Build Board Meeting Books in Less Than Five Minutes!

Diligent host: Good morning everyone and thanks for taking the time to join today’s webinar with Diligent. Today, we’re going to discuss how you can build board meeting books in less than five minutes. I’m joined today by my colleague, Gregory Prinsloo, who is responsible for our sales and business development here in Africa. Before we get started today, I have a couple of housekeeping notes.

This webinar should last about thirty minutes. We are recording it and a replay will be sent to everybody on the line and everybody that registered in the next twenty four hours. Please feel free to forward this along to any of your colleagues or board members who may have missed today’s webinar and also feel free to ask a question at any time. You can do so through the “Ask a question” pane on the right-hand side of your screen.

At the end of today’s demonstration, we’ll answer as many questions as we can. Anything that we don’t have time for, we’ll come back to you via email. Before we move on to the main part of our presentation today, we are keen to understand how you are currently doing things at your organization. We have a couple of polls that we would appreciate if you could participate in.

The first one here, I’m just going to launch as you can see. It says, “How are you currently distributing your board materials?” You have a number of options here … Documents are printed and distributed by courier. Perhaps you’re sending them via email in PDF format. Alternatively, you could be using Dropbox or another file-sharing solution, alternatively, an internal solution, or perhaps you’re already using a board portal. Let me just wait a few more seconds for some votes to come in. I can see there’s a few more waiting.

When we’ve run this poll before, we’ve typically seen that the large majority of people are doing either of the second or third option, so sending via email or using a solution such as Dropbox. Let me just close these results here and bring them up for you all to see. Interesting … Forty percent are currently using Dropbox or another file-sharing solution, some people are using a board portal, which is great to see, and some distributing by courier. Interestingly, we don’t have anyone on the line that is sending via email in PDF format.

The second poll of the day and final poll of the day that we would like you to participate in is, “How long does it actually take you to build your board meeting books?” Once you have all the materials from your various stakeholders, how long does it take you to build those books? The options that we have are, “A few minutes”, which I would imagine is not very many of you, “A few hours”, “A couple of days”, “A couple of weeks”, or “Other” if none of the above apply to you. Again, when we’ve done this poll before, we typically see that the majority of organizations are somewhere in the second, third, and fourth options there.

Again, I’m just going to wait a few more seconds before I bring those results up. Let’s have a look now … Again, a very even split as predicted. Most people are spending between a few hours, a couple of days. Hopefully for those that are in a couple of days, the presentation that we’ll be delivering today – the demonstration, rather – will show you how you can cut that down dramatically. With that, I would like to hand you over to Greg, who is going to take you through the Diligent application.

Greg: Thank you. Good day, everyone. My name is Gregory Prinsloo. I am the sales and business development director for Africa. What I’m going to take you through now is the agenda for today. I am going to take you through the organizing files either on a shared drive or on your desktop, uploading of files to create a new book within the Diligent administrative site, permission settings either group or user, approvals of the book, publishing and updates so that it’s available for the directors and executives to view, and then other shortcuts, [mainly later papers 00:04:25].

This would be your typical process. You’re going to get information from different divisions: marketing, finance, etcetera. The formats would normally be in Excel, Word, PDF, PowerPoint, JPEG. The administrator will then collate that book and then, send it via courier or email or Dropbox or other materials to the directors or the executives. What I’m going to do now is take you through the administrative side of the system.

I’m going to show you how easy it is to build a book in only a few minutes … I’m sure you can all see my screen at the moment. This is the Diligent administration module. It is a Windows-based application. I’m going to get started in showing you how to build a book. What you do is you would right-click on the page. You can either copy and rename an existing book. This is if you have board meetings that are very similar in nature or today what we’re going to do is create a book from scratch.

I’m going to click on “Create a book from scratch”. I’m going to then choose a future date and give this a title. Once I push OK, this is going to take me into my next screen. This is an additional safety. If you time out your session, it gives you your password again so that you have to log in. This now takes me into my following screen. Now what historically happened is, as I said, administrators would take their information, they would manually do it, collate the information, and send it through.

Board portals came out and you were then able to create the structure within the board portal, so you would manually build your board structure. What I’m going to show you today is a bulk upload tool that Diligent launched about nine months ago. This will drastically change the industry and is [inaudible 00:06:44] going to save you a lot of time. If you can see on the right here, I have a desktop folder open.

