, so if we lose the paper copy, it’s still in there,” she said.  

For the Alpena County team, BoardBook’s all-in-one platform also serves as a searchable database for important materials, which helps the team save time and stay organized. 

“I can load reference documents in BoardBook so there’s a place for everyone to go to find those. The fact that it’s web-based makes them easy to get to,” said Hannah. “I also like that all the old documents are there, so you can go back in and pull up a history.” 

Increased engagement 

For the Alpena County Board, transparency and accountability are key. Paper-based meeting management can make providing public information a challenge, but Bunting noted that BoardBook’s cloud-based system simplifies the process. 

“Once our minutes are approved, we can add them to the website right through BoardBook,” said Bunting. “The link to the minutes gets posted on our website, and the public can view them at their leisure.” 

But sharing public documents is only the first step toward accountability, according to Hannah. BoardBook’s easy-to-use system also helps the team get specific documents to the right audience at the right time.  

“We continue to struggle with Open Meetings Act considerations, and having a tool like BoardBook is really helpful,” said Hannah. “We can time the release of the packets to give Commissioners an opportunity to review prior to releasing to the media and public, which helps with transparency and community engagement.” 

The team’s focus on engagement doesn’t stop with the public. Hannah noted that BoardBook’s streamlined platform helps Alpena County’s internal audiences stay focused and informed as well. 

“BoardBook helps us ensure that all our department heads can see the materials. They have a place where they can go back and look and say, ‘Oh that was covered two meetings ago,’” said Hannah. “It’s all there for them to find.” 

Making the switch 

To help ease the transition, the Alpena County team took advantage of BoardBook’s unlimited training and support opportunities. “I used BoardBook heavily before I did any of the trainings, and I was able to navigate it well,” noted Hannah. “It’s a straightforward and intuitive platform.” 

Switching meeting platforms can be a headache, but for the Alpena County staff, the process was painless, thanks to BoardBook’s dedicated customer service team. “The BoardBook customer support team was a big help,” said Bunting.