For an organization like the Workforce Development Board of Maricopa County in Arizona, every second of the day matters.
“We’re a best-in-class workforce team that connects local job seekers to new opportunities,” says Isabel Creasman, Ph.D., the management analyst for the Maricopa County Workforce Development Board. “As the guidelines of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) have changed in the past few years, the way that our board has done its work has had to change and adapt as well.”
Because the Maricopa County Workforce Development Board is a public board, it operates on a slightly different level than a privately held nonprofit or corporate board, but that doesn’t make the challenges any less pressing. Whether it’s meeting notes or a new ordinance, Isabel’s team must make sure the records are posted publicly. This can sometimes lead to duplicate efforts.
As a management analyst who has been with the board for nearly 11 months, Isabel is part of a small staff of three, working with a larger 19-person board, as well as around 25 other community members in various volunteer and consultative roles. The goal of the board as a whole is to identify hot areas in the labor market and work with local job seekers to fill these gaps.
“In my role, I do a lot of research and policy development for various initiatives,” explains Isabel. “Right now, the board is in the process of selecting the in-demand employers and industries based on WIOA standards that will help us identify the industries that are really bringing in the resources and innovation that we’re looking for. Then, we can help connect local job seekers with these available industries and opportunities.”
Unfortunately, there really isn’t a single hub of information around the evaluation and best practices when it comes to workforce development initiatives. In the past, this has left a lot of the manual work in Isabel’s lap, both in understanding particular economic studies as well as translating these finds to the board.
In the past, the Maricopa County Workforce Development Board was dealing with a ton of manual communication, which meant unnecessary emails. The board staff was dealing with a board, two standing committees, an executive committee, and a youth committee, which meant multiple different audiences that required different content at different times. Unfortunately, when the only means of communication was email, this channel was flooded with messages to and from these different groups.
“If someone had last-minute changes to a document,” Isabel says. “These might not go out until right before a meeting, or even during a meeting. Additionally, if hard copies were being passed out, we would have to literally scan documents to ensure everyone not in attendance had access to the content being presented.”
All of this manual uploading and sharing meant board members and board staff had trouble tracking down documents, determining which versions were most up to date, and figuring out how to best share this information with peer groups. Eventually, the overwhelming amount of manual work and email traffic was too hard to keep up with.
“A few months ago at a board meeting, we started talking about a centralized hub of information that people could go to to get updates or catch up on what they might have missed, instead of having to contact the board staff,” Isabel says. “This happened all the time. When board members couldn’t find something, they would reach out directly to us for guidance, and we would be the ones to find the document in question and send it to them. So, we wanted to make it easier for our board members to manage this entire process themselves.”
In July 2018, the Maricopa County Workforce Development Board elected to test out the Boardable platform, and then in the fall of that year, they adopted the solution full time. Today, there are around 50 Boardable users spread out across the board itself, the board staff, volunteers, and work groups. While the board itself might not use Boardable on a daily basis, the platform has transformed the way the internal staff manages and shares content with key stakeholders.
“Boardable has become our go-to resource for content,” says Isabel. “We can immediately see what content was discussed during a meeting or what documents were referenced. Even during meetings, if a board member has a question about a specific document, we can immediately pull it up on the screen without having to guess or wonder where it originated or if it is the correct version.”
Because there are so many different teams within the Workforce Development Board using Boardable, it helps keep these different groups organized and on top of content needs. Committees can refer to the Document Center to review specific guidelines, and board members have access to outlines before a meeting to ensure they’re prepped and ready to go. Even volunteers and work groups have —and need— access to the Boardable solution.
“All of these different groups are doing a lot of work and research for the organization as a whole,” explains Isabel. “They’re constantly uploading resources and guides that they want to share with different audiences, but they need that single place to go and view the content. This is what makes Boardable so amazing and useful to our team.”
For Isabel and her team, it’s all about efficiency. When it comes to combining so many different user groups and stakeholders into a single platform so that everyone is on the same page, the transparency that Boardable has provided is bar none.
“We’ve become so much more efficient in the way we do our work on the staff side,” says Isabel. “It’s also really increased the efficiency of our board members as well. With a single repository of information, they know exactly where they need to go for content, and the time saved by not having to dig through emails is incredible.”
Boardable is also helping the Maricopa County Workforce Development Board communicate more effectively between teams. Things are much more clear and transparent now that all stakeholders know where documents are and how to find them.
“People can now talk about a document in a meeting without worrying if others know what they’re talking about or where to find it,” Isabel says. “Now, everyone can pull up a document no matter where they are and deliver feedback. It really has made virtual communication and meetings so much easier.”
Isabel and her team recently onboarded their volunteer and work group users in November of 2018, which means some of their time is currently being spent ensuring these groups are comfortable and confident with the Boardable platform.
“We want to empower our users to be able to take full advantage of Boardable,” Isabel says. “So in January, I plan on conducting short training sessions on how to use and find value in the platform. We hope to showcase best practices and really highlight how stakeholders can make the most of Boardable moving forward.”
RELATED: CASE STUDY: Girls Inc. Indy
Want to know how your nonprofit board of directors and staff can be more productive and efficient through the use of technology? With Boardable’s board software, you can centralize board information and communications, where everything (and everyone) is just a couple of clicks away. Click below to get started with Boardable.