Spring Clean Your Board: Make 2016 the Year You Go Digital
Diligent host: Good morning, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to join today’s webinar with Diligent. The subject of today’s webinar is Spring Clean Your Board: Make 2016 the Year You Go Digital. I’m part of the marketing team here at Diligent. Today I’m joined by my colleague, Nathan Birtle, who heads up our sales and business development team here in EMEA. Before we get started today, I have a couple of housekeeping notes. This webinar will last about 30 minutes long. We will provide a replay to everyone within the next 24 hours.
If you’d like to ask questions at any time during the webinar, you’re welcome to do so. You can just send a question through the Ask a Question panel on the right-hand side of your screen. At the end of today’s demonstration, we’ll answer as many questions as we can, and anything that we don’t get to we’ll come back to you over email. Finally, we will have a couple of polls that we would very much appreciate if you could participate in. With that, I’m going to hand you over to Nathan.
Nathan: Thank you. The agenda, as you can see on the screen in front of you, for today’s session is pretty straightforward. We’re going to talk through a typical process that an administrator would need to go through to prepare board meeting materials or meeting materials for senior executive staff, look at the different options that people take for that to do that process today, and conduct a brief poll just to see the people on the webinar today, how they currently do this process. Then we’ll show highlights of what a board portal solution can provide and some of the benefits of that.
The vast majority of the session today will be a demonstration of the Diligent solution that gives you an indication of how simple it can be to create the information to begin with, distribute it to directors where they can view it effectively on iPad or other tablet device, and also cater to things such as last minute updates that frequently happen in this environment. That’s what we’ll go through during the next 25 minutes or so. To begin with, we’ll look at the typical process that both an administrator and a director would use to create and to work with the information.
From an administrator perspective, a board book could typically be 200, 300 pages and sometimes even more than that. That’s created from a number of different files, maybe 25, 30 files from different parts of the organisation. As you see on the left-hand side here, could be from all the parts of the business such as marketing, finance, sales, and IT. Often the administrator will receive those documents in a variety of formats. Microsoft Office is one of the most popular, be it Excel, Word, PowerPoint, et cetera, but it could be PDFs, others formats such as graphic files, et cetera.
The administrator then has to take that information and convert it into, ideally, a single book of information that a director can then work with, but on top of that there are other documents and deliverables that need to passed on such as minutes, compliance information, finance updates, so on and so forth. It’s quite a labourious and can be quite a labourious job for an administrator to do that. When you consider the number of meetings that may be required to be supported, both main board meetings plus committee meetings, that can be 15, 20, 30 meetings a year that you need to follow this process for.
From the director’s perspective then, it’s relatively straightforward. The director really just wants to receive the information in a format that’s convenient, be able to review, make comments and annotations on the material that’s been given, perhaps some share notes with other members of the board or maybe the administrator as well, and ideally be able to do some more productive functions outside of the board meetings themselves, such as maybe vote on resolutions such as approval of previous minutes or other resolutions that may be passed through between board meetings themselves. From a director’s point of view, typically travelling a lot, want to get the information in a fast, efficient way, and if there any last minute updates, as tends to be the case, get those effectively and work with them as efficiently as possible. That’s what we see.
Now we’re going to conduct just the one poll today, and we will open the poll up now. We’re really interested in how people are currently creating these documents and distributing them for their board or their senior executive team. The options on the poll you can see in front of you, so please go ahead and vote now, but typically we see people either printing and distributing the information by courier, so paper documents that get sent out that way. Some people convert the information into PDF or Word files and send them via e-mail to directors both inside and outside the organisation. A third option is to use a solution such as Dropbox or SharePoint or other file sharing solutions. Some people would have a custom or in-house developed tool. Finally, some people are moving in greater and greater numbers to board portal solutions such as Diligent.
We’ll pause now and see the results, and as is not uncommon actually with the previous runnings of the sort of webinar that we’ve done, the majority of people are using PDF or e-mail. Quite a few people with print, and some people moving to board portals. Very few. None on call today have an in-house developed solution. That’s pretty much in line with what we would expect to see. As we go back to the presentation, then we’ll highlight a few of the issues that people see with some of the solutions outside of those from a board portal. If you’re distributing your information by print and courier, that can typically be a fairly time-consuming process.
Anyone who’s gone through the multiple photocopying, laying out these documents on a board room table, trying to get all the changes in at the last minute, and then sending them out, knows the huge time and inefficiencies that are created just by creating the packs in the first place. As a director, receiving those packs is not often the most convenient way to carry the information around and certainly not the most convenient way to get updates on that. If you’re sending information by PDF or Word, then one of the big issues that people are very concerned about today is the fact that you lose control of a document as soon as you e-mail it as an attachment, and then you have no means of knowing where it’s passed on to from there, you have no means of retiring the information in a sensible and compliant way after the meeting’s over. Also reviewing information in a large PDF document is not the nicest way to view the information itself.