Some of you that have the GoToWebinar open, it might be covering it, so if you want to push the orange button on the top right-hand side, that will minimize it. Now I’m hoping you can all see on the right-hand side here is my [file 00:07:09] folder. If I go into my file folder, this would typically be a board book or annual report. I have my agenda, my [CEO 00:07:19] report, my my CFO report, my minutes, etcetera.

Within those would be the different formats, so the documents that I would be using: PDF, PowerPoint, as I discussed earlier. What I’m going to do now is I’m simply going to take [the 00:07:36] folder, drag and drop it into the Diligent application. Once I do this, you can see it already created my tab folder. I’m now going to import this into the Diligent system.

As we spoke about earlier, it normally would take somewhere between days and weeks to collate the information and then publish the book through to the directors. If you can see over the bulk upload tool, it’s literally taking a few minutes. This takes a copy or an image of the documents, the file folders. It then encrypts the information, uploads it to our servers in Germany, and then once happy, you approve it, which I’m going to take you through the process.

You approve that board book and the next step is to [publish it to 00:08:25] the directors, so that they can work and annotate on it. Now you can see, yeah, we’re already [inaudible 00:08:33] eighty one percent [inaudible 00:08:35]. It’s not even a minute that it’s actually been uploading this. You can imagine back in the day with a hundred, two hundred page document, how long it actually took to complete. You can see the upload is complete over here.

What I’m going to do now is collapse these tabs. I can then reorder the structure. What I’m going to do is move my CFO report before my CEO report. I then expand that. There’s a two stage approval, yeah. If I click on approve, this will then take me into a view. Typically a administrator would collate the information and maybe a chairman or somebody else, company secretary, would actually approve the final document before it gets published.

If you can see on my left-hand side, everything is in red. This means it is not approved. What I’m going to do now is I can either approve a document, the entire tab, or the entire book. For today’s purposes, I’m going to approve the entire book. This then brings up a warning and asks me if I’m sure I want to approve this. I’m going to say yes. Now if you look on the left-hand side, everything red all turned to black.

The next stage in the process is if you can see in the top left-hand corner, my book status is still hidden. I click on that. You can see it says “Hidden – Not viewable on director’s side”. What I want to do then is make it current, which means it’s available for the directors. Again, I can either do this via group settings or user settings. I can allow only certain people to view or I can disallow people to view certain things.

Once I approve this, my book is then published and it means it’s ready for my directors. What I’m going to do now is jump quite quickly into our director’s view, our director application. I’m just going to log in with my credentials. What you see now is the director’s view. I’m going to work on the [inaudible 00:10:53] board. I’m working in current books.

If you can see on the top left-hand side, my April board meeting that I just created is immediately available … What I do is I click on the sync button. This then is downloading a portion of the book, downloading the book for the directors to actually view. I think there’s three things from a director’s perspective that they’d like to do. Number one is to download the book so they can work offline, which I’ve just shown you.

Number two would be to actually read. This works very similar or exactly the same as a Kindle or an e-reader. I click from left to right and I scroll through my book. I can use the scroll bar at the bottom to go to the page that I want to or I think what I like to use the most is the navigation pane. I can jump to any page that I’d like to go to. The next thing a director would like to do is to annotate.

What I’m going to do now is just use a highlighter. It’s freehand highlighting. I can highlight as much as I want. I can also have various colors. What some people like to do is to use maybe yellow for things they approve of that they like, green they’re not so sure of, and one of the other colors maybe for … If we need to bring this to people’s attention. I can also then use a pen.

I can circle, I can freehand write with it, but my writing’s not of the best, so what I’m going to do is add a sticky note very similar to the sticky notes you’d use at your desk. I’m going to write a little note here: “Please comment on figures.” As you can see, by default, on the bottom left-hand corner, yeah, it says “private”. Now this means it’s only for my view. What I can do, however, is make this public to everyone.

If I want to bring something to everyone’s attention, I make public to everyone or if I want to discuss something with only a few people, I can also do that. Once I click OK, you’re going to see it’s going to be another pop-up asking me if I’m sure I’d like to do that and I’m going to share this. Now if you can see in the top right-hand corner over here, it has multiple people on the sticky note. This means that it’s actually creating a conversation between you and other directors that you chose.

Now this in a nutshell, in very brief, is the director’s view. What we’re going to do in the next webinar is take you through the director’s view in depth. What I’m going to do now is go to something that I’m sure is a gripe for everyone: [later 00:13:41] papers. I’m just going to hop back into my administrative view.

