City administrative assistants actually run smaller cities and towns. While mayors, clerk-treasurers, and council members may make all the important public decisions, the administrative assistants are quite likely the most important cog in day-to-day operations!
They answer citizens’ phone calls. They guard the door and time of the mayors and clerk-treasurers. They maintain and prepare meeting information and documentation.
They’re often the ones who coordinate workers fixing potholes and repairing water main breaks. They keep track of shelter house rentals and many other things requiring good bookkeeping. They communicate with the stakeholders of nearly all the activities in the city.
Unfortunately, they also are the ones who suffer from small cities’ reliance on outdated 1990s computer technology.
Since computers became the norm for office information, email and spreadsheets have been the workhorses for collaboration and information management.
While cell phones and texting have become widely used in small city operations as well, those late arrivals have only complicated the life of administrative assistants. Now, not only do administrative assistants have to manage information in email and spreadsheets, they also have to communicate by text message.
And to make matters worse, their bosses (aforementioned mayors, clerk-treasurers, and council members) usually don’t have business backgrounds or experience in managing operations, let alone with modern technology.
Many of those city leaders are, or were, small family business owners or lower-level corporate employees with little experience coordinating larger workforces. Since cities of 5,000-15,000 residents can have 100 employees or more, many small cities struggle from a lack of technological leadership and business efficiency.
The managed service providers of smaller cities do well just to keep the cities’ computers, servers, and telephones operating. They don’t have time to learn business best practices in using the Microsoft 365 technology they’ve already installed on cities’ computers.
Note that most cities are already paying for Teams and Microsoft 365 but are not using 90% of it!
The end result of such technological unawareness is an epidemic of small cities using cobbled-together thirty-year old technology – or even sticky notes – to run their operations. They cannot afford high-priced management software packages like larger cities can, so small city administrative assistants have no choice but to simply work their tails off!
That is, until 2017. That’s when Microsoft rolled out Teams as the hub for their new generation of mobile-friendly apps. Small cities have had great tools at their disposal for five years, but most don’t know it.
I’ll be writing about the potential for small city usage of Teams and Microsoft 365 over the next several months.
The bottom line of all my upcoming articles, however, is that administrative assistants must demand more from technology…especially since their mayors, clerk-treasurers, council members, and managed service providers are clueless about the power they’re already paying for!
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