Build a Board Meeting Pack in less than five minutes!

Kate: Welcome everyone to the first webinar of the Diligent webinar series. My name’s Kate Ellis and I’ll be your joint host today. Just a little bit about myself. I run the marketing here for Diligent across Australia and New Zealand. Diligent provides secure collaboration towards the boards, leadership teams, and is trusted by over 140 thousand board members and executives worldwide.

Now we’ve designed a series of webinar topics over the coming months for the areas of your professional development. For today’s session we’ve brought together Patrick and myself, who runs the Perth office. Now before I pass you over to Patrick, I’ll just run through a couple of things. The webinar will run for about 30 minutes today which consists of perhaps 25 minute presentation and 5 minutes Q&A at the end.

If you have any questions, please do type them into the chat box on the right of your screen, and Patrick and I will address them at the end of the presentation. Our host today as mentioned before is Patrick Browne-Cooper. He looks after business development for WA, northern territory, Tasmania, and south Australia. Let’s get started, over to you Patrick.

Patrick: Thanks so much Kate, and welcome everybody, thanks for joining us this morning. This morning, as Kate mentioned, we’re going to have a chat about how we use our solution to really drive efficiencies in the preparation and distribution of our boards materials. A little bit about us before we jump in. We were founding in 2001, we’ve got our global offices, and we pretty much have a pretty significant presence around the globe with over 140 thousand directors using our solution to review and prepare for their meetings on a daily basis.

Here in Australia we’ve got over 500 client, so it’s growing every week. We work with organisations across the gamut. We work with organisations such your Quantus, Telstra, federal government departments such as the federal department for education, and the federal department for trade and immigration. All who’ve selected us on the basis of 3 of our major principles being, obviously the security of the documentation that we provide for them, with their most sensitive board materials. For ease of use for directors in preparing for those meetings, and also a successful implementation that we work with.

We work with organisations on a personal level. Account managers throughout the nation make sure that those are, those preparations and executions of the success plans for implementing Diligent boards through an organisations board and administer obtains, runs really seamlessly. That really does drive our client retention rate.

We only have 12 month contracts for our clients, but our clients stick with us and we’re really proud to hang our hat on that 99% retention rate. Our clients all have the opportunity to move on after 12 months, but we’ve got a great client retention rate and that’s based on the way that we support, and that way that we work with the organisations that we support.

I’ve got here on the slide a typical process. Now this is all that we do as a business, so we really focus on making sure that the solution is bespoke, it’s fit for purpose, it’s easy for you guys internally to collate all your documents, and it’s also a really straight forward and simple for the board to create efficiencies for both parties in preparing and reviewing the board meeting material.

You can see there on the left that typically what you’re administrator would receive from various departments within an organisation may come through to them in various different formats. Excel, Word, PDF’s, all different kinds of formats. I can tell from some of the questionnaires that we sent out before the meeting that the majority of you are receiving that documentation in a PDF format, and then you’re emailing it out to the board, or providing it to the board, in a Dropbox or another cloud based server where you maybe don’t have the security and the easy of use functionality that a board portal system like Diligent provides.

Then what the, what we’re doing from an administrative perspective is we’re collating all those different materials into our board pack and preparing that for the board. Which is exactly what we’re going to do here today. We’re going to run you through that solution, show you how it works, and then we’re also going to have a quick look at how that looks from a board directors perspective, how they go about preparing for the meeting. We’ll also focus more on the board members experience in some of our webinars that are coming up in the next few weeks.

If we haven’t covered everything that you want to see today, never fear we’ll have another one of these in the next few weeks where we’re going to have a little bit more of a focus on what the board itself, what their experiences are like to make sure that you guys get a full understanding of both ends of the spectrum.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to build a book quickly. We’re going to control the distribution. We’re going to make the information very easy to find and to navigate. We’re going to review and have a look at our approval processes, and we’re going to share updates and interact with the board and within the board in a very seamless fashion.

