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How cross engagement benefits your municipality

by Municipal Information Systems Association (MISA) of Ontario
in ONLINE FEATURE, Technology
How do we make IT the priority versus an afterthought?

Municipalities constantly strive to bring technology and services that will benefit the people in their community. They also expect their IT staff to be on top of the latest technologies at all times. Yet, it always feels that IT is engaged when the conversation is over and the decisions are made. It’s important for senior executives at the business level to engage their IT areas in the early planning stages of their initiatives. This gives them the chance to set expectations, both from a budget and resource perspective to avoid issues down the road.

On the flip side, how do we as municipal IT staff stay current on what other municipalities are using, how it’s working for them, and whether it makes sense to bring that to our own organization? This is always an issue – whether your municipality has a large IT team or one staff resource.

This is why it is so vital to look beyond silos and look for opportunities to engage with other municipalities. Personal and professional development has never been more critical than now. The more knowledge you have, the more value and cost savings you are able to provide to your organization. Some examples include actively participating in industry events, online communities, and webinars. IT areas have limited budgets, which is why belonging to an industry association is a fantastic way to effectively bundle all these things together.

Belonging to an industry association allows you to take advantage of discounted rates for industry events, learn best practices, and open opportunities to participate in discussions with like-minded people who share the same issues as you do. Associations can also leverage collaboration to bring value to their members.

This year, MISA Ontario and the association of Local Government Information Management (ALGIM), located in New Zealand, released a new online technology services directory that will allow municipalities to keep track of which technologies other municipalities are using to support various business functions. This directory is called InfoBase.

The benefits of this directory are tremendous. Municipalities are able to view, rate, and update the various services, hardware, and software applications they use. This tool also allows large and rural municipalities to connect directly with each other, helping them learn how these applications can be applied to their initiatives. They will also be able to update their services and technologies including enhancements and upgrades. This tool is now available to all active MISA members.

Another collaboration tool available to our members is SocialLink. Think “LinkedIn” for municipalities. It’s a private online community launched by MISA/ASIM Canada to share insights and best practices focused on information and communication technology.

I highly encourage you to look beyond your silo. When municipalities engage each other under a common goal, the benefits are endless. MW

as published in Municipal World, November 2017

JACQUELINE O’HARA is the Community Manager for MISA Ontario. MISA Ontario is a strong member association comprising municipalities, vendors, partners, and other orders of government who are interested in furthering and improving the use of technology in municipal government.

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