This post is seeking the wisdom of the crowd – so please feel free to pass it on to anyone who you think might have suggestions.
Recently I was a participant in a multiple hour meeting that had several interstate attendees, representing agencies from other jurisdictions or from outside of government. Discussion turned to how we might include others who wanted to participate, but would be unable to travel to the next scheduled meeting because of budget constraints.
As many public servants will know, the budget for official travel is constantly being reviewed and often reduced for a number of reasons including fiscal constraint.
For shorter meetings teleconferencing can be a great option. For longer meetings, with several members also participating by phone, I have always found that the meeting tends to suffer and it’s difficult for those participating remotely to fully engage. This is particularly the case for meetings that are less structured or where the discussion needs to be more free-flowing.
So naturally the conversation turned to how we might do video conferencing or some form of virtual meeting. Now some of the individual agencies have developed solutions, particularly for those agencies with multiple offices across the country. Unfortunately, it does get a little trickier when we look across multiple agencies in differing jurisdictions.
As many of you would again be aware, often public sector agencies have restrictions around various technology platforms, including many video conferencing solutions – this may be for good security, cost, performance or reliability reasons.
But these limitations may be just the thing to encourage us to look to other, more innovative solutions – to give us the means and reason to break from our traditional meeting habits and get us to use newer, better (and lower cost) solutions.
In that vein, we would like to hear from others in the public sector who have run successful multi-party video conferencing/virtual meetings. What has worked for you? (Bonus points if the solution was easy, cheap and could work across multiple ICT environments in different agencies.)