Let’s jump into the platform and see what we’re talking about here today. I’ve just got to get my Diligent board app up. This is what you as an administrator will have sitting on your desktop. I’ll just makes this a little bit larger so that we can all see what I’m doing here, and I’m just going to minimise this screen over here. Just bare with me while I get this set up so that it’s nice and clear for you all.

I can see here I’ve logged into my Diligent boards app. This is what we call our one click app that sits on your PC, and allows you to create the documents within the secure confines of the Diligent board software. This is proprietary software which is bespoke and built just for this purpose. This is also what a director would see if they were going to review their papers on a PC. We have a few directors who do that, although the majority nowadays are using a web, sorry a tablet device, either a Surface Pro or a, one of the other devices out there, maybe an iPad. That’s probably the most common one that is used out there in the market today.

As an administrator I’ve got some additional privileges that obviously the board wouldn’t have. I’ve got access to the full admin site. I can email my fellow administration team, within organisations of different sizes there’s multiple individuals working on it, and that’s also how we’ll track our approval process once the documents are working through their approval processes and ready to go. I can also email the board of directors, which is how we communicate with the board.

The last thing we want to be doing is flooding the directors with notifications and emails all the time. At Diligent we put you guys in charge of that process, making sure that you are communicating with the board to make sure that it’s effective and it’s efficient, and that they’re not getting information arbitrarily or all the time that you’re not aware of. You guys are in complete control of that.

Here you can see I’ve got my current board documentation, so this is what’s available for the board in their current area. They’ve also obviously have an archived area where all of their previous board back material will be. There’s a resources and calendars, contact areas, which we’ll also have a look at when we have a look at the directors interface itself.

I’ve got my current books, archive, a calendar, I’ve got the contact details so the directors can keep in touch with one another, and the resources centre which is where you can populate all your policies and procedures, the board constitution, all of that sort of information can be kept within there.

Let’s go ahead and skip to the chase, we’re all here to see exactly how we’re going to build the pack within [inaudible 00:07:48] That’s what I’m going to show you now. I’m going to come into this area, and I’m going to right click and create a book from scratch. If your board packs are pretty much the same month on month, you can copy the structure that you previously used a previous month and that will bring through those file divider systems that you’ve set up previously.

If we’re going to do it from scratch, I’m going to show you how we use our bulk upload feature in order to do it in a very efficient manner. I’m going to choose our meeting to be on the 15th September, and I’ll call it our September 15 board meeting. I’ll click okay, and whilst it’s getting our area ready to be, for the pack to be built within, I’ll just open up this folder here. This is typically what we would have from within the organisation of the kinds of documents that we need to create our board papers.

What we’ve got here is an agenda, we’ve got the approval of minutes from the last meeting, our finance department has sent through a bunch of different documents in different formats, we’ve got some Excel spreadsheets, some PowerPoint presentations, perhaps some PDF’s. I’ve got folders and sub-folders that I would like to be represented as point 1, or point 4, or point 2, in our folder structure. I’m going to now show you how Diligent’s going to pick up on that folder structure and automatically create the tabs for you.

Okay, so here it is. I’ve got all of those documents in that folder, simply drag and drop them all in, doesn’t matter whether you’re using Trim or Sharepoint, another document management system. Diligent will automatically work with all of those drag and drop scenarios. I can come in, I’ll do a few things to tidy up, such as create a tab for every folder. I’m also going to get Diligent to pick up on any Excel spreadsheets that I’ve got, and make sure it brings in just the data sheets, not sheets with empty cells in there.

Also, I’m going to order my files numerically, but I’m going to do a little bit of future proofing and remove those leading numbers from the file names. Quite often the agenda will change closer to the time of the meeting, and I don’t want to have to go through and renumber all of my documents just because the agenda’s changed. If I do that, keeps it flexible, bit of future proofing on my own behalf.

Whilst that’s importing, it’s going to bring all the documents through, but it’s keeping them in their native format. If they were prepared in a Word format, or Excel, or PDF, it’s keeping them in whatever format they were prepared in, thusly allow me that flexibility to change them and amend them as time goes on. When we’re using Diligent we don’t want to create one big PDF, we want it to be a flexible document which will enable me to manage any changes that come through.

