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  • Success Story
  • San Anselmo, CA

How San Anselmo, CA Found the Right Fit for Their Board and Agenda Management

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Struggling with a software solution that was too intricate for their needs, San Anselmo clerks resorted to inefficient workarounds that created bottlenecks. govMeetings not only helped provide a better-suited tool but introduced new ways to efficiently process work.

“It was just like magic in the background. Getting everything and putting everything together was just amazing.”
Serge Avila, Clerk, San Anselmo, CA


  • 70% time savings
  • 19 individual boards
  • 6 steering committees
  • 2 months for system implementation
Must have Granicus Solutions

An Intricate System that Created Difficulties

Many local clerk’s offices operate as a tight-knit group of co-workers. They know each other’s tendencies. They develop ways to rely on each other’s strengths to solve problems. And, together, they create internal systems, often as unique as the individuals creating them, to meet the demands of both the public and commission boards when preparing agendas and distributing meeting information.

So, it wasn’t a surprise that when Serge Avila took on the role as a clerk for the town of San Anselmo, California, just over a year ago, he looked to bring some of the skills he had learned working for Marin County neighbor Sausalito. Like clerks’ offices across the country, Avila saw a common problem: staff spread thin trying to handle too many tasks.

San Anselmo had software to help them manage their work, but Avila found that the solution wasn’t meeting the needs that staff faced.

“It was very labor intensive,” he said. “And because we’re so small and a lot of us are wearing a lot of hats, we were finding a lot of ways around problems instead of solving them.”

For Avila, that meant flat PDFs of agenda being uploaded to the system instead of creating agendas through their software solution, due to complicated processes that had to be retrained almost every time a meeting was planned.

“It was so many clicks and not really intuitive,” he said. “And because you’re doing this maybe once a month, or once every two months, where you have to spend the time retraining on how to do it, it was very difficult for staff. It was just an intricate system that probably wasn’t the right fit for our needs.”

When it came to boards and commissions software, San Anselmo’s software didn’t integrate the needs of the 19 different boards for which Avila needed to prepare materials. The staff was relying on spreadsheets to maintain information, which presented problems in both consistency and transparency of information.

“When there’s no interface between your Excel file and the website that can create problems,” he said. “If we had to make a change on the spreadsheet, we had to go to two or three different places to make same change in our system. So, it was just getting really convoluted. There were a lot of hands, but sometimes there were not enough hands to do it. And the person in charge of it, which was me, was new. I was like, ‘I don’t know what you guys are doing! Help!’”


A Familiar Combination Brings Relief

Once he became aware of the problems in efficiency and missed opportunities for integration with boards and meetings information, Avila suggested a change to a solution that had provided success in Sausalito: govMeetings Peak combined with the Boards and Commissions tool.

“I had another coworker who had moved from Sausalito to San Anselmo who was another great promoter of the service,” Avila recalled. “And she’s like ‘We’ve got to bring Peak!’ So, we brought in the software just to see what needed to be done.”

While Avila’s and his coworker’s experience with the product provided first-hand testimonial for a potential change, Avila added that the responsiveness and dedication of the Granicus software team helped strengthen the case for the new system.

“Let’s face it, once you get stuck with the software, you’re stuck with it,” he said. “So, whether you like it or not, you’ve got to work through any issues. The team was very proactive, not only helping us decide, but also in implementation, and in the time since. They’ve gone above and beyond expectations.”

Avila said that even though San Anselmo set an aggressive implementation timeline, the Granicus team was able to meet both the deadline and needs for software capabilities.

“I started in October, we had conversations in November, and started the project in December,” Avila recalled. “We went live at the end of February. I’ve heard that our project was one of the fastest projects that has ever taken. Which is great, you know. Kudos to the programmers and everything that you guys do because without that part, no matter how soon or how fast we wanted it, we wouldn’t have been able to make it happen. You guys did it, and we’re super thankful, super happy.”


A New Workflow Saves Time and Headaches

Implementing both Peak and the Boards and Commissions tool in such a short period of time, which Avila called a “double whammy,” may have been completed quickly, but the results have also made an immediate impact in the workflow for San Anselmo staff.

“I can’t stop hearing good things about Peak, and how it’s making everyone’s life so easy,” Avila said.

Avila added that one significant area where he notices a change is in the amount of time saved preparing meeting materials. What once took eight or nine hours, Avila estimated takes him only two hours to complete with the new system, a potential 70% decrease in time spent.

“And I’m pretty sure I’m thinking of all the bad scenarios when everything could potentially go wrong,” he added.

Avila also added that he saves time in dealing with staff issues and training on steps to complete processes that are now automated in the govMeetings system.

“I was spending time training them, helping them, assisting them,” he said. “Now it’s ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Just drag and drop, and then I can change the name. No problem. It’s super, super easy.”

While the Boards and Commissions module is a new addition to the team’s workflow, Avila admitted that they are still finding ways to take full advantage of the capabilities. But he said that the move to a system that can more easily integrate materials to public-facing websites allows for greater transparency and accurate information.

“We’re able to invite folks to be aware of the meetings and now have the proper tools to provide a precise, concise, and understandable agenda that they can read,” he said. “They can print out an entire packet of the agenda or the agenda itself. We are giving them extra tools that they can work with.”

That increase in transparency, along with shifting the internal expectations around process, helps make it easier to better serve the public.

“It was challenging at the beginning,” Avila said. “But once people saw what the program could actually do for them, they were so excited about it. I have folks that keep thanking me for bringing Peak and how their life is so much easier now. That’s how I know that we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do for the public and to help staff be successful.”