Corporate board meetings can be stressful. To present the most up-to- date information in a pile of boardbooks requires research, coordination and a frenzy of activity right up until the meeting starts; plus there are updates, printing, assembly, shipping and shredding. By offering boardbooks on tablet computers, Tony Laska, SVP and CIO at BrickStreet Insurance, a workers’ compensation insurer, was able to save the company time and effort while reducing paper waste and offering better information more conveniently.
INN: What problem were you trying to solve by implementing Boardbooks from Diligent Board Member Services?
Tony Laska: We have two administrative assistants who would gather each of 12 board members’ presentations, put them in a binder and then make changes as necessary. It took them three or four days to get that information compiled and ready to be presented. Then after the meeting, they’d spend a whole day shredding the materials the board members didn’t want to take home, because we’d send them an electronic copy of the presentation. We said there’s got to be a tool out there to help us eliminate the frenzy in the last hour before the board meeting.
INN: Paint a picture for me; if I’m one of the admins, what does Diligent do? How do I do it?
TL: The admins take the electronic documents the executive team sends them, and the Boardbook technology steps them through building an electronic binder, with tabs and a table of contents, that tells them where they put the documents and how to link to them. It creates the book, then it’s just updates and deletions. Once all the information is there, they hit “publish.”
INN: So you weren’t using SharePoint or an intranet. This was from paper to electronic in one fell swoop?
TL: We thought about SharePoint, but most of the board members do not bring their laptops to the meetings.
INN: How does this help the company? Does it confer an operational or a competitive advantage?
TL: It’s mostly tactical. It allows us to manage the board meetings more effectively and share documents with the board members anytime and anywhere while managing access. Board members can just sign on. On the strategic front, we’ve been using it within the senior management team in our planning processes to coordinate the documents and circulate them through a common tool that’s easy to access from anywhere.
INN: Are there any points of integration? Is it drawing data from any other systems?
TL: Our finance team uses Tableau to create many of the charts and graphs. It’s easy to create PDFs out of those. We populate them into the board presentations directly. That’s a manual process today because the reports have been evolving.
INN: How did you cost-justify the project?
TL: It’s gone from five days for the two executive team admins down to five hours. It probably takes two or three hours to collect all the information, populate the presentation and create the book, then an hour to make the changes that occur normally to update information. We eliminated four days from the process. Plus there’s no involvement at all from IT, unless somebody forgets their password.
INN: How did you choose Diligent?
TL: It was between Diligent and another company. Each presented and gave us references; we talked with them, and queried our board members. A few members sit on other boards and had used similar boardbooks. When we looked at functionality, the common interface and ease of use, that’s what sold us.
INN: What devices does it work on?
TL: iPad, Microsoft Surface, a laptop, any browser. The look and feel is consistent through each of those mechanisms.
INN: How long did it take from implementation to go-live?
TL: The lapse time was probably four to six weeks, but no more than maybe 20 or 30 hours.
INN: The admins are the primary users; what kind of tech people support them?
TL: Just me. Most of it was just getting the board members to remember their passwords and teaching them to sign on.
INN: Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
TL: Not much. The first board meeting, everybody got on. It took a little bit to get them used to it, but now everybody loves it. Two minutes before the board meeting, if we want to stick in new information, they pull it up and we insert it and away we go.
INN: What’s the one thing you want people to know about this project?
TL: The look and feel across devices was important. Several board members have commented that when they get back after a meeting, with a browser, they know how to get around. Or if they’re on a trip and we need them to look at something, they know how to access it. That ease of use and common interface was the biggest selling point and still is.
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