Having said that, there’s only ever one version of the document. Now from a governance perspective that’s obviously an essential feature of the tool, in that we’re only ever creating one version of our document, and any annotations, or any amendments that we make to that one document that we prepare, we have a full audit trail so that we can provide that if auditors do ask for it. We can see who’s done what, who’s done when, and that way we’re keeping our governance principles intact and keeping everything as it should be.

Once my documents are through, I can come in here and start to do my review process. Now conflicts of interest and declarations do come up from time to time. Diligent provides you with a very simple way of managing these. For an example, I’ve got here the performance review for our CEO. I’m going to click on more, and I can see it’s a Word document, so if I wanted to edit it I could edit it within the Word platform. I’m going to click here on viewers, and I’m going to select which viewers can use it.

I’m going to specify that everybody except for our CEO Abby is going to have access to this document. Now from a logistical perspective it’s very important that we understand that Abby will see that as an agenda item, but she will not see the contents of that document. Her pagination, so the way she navigates her way through the document, will still remain the same as everyone else’s. Her page 35 will still stay the same as everyone else’s 35, she just will not see pages 28 and 29, because the conflict interest that we’ve controlled here, we’ve hidden that document from her.

Within the meeting that’s quite often a frustration with different individuals having different versions, and not being able to navigate to the same point. If I come in here and have a look at the history of the document, it’s going to show me exactly what I’ve done to that document and when. That’s available to you guys at any time, I can see that it’s not yet approved, it’s current, it’s an admin folder. I can come in and see who’s done what, where, and when. I’ve got that history there at my disposal.

If I come back up to the top, I’m going to collapse all the tabs at the moment, just so that you can see what I would do if the agenda changed. Let’s say that the operations report has become a critical agenda item and has been moved right up to the top of the meeting. Simply drag and drop it, that’s where it’ll go. I’m going to come back into my agenda tab, I’m going to edit this tab itself because the agenda tab at the moment has number on it.

Those numbers are reflective if the agenda item, and because the agenda is not an agenda item in it’s own right, I’m going to make it a non-number tab. That way I’ve got my approval of minutes as my first agenda item, my operations report as my second. I’m just going to move that back because it doesn’t actually represent the layer we have it set up in our agenda, so we want it to look good.

Another function that’s really quite useful when you’re using Diligent is if you’re, quite often we find the organisations that we work with that they’re holding back on getting their board pack through to the board, because there may be one particular department, quite often finance especially at the end of the year, are running late on getting their documents ready. I can actually create a place holder tab, and I’m going to call this the finance report placeholder.

This way I have created a place for that report to come into, but because it’s not ready yet, I’m going to add a, just a placeholder document in there. That way the board are kept informed of where we’re up to in the preparation of their materials. I’ve just got the document in a slightly odd position here. The board are kept aware with where we’re up to with their materials, I’m just going to drag and drop this one in. That’s a slight frustration that we’ve got there. We’ll just use another document here, we’ll drag and drop it in.

Now there’s a document there as a placeholder document just letting the board know that we’re waiting for the full report to come in. I can add a little note to that to make sure that I’ve made it clear for the board as to what my intentions are, but I’ve not had to hold the whole board report back from the board in order to get it ready for them.

Now, approvals. I’m going to click in and view the document. This will provide me with the opportunity to have a look at it, and the way that’s it’s laid out for the board. This is also where I can add any hyperlinks which is a navigation tool that the board can use to navigate their way through the document. On the left hand side here you’ll see all our documents are showing up in red. That means they’re not yet approved.

As I go through, have a look, make sure I’m happy with it, add my hyperlinks, I’ve got the operations report here. Create a quick link there to our operations report. Create that link. As I come in and have a look I can make sure that I’m happy with the layout of that document, and I’ll approve it. Once I’ve approved it that documents going to change from red to black. That way my colleagues when they log in, at a glance, can see what’s red is not just approved, what’s black is approved.

