Becoming a Paperless Board of Directors

Although we’re a little late, we still think it’s important to celebrate Earth Day, not only on April 22, but everyday. With that said, we think it is a great time to bring up one of the conversations we had with our clients about becoming a paperless board of directors at our BE Connected User Conference held in October.

When transitioning from a paper system of document distribution, getting your board of directors to go paperless can be a significant change especially when faced with board members who are accustomed to using paper copies of meeting materials.  It takes some planning and considerations prior to the roll-out but with proper planning, it can be very successful. Read on to learn more about one of those stories from a client who started using BoardEffect’s board meeting software.

Once upon a time…

One of our clients was using a paper system to distribute materials to her board members (sound familiar?). Then one day, she decided to go paperless. She works at a university with board members of varying comfort levels using technology. As she was pondering the implementation of a paperless board book implementation, she had several considerations.

She had some organizational considerations:

There were some logistical considerations:

  • Should we purchase iPads for the directors?
  • If we do, how do we manage their Apple IDs and the general maintenance?
  • Do the directors need a data plan if we purchase an iPad for them?

Then she thought about roll-out considerations:

  • How will this change how my team and I prepare for meetings?
  • How can we train the board?
  • What if there are board members that won’t use an iPad?
  • Who will administer each committee?

Finally, it was time to think about policy considerations:

  • Is the app secure?
  • How will confidentiality be maintained?
  • What happens when a board member leaves the board?
  • What if a board member loses their iPad?

After working through these considerations, she found that the roll-out worked well because there was 100 percent support from the president, chair, senior staff and administrative assistants. To address the issue of iPads, she surveyed the board to see who already owned them and purchased them for trustees who did not. She gave the board the option to use a data plan but did not require it. To garner support from the board, she selected some trustees who were already using iPads to try out the app and gain their support and had this group use the app at their meeting. To ensure all the board members felt comfortable using the app, training was done by her in-person individually and she created individual Apple IDs for all of the users. Within six months, almost all the board was using the iPad app. There was one trustee who decided not to use the iPad whatsoever and another that partially uses it so to stick with her plan of being paperless, she sends their assistant the PDF of the book and asks them to print it out. She worked with her team to construct policies for when board members rotate off the board or if they would lose their device. They came to the conclusion that if the board member leaves the board, they keep the iPad but their connection to the portal is severed.

Our administrator was happy because she didn’t have to print, assemble and mail copies of the books which we affectionately refer to here as Show Pony Day. The board members were happy because they don’t have to haul heavy binders around and they can access their meeting materials on the go. And the earth was happy because they were saving trees and wasting less paper.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Jeremy Barlow

Jeremy is the Director of Digital Marketing at BoardEffect.