I’m going to choose where I would like to add in the later paper … It’s on the right-hand side here, I have [a minute 00:13:55] version two. I go through [my 00:13:58] same process. I drag and drop it. I can either replace the document that’s in that tab or add the document to that tab. This is then going through the same process of uploading and encrypting it.

I’m going to mark that as new and just add a note here: “Please see added minutes”. I’m going to upload this into the administrative side into the board pack. This will take a few seconds because it’s doing the same thing. It’s encrypting it, converting it, and uploading it to our secure servers.

Now once this is uploaded, I’m going to go through the same process. I’m going to approve that. That then takes me into the viewing screen and if I’m happy with this, what I’m going to do now is only approve this document. I don’t need to approve the entire book again because it’s already been published. If I approve that document, you’re going to see on the left-hand side everything in red again will turn to black. Now I’m going to jump to my director’s view once more just to show you how quickly it actually works.

I’m going to check for updates and you’re going to see on the top left-hand side here, it says “Updates available”. I then sync it and you can see how quickly that actually happened. Now I’m sure if you are using PDF or other types of share folders or other types of ways to get it across, you actually have to download the whole book. The problem with that is you’re going to have to go through a two hundred or three hundred page document to try and find what was actually updated.

Now you saw with Diligent, all that it did was update the document that we replaced or added in. You can see here it says “Update history”. If I click on that, it will tell me when it was updated, what was updated, and any notes the administrator might have added. I can go directly into my paper. What I’m going to do now is go back into my presentation and take you through a few more things.

I’m sure you can all see my screen again. What I did is I took you through a typical process, a collection of information, and how administrators would build their books. I think I showed you how quick and easy it would be in the Diligent program. I think the next thing is, typically what companies would ask is, more information about the company and how would assist them in taking on such an application.

Diligent has been around since 2001. We solely focused on board portal technology. We’re not a company that has multiple products, so our main focus and everything surrounding the company is board portal. We currently have over a hundred and twenty thousand board members, executive, and administrative users in over seventy four countries.

I think the biggest thing and the thing we’re most proud of would be our client retention rate, which is ninety seven percent. Now in software as a service, this is unheard of. As you know in software as a service, you can choose every year to go or cancel your contract and move on. They choose to stay with us. This is due to our dedicated account management team and our award-winning customer success. What I’m going to do now is hand back in case there are any questions.

Diligent host: Thank you, Greg. Yes. We’ve had a couple of questions come in from the audience that seem to be very common, so I’ll go through those. The first question is, “What happens to notes if you have to replace a document? Are they lost or do they get retained somewhere?”

Greg: Yes. I mean, this is quite a headache. I can imagine having a two hundred page document, you went through those documents a couple of days before the board meeting, they replaced one or two documents, and your notes were lost. I can imagine the frustration. What Diligent … They created a note saver facility in the application. What it does is it electronically moves the notes from one document to the new version, so there’s no way of you losing any notes or annotations. Thank you. Is there another question?

Diligent host: Yes. Thank you, Greg. The next question is, “What happens if I don’t have all the documents available at the time of publishing a book? Is it possible to add them in afterwards?”

Greg: Yes. Thank you. I think, as I said, the biggest gripe from building board material would be later papers. Typically it would be from a financial perspective. People are always updating the figures and I think those [inaudible 00:19:19] papers. From a Diligent perspective, what happens is you can publish your board material, your board pack.

When you have that information, you can publish it. If you have any later papers, you can publish that at a later stage and it will be available immediately for your directors or your executives. Any more questions?

Diligent host: Great. Thank you, Greg. Those were the questions that seemed to be very common across all of our audience. We do have some very individual questions, so we will make sure to come back to each of you over email on that. It looks like we’ll be able to give you all a couple of minutes back today.

Moving on to our final slide of the day, if you are keen to find out more about board portals and Diligent boards specifically, we recommend that you visit our website There you will find lots of resources, white papers, case studies, product brochures for you to find out more information. You also have the option to schedule a demonstration as well.

Also, we have the next webinar in our autumn webinar series. That one is taking place on April 20th. As Greg said, that one will be going into much more detail on the director’s application. When I send out the recording of today’s webinar, I will include a link to that one. We look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible. Thank you very much for joining today, everyone, and have a great day. Thank you. Bye bye.

  • I am going to take you through the organizing files either on a shared drive or on your desktop, uploading of files to create a new book within the Diligent administrative site,
  • Gregory Prinsloo

    Regional Sales Director, Sales

    permission settings either group or user, approvals of the book, publishing and updates so that it's available for the directors and executives to view, and then other shortcuts.