If you guys have a multi-tiered approval process we can actually add another layer in there so that you can change it from red to blue, and then from blue to black, as your final approval process. It allows you to be flexible with the approval processes that you run. Whether it goes through to the chairman, or whether it goes through to the CEO, or the managing director to approve.

For our purposes here today I’m going to come in and approve them and final the entire book. I obviously would’ve gone through and added my hyperlinks to all of those different documents, but we want to get this done. Close this one, change it from hidden to current, and our board pack is now ready to go.

I’ll come back into my iPad screen now. I’m going to refresh my document for any updates using my fingerprint ID on my iPad, I can log straight in. It’s checking for any updates and I can see that there’s our September 15 board meeting. The beauty of diligent is it keeps the documents light, so as they come through it’s not going to take 15 minutes for that to download. It’s going to be ready in an instant, and I can already start to navigate my way through the document.

Those folders and sub-folders that I set up are represented thusly. I’ve got my hyperlink from my operations report which will take me straight to it. If I’m a director, I want to make some annotations within this document, I simply click on my annotations tool, zoom into where I want to make my point, choose a pen colour, keep it simple, and I can make that note here. Say this is down on last year, why is that? Bookmark that document, zoom out, and I’m ready to go and start revising the rest of the document itself.

We’ve gone through a pretty straight forward approach to creating a pack. I’m not sure, Kate have we had any questions come through of particular issues that we’d like to have a look at? I’ve got a few other things that I’ve got time to do demonstrate, but it just depends on the time that we’ve got.

Kate: Yeah we’ve got a few questions coming through. I’m sure some of them might cover what you might want to cover yourself, so let’s have a look at them. Question here around cat, which type of documents can we upload? Such as [inaudible 00:20:05]

Patrick: Yeah, so basically we work with organisations of all different varieties, and obviously we work with local councils all over the country, we work with some very large councils like the city of Sydney, and then some smaller councils like the regional council for Ipswich and the city of Swan over in western Australia. Quite often their documents will have DA plans, approvals, various different formatting types, all of which are supported by our solution.

This document here is created from all of these different documents represented in this folder. I’ve got Excel’s, Powerpoint’s, and that all came through via the one bulk import process. It’s a very seamless way to work with multiple different platforms, and all of the documents that you need to bring through are supported thusly.

Kate: Thanks Patrick. Another one here is, how long before should directors receive their board papers.

Patrick: Yeah, so typically what our board packs are provided through the directors a week beforehand. Sometimes in not such a quick turnaround, because they may be holding back for those particular reports that they’re waiting for, which is the benefit of using that placeholder documentation process that we went through.

Another thing that often occurs for your board is that you might have changes to a document. Now, if I come in here and I’ve got my, oh where am I, I’ve got my … Operations. I’ve got the financials. Let’s use the global numbers report here. The original document looks like this. This is my original document. Now there’s been some changes to it. The changes are just to the numbers, so the note changes are just to Italy and Hong Kong.

What I’m able to do using our system is update that document for the board. I’m going to replace that document and I’m going to find it on my desktop. I’ve got my right revised Q2 regions performance. I’m going to use that, I’m going to mark it as a revised document, but retain my notes and annotations. Hypothetically, this documents been with the board for a week now.

It’s just before the meeting, we’ve had some changes to Italy and Hong Kong. I want to make sure that the board are kept abreast of the changes that we’ve made, because the layout of that document has remained the same, I can actually remove the original document, upload the new one, but I’m keeping the directors notes in place. I’m retaining the notes and annotations to make sure that our directors notes are not lost. The last thing we would want to do it remove our directors notes.

I’m uploading that document, the directors notes are sitting like a skin on the new document, and because the formatting of that document, the layout of the page, hasn’t changed I’m able to just slide that new document under their notes. If I was using a different document and the layout of the page had vastly changed, I would definitely not want to delete that document because I want to keep my directors notes. I want to add a new document and provide the same sort of note that gives them context. That way they can be, they can keep their notes and make sure that everything’s in the right place.

