The legislative voting system at the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (a.k.a. “Metro”) supports 40 Council members and several Metro departments as they develop important legislation for more than 700,000 constituents. Established in 1963 and comprising the world-renowned City of Nashville and surrounding Davidson County, Metro was the first completely consolidated city-county government in the United States.
In 2014, the Metropolitan Clerk’s Office was operating a legislative voting system that was nearing the end of its operational life. Required to perform the essential functions critical to running a Council meeting, the system was used to tabulate and record Council votes, as well as to control display monitors and microphones. When the system began experiencing audio and technical failures, the Clerk’s Metro Office recognized the need to evaluate their options.
In addition to technical failures, the legacy solution lacked important functional features, such as storing information or automating any part of the legislative process. Since the existing workflow required redundant data entry, a solution that enabled data to be keyed in only once would save time and money when generating multiple formats. For example, the ability to access stored data would streamline the production of agendas, minutes, public displays, web pages, and other resources. Overall, the goal was to create a multi-functional, integrated legislative management and voting solution that could be customized to meet Metro’s specific needs.
With an understanding of the system’s shortcomings, the Metro Clerk’s Office was ready to find a better solution. Shannon Hall, Metropolitan Clerk of Nashville and Davidson County, was the point person for the search.
“My colleagues and I began educating ourselves on what technology and resources existed for the legislative market, and assessing those features against our processes, needs, and gaps,” said Hall. “Since no one system seemed to meet our needs, we had to find a way to craft a comprehensive and easy-to-use solution.”
Unfortunately, most legislative voting systems on the market failed to integrate the legislation development process into the presentation and voting system. These are generally available as two separate systems. Other challenges related to ensuring the system’s compatibility with the existing audio-visual infrastructure.
Upon evaluating the challenges, Metro leaders agreed on the need to engage an expert consultant who could:
1. Elicit Metro’s business priorities and workflows from the Metro Clerk’s Office and other key stakeholders.
2. Translate the business priorities and workflows into functional and technical requirements.
3. Be a customer-centric advocate in all dealings with external vendors.
4. Help design a solution that would enable Metro to conduct critical business for its Council and constituents.
5. Provide world-class project management services capable of enlisting multiple resources from various IT disciplines to work as a cooperative team.
After extensive research, Metro selected iSeek Solutions to coordinate the effort, locate vendors, and oversee the implementation process. “We needed a project manager to help us properly identify, procure, and deploy a fully integrated solution,” said Hall. “It was clear that iSeek understood our vision, could serve as liaison to external vendors, and would help us put the new system in place successfully.”
Annie Allen, iSeek Solutions, facilitated the gathering of business and technical requirements for Metro’s request for proposal. Annie’s expansive experience in IT and application solutions assisted Metro in evaluating vendor responses and negotiating contracts.
Upon carefully evaluating software alternatives, the search committee chose Scytl as the primary software vendor. The company’s secure election management and voting solutions are trusted around the world to enable and improve participatory democracy.
Every project, of course, has its challenges. During the process, Scytl faced unforeseen issues with its partner vendors, which affected the development timeline. However, the fact that Metro’s legacy system was failing, and the implementation window could not be moved, the project team had to readdress the deliverables and timeframes.
To ensure a solution was in place to allow Metro to conduct a Council meeting, iSeek worked closely with Scytl to regroup on a modified requirements delivery approach. “Annie was unfazed by the demanding schedule and remained engaged throughout the implementation,” said Jesse Turner, a contract consultant with Metro and iSeek partner. “What could have been an overwhelming situation resulted in an impressive display of teamwork.”
The new, first-of-its-kind, integrated legislative voting system is being developed and rolled out in a phased approach. When the roll-out is completed, the “best of breed” business and technology solution will automate and streamline legislative functions while reducing manual processes and wasted paper.
Tabetha Parker, Scytl Project Manager, cites iSeek’s leadership as a key factor in the project team’s ability to develop and deliver the solution. “The project management abilities and technical knowledge of the iSeek team, combined with their high-end client relations skills, was exemplary,” said Parker. “Scytl will find it a privilege to work with them again.”
Hall was equally impressed with iSeek’s leadership. “Without iSeek’s assistance and support, we would not have been able to meet the critical goals we set,” she said. “Despite our challenges, they came through and continue to help us succeed. We would not be where we are without them.”