A few people are using Dropbox or SharePoint. The typical reason we see people not liking that solution is just the usability. For board meeting members, very difficult tool. Not as intuitive to use as they would really like to see, and there are often some access or security issues that can be involved there, too. I won’t focus very much on the custom and in-house solution because there’s no one on the call using that. Suffice it to say that often these are very difficult to support. Directors travelling internationally expect proper full 24/7/365 support if they’re having issues with connectivity or downloading new updates, and that’s something that often organisations find difficult to provide with a custom solution.
Let’s move on to board portals. What is a board portal? As we see, we have some people in attendance today who currently use a board portal, hopefully Diligent, but the basic idea behind a portal is to provide a system that enables the effective exchange and secure exchange of the documents that matter. It’s a way to collaborate, securely pull the information together, and distribute it to the different board members, enabling them to access the information in the most efficient way, which typically these days is via a tablet such as an iPad, or a laptop, or other tablet device, so basically electronic device.
Makes it easier to communicate the information, and with the technology we have, as we’ll see in the demonstration, very easy to review, annotate, and collaborate with that information as well. The final point here is it’s hugely important to make sure that sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The sort of material that we’re working with is typically highly confidential, typically to do with the strategy and the direction of an organisation, and therefore it’s highly important that there’s control on that information all the way from the creation, to the review, to the meeting, to the retirement of the information.
In other webinars in this series, we spent a little bit of time talking about cybersecurity and the board leading from the front. If people are interested in reviewing that, then those are available online, and we are running other aspects of that in future webinars as well. The security and making sure that the information is within the organisation and controlled very, very high level of detail, is becoming more and more important. This is something that a board portal does provide. Okay, so that’s enough by the way of introduction. What I’d like to do is show you a demonstration of how this thing works in practice so you can see how simple it can be to work with board portal.
We’ll show this from 2 aspects. Firstly, I will show you what an administrator would see and how easy it is to create a book with the solution such as Diligent. What you see now on your screen is the administration panel that an administrator would use when it comes to creating or updating a book. Today we’ll show how simple it is to create a book from scratch, so we’ll do it literally in a couple of minutes while we’re logged here on the system. As I mentioned before, normally what would happen is administrators would collect documents from various parts of the organisation, can be 20 or 30 documents that go to create up one board book, and organise those before they create the material for the meeting itself.
Now what we see here, I’ll just quickly open up a File Explorer window, and what you can see is a demonstration book file that I’ve created for the purposes of this webinar. If I go into that file, you’ll see there are a number of subfolders and some for the agenda, the different sections of the board meeting itself, so we’ve got sales update, finance update, et cetera. If I double click on one of those, you can see I’ve got an Excel file and a Word document here on the sales side. I’ve got a PDF and a Word document. Hopefully you can see those different file formats.
Now if I want to create a new book, then all I need to do is to go into the administration panel here, right click, and select create a book from scratch. Now what it asked me to do is choose a title for this book, so I’ll call it July Board Meeting, select OK, and what it does is open up a panel here that enables me to start to build the structure of the book. Now the old-fashioned way of doing this would be to start adding tabs and building the structure by hand, so set up a tab for agenda, a tab for sales update, et cetera, et cetera, but with the recent updates from Diligent, with our solution what we’re able to do is just take that book that we’d previously prepared, the book folder with all its subfolders and files, and just simply drag it and drop it onto the create book panel there.
What it does is bring up a simple screen that asks me how I want to set up this book. Do I want one tab per folder, which is how it’s selected at the moment, or one tab per file, and I can choose to number or non-number them. For the purposes of this demonstration, I’ll just use the options as selected, and all I did now is select import. What you’ll see happen … I’ll just move this into halfway. What you see happen is that the progress bar here indicates how those individual documents that are part of those folders and subfolders are being uploaded into our secure data centre in Germany.
What we’re doing is taking each of those documents, we’re encrypting them, and transmitting them in highly encrypted fashion to our data centre in Germany, and there we’re storing copies of those documents and creating a single book of information that will be distributed to the directors from those multiple files that made up those different folders and subfolders. As I scroll down here on this panel, you’ll see that the tabs are being set up as requested, and the different documents that were in those subfolders are now being stitched together to create one single book of information under each of those subtabs.
As I go down here, the other thing you’ll notice is that files, as they’re being uploaded, are highlighted in red. This allows us to indicate whether the information that has just been uploaded, whether it’s been approved or made final. We have a workflow that I’ll show in a minute that allows us to control, at a very high degree of detail, the process whereby these things are approved before they’re distributed to the directors. You can see in a matter of moments the upload has now been completed. I have all of these files up in our data centre in Germany, and they’re all in a red state, which means they are uploaded but not approved yet.
If I click here, I can go and look at what this book looks like in its preview state, and it will show me on the laptop. The first page that will come up will be the agenda that you see here, and on the left-hand side we see the other sections within the book itself. It’s currently in a not approved state. Now according to the workflow that you have in place, whether you need to approve the information or whether, as is often the case, the information is pre-approved before it comes to the administration side, you can either have a one-stage or a two-stage approval process.