Here I’ve just got come through, that’s going to show up in red, so I’ve just got to change it to black so that it’s current. Then what I would do is I would email the board quickly and say look, please refresh your board pack, there’s been some changes, once you’ve refreshed it those changes will become apparent and they’ll be able to link straight through it, and see where they’re up to make sure that they’ve got the most current and up to date version of the document itself. Once again, we’re creating only one document and everybody has the same copy.

Kate: Great thanks.

Patrick: That process is represented here. I’m just going to check for any updates, and I can see that there’s updates available. Click on my circular arrow, check the history, I can see changes to Italy and Hong Kong, and it takes me straight to that page where my new document is.

Kate: Thanks Patrick. Got a few more questions here. Question’s come in around the length of board papers. Is it, is there, is it unlimited, or is it restricted?

Patrick: No, look we work with a variety of organisations all of who have board papers in different formats and different lengths. The amount of data that you store within Diligent is completely unrestricted. If we have a look here in the directors site, I’m going to click in here and have a look at the resources centre.

Now this is an area where, it’s particularly useful for organisations to provide documentation for the board that they are constantly sending out. Quite often the constitution or a glossary of terms will be included in every single board pack. What you can do within in Diligent is provide them with all the policies and procedures, the constitution, everything and anything the board might need to go about preparing for the meeting, in one place, really well laid out. You can select how you want these folders to be organised.

That way, the board of directors have them at their finger tips at any given time. If you needed to add those to a board pack, simply what you would do is come in here, create a hyperlink to the board, to one of those documents, I’ve got a policy update here. That has taken me to the code of ethics. I’ve updated a policy, I want to keep the board abreast of it, provide them with that hyperlink, and then they can link straight back to their board pack from that part of the document itself. The amount of data that you can keep in one board pack or in the environment itself is completely uncapped.

Kate: Thanks Patrick. The other question is actually in line with the resource centre that you just showed. Is can you put links through the resource centre?

Patrick: Yeah, and look you can actually provide links to any part of Diligent. You might want to provide a link to the calendar, or archive material. Your archive is there, you can dictate whether you want to have a clean archive available to that board, so it’s purged of all the notes or it retains an individuals directors notes. From a governance perspective that’s up to your organisation to choose, and we’ll help you build your environment thusly.

Another useful tool is the search function. You can search throughout any area of Diligent no matter what the formatting of the document that was provided to the board was. If they’re looking for press articles from back in previous years, they can look into those, if it was in Word, Excel, PDF, however it was prepared you can provide them with the search functionality to go about researching and preparing for the meeting in a really organised and simple fashion.

Kate: Thanks Patrick. That’s all the questions that I’ve got so far. Was there anything else you wanted to cover? Just before …

Patrick: Look I really just wanted to give everyone a bit of a heads up. Obviously we’ve really focused on the building of this pack today, but we will in our upcoming sessions be really focusing a little bit more on providing the board with a refreshed environment to prepare for their meetings. That will focus on the functionality from a boards perspective of everything and anything that they can do within this site.

This is what the board get, this is how they’ll got about actioning circular resolutions, all of those tools and functionality are what we’re going to cover next time round. Obviously we’re trying to fit a lot into 30 minutes today, and hopefully you’ve all been able to get a bit of a gist of, a bit of a taste of what’s possible. The other thing I’d stress is you know, we’re happy to run demonstrations for you all one on one.

Please reach out to us and we can cover any questions or particular areas of interest that you might have more specifically via a demonstration for yourselves and your fellow administration or company secretariat teams.

Kate: Thanks Patrick. We will be closing out, so Patrick will bring up some details about, so if you want to get in contact with either myself or Patrick, these will come up on screen shortly. Just thanks Patrick for sharing your insights, and before we close we’ll be sending out the recording to everybody. As mentioned by Patrick we will have our next webinar, it’s coming up on Tuesday 13th September. I’ll be looking at ways to spring clean the board and show you new functionalities within the platform you’ve seen today.

If you’d like to download it any further, white papers case studies, please do visit our website, and as Patrick mentioned earlier you can reach out for a one on one demonstration at any time. Thanks very much for taking your time out of your day to be with us. Thank you.