Australian Red Cross turns to Diligent Boards™ to enhance productivity

In addition to being a leading provider of humanitarian aid in Australia, the Australian Red Cross also provides a range of services and programmes, including international aid across the Asia-Pacific region, the advocacy of international humanitarian law, migration support, emergency management, blood donation and community services. The Australian Red Cross has been a Diligent Boards™ client since April 2017.

BACKGROUND

The Australian Red Cross is governed by the National Council, which is made up of 53 voting members including the President and the National Board. The National Council delegates operational and management decisions and other responsibilities to the National Board and the CEO.

The Red Cross’ National Board is a volunteer board with 16 members, eight of which are representatives of each state and territory within Australia. The members are a mix of highly skilled workers, including accountants, lawyers, and businesspersons, as well as volunteers and philanthropists. These members are the key policy-makers for the Australian Red Cross, meeting bimonthly.

CHALLENGE

The Australian Red Cross was using a board portal solution, BoardLink, to manage its board papers, after moving from a paper-based system in 2008. Its previous board packs consisted of more than 500 pages of paper and were time consuming to assemble and produce for each of the 16 board members.

The objective of implementing BoardLink was to shift to an electronic system for its board packs; however, the not-for-profit struggled with user uptake. The BoardLink solution was cumbersome to use and many of the board’s long-standing members were resistant to change, resulting in a continuing reliance on paper. BoardLink also offered offshore support, making it difficult to get timely responses to issues with the system.

Frustrated with the double-handling and time-consuming process, Board Secretary Jeni McDonough was optimistic that market-leader Diligent would assist the Australian Red Cross’ National Board to completely transition to a digital process, after Diligent acquired BoardLink in 2015.

APPROACH

Diligent Boards is the first choice for organisational leaders seeking more efficient, effective information sharing and collaboration tools. Diligent provides secure, immediate access to critical information, enabling board members to gain secure and easy access to online documents anytime, anywhere and from any device.

The Australian Red Cross implemented Diligent Boards in April 2017, replacing its previous BoardLink system. Diligent was deeply invested in the success of the implementation and committed to providing a more secure, user-friendly solution than the not-for-profit’s previous experience. Board members gained an increased level of trust in the Diligent solution, resulting in 100 percent uptake from board members.

McDonough said the implementation was smooth, with all documents from its previous system moving seamlessly across to Diligent Boards.

“The 24x7x365 support has just been fantastic, a real game changer for us,” McDonough said. “If I ever have an issue, I can get on the phone and speak to someone straight away, and my issue is usually resolved before I hang up the phone.”

“We have board members in their 70s who aren’t as confident using iPads or an electronic solution, so Diligent arranged one-on-one training. I think that hands-on approach has been key to the successful uptake of the solution.”

McDonough commented that security has also improved significantly, with the additional functionality provided by Diligent making it easier to “lock down” security threats.

“We’ve stopped the ability to print, turned off the download functionality and we now feel more secure that our board papers aren’t going to get out to where they shouldn’t be. Papers are only available to members on their personal devices, which are all password protected. I feel that we’re in much better control of who can access what and when,” she said.

RESULTS

Thanks to Diligent Boards, the Australian Red Cross’ National Board functions in a more secure, productive manner, saving at least five hours from its previous board paper preparation process.

“The first time we used Diligent was in February, and we all wondered if we were missing something because it was so quick and easy compared to our previous process. All the stress has gone, it has just been brilliant,” McDonough said.

“Now that we’re with Diligent, I have the ability to share papers from the start of building them, which is usually about a week or two before our board meetings. The CEO and President can preview the papers to ensure they’re happy with the way it’s developing, so I don’t feel like I’m flying blind.”

McDonough commented that additional functionality has enabled the board to be more collaborative, by adding notes or annotations to board papers on the go.

“It has meant our meetings now move faster as well because it’s a lot easier to navigate through the papers. Everyone is loving how user-friendly the system is,” she said.

“I’ve worked in administration for 36 years and the experience I’ve had with Diligent has been exceptional. The people working on our account are helpful and passionate about their jobs, which has made it just so much easier for me.”

  • I’ve worked in administration for 36 years and the experience I’ve had with Diligent has been exceptional.
  • Jeni McDonough

    Board Secretary

    The first time we used Diligent was in February, and we all wondered if we were missing something because it was so quick and easy compared to our previous process.