For the purposes of simplicity in this demonstration, we’ll just show a quick one-stage approval process where I can just select, and I know that all of the information that’s been sent through to me prior to this is good, so I can approve the entire book. Having done that, what it will now do is go through and set each of these items to black colour to indicate that it’s approved and final, and so now it’s ready to be distributed to our board of directors. One final step that’s needed before that is to change the status of the book. You see here it’s hidden. By clicking here, I can now change the status and publish the book online.
I can make it what’s known as a current book, which means it’s viewable to the directors, and I can be a little bit more sophisticated as to how I wish to send that out if I wish. I can, for example, allow it only to go to a certain subset of the directors or to be held back from 1 or 2 of the directors if it were appropriate to do that. For the purposes of this demonstration, we’ll just use our normal group security, and it will go to all the directors who are part of the main board. Having done that, I just select OK, and the book is now current, and it will be available to view for any director. It’s as simple as that to create a book in the first place from an administration screen.
As an administrator now, I’ve done my work. I can e-mail or use the new Diligent option, a thing called Diligent Messenger, to securely message our board of directors to let them know that the material is now available. As a director, I would go to my iPad and download it. Let’s look at what it’s like from a director’s view. What you see on the screen now is a utility called AirServer. This allows us to beam an iPad that I have in front of me and show the display in this window so that it’s easy to view on a webinar. Right now I have a regular iPad in front of me that has the Diligent app download into it, and I’ve signed in as a director on the same board as the administrator who’s just created that book.
Now to see if there’s any new information, all I do is tap here and I can check for updates. What it will do is check the server in Germany, check for any updates, and it will come back and show me any changes that have happened to the existing books or any new books that have been downloaded. A slight connectivity issue here at the moment, as you can see. You can tell this is a real life demo because this is actually generating a issue there. Okay, we’re going to go to our fallback position, which unfortunately we won’t be able to show it to you on the iPad because the AirServer has stopped working on us, but one of the advantages of the Diligent solution is that it’s available on a variety of tablet devices.
We were going to show on the iPad, but what I also have loaded up on the Windows device here is the Diligent Boards app for Windows Surface, so we’ll show that instead. I’ll just sign into this. This SalesNB2 you may have noticed was a site that we were looking at previously. What I have now is this series of books that are available to me as a director on the main board, and these 3 books, the Q2, the March, and the April book were all there previously, but what I have available to me now as a director is the July Board Meeting book that we just created and uploaded. If I wish to download that, all I need to do is click on the icon there, and what it’s doing is synchronising that book automatically.
That was a fairly small book, 17 pages, I think, you saw there, and I was able to download that in a matter of seconds. In order to go and review the book and see the information inside it, all I do is tap on this icon here, and what it does is bring the book in front of me. The first page of the book was the agenda, and all I need to do to read the book, just like any other normal book, is just swipe from left to right to go from page to page or back the other way. It’s just like reading a normal book. Very, very straightforward. If I wish to zoom in, I can just use the normal finger motion, 2 fingers to zoom in or out.
If I wish to see the structure of the book with a single view, I can tap on this navigation icon. What it shows me is the agenda and the different tabs that we’d set up that were previously different subfolders in the desktop of the administrator previously. That’s all available to me. Typically what a director would like to be able to do, in our experience, is firstly get at the information easily. You can see that from the simple download that I did on the tablet here, very simple to get the information through. The next thing a director wants to be able to do is to navigate effectively through the information because, as I say, these books can be several hundred pages.
Using the tab structure here, I can work my way to financial reports, sales updates. Very quick, very simple to find my way around the document. As you can see, it looks like one nicely prepared, beautifully laid out book as opposed to 20 or 30 individual files which are not very convenient for a director to review. It’s also much easier to navigate than one very bulky single PDF file. The next thing a director might want to do is make some annotations and make some comments on the document. If I click on the financial report section here, I might want to highlight some sections, and I have options for the different colours that I choose. Let’s choose that nice blue colour, and then all I have to do is just use my finger to highlight the sections that are interesting to me.
If I want to use the pen, then I have that option where I can write some text in, but as you can see, my handwriting is appalling, for which I apologise. If you want to write some more detailed information, what you might want to do is just click on the sticky note, and that gives you a chance to put some more detailed comments in. Having done that, I can select and drag that note to wherever is most appropriate for that comment. If you open it up again, I’ve made this sticky note, and at the moment I’ve kept it private to myself, so this note will only be visible by myself, including the spelling mistake on against. Apologies for that.
If I wanted to share it with other people, then all I have to do is click here, and I can make the note public to everyone, or I could share it with a few select viewers. In this case, I might want to share it with Joe and Alex, say OK. It’s given me a warning. I’m going to share it just with those 2, so I’ll say OK to that. Now that note is shared, and you can see there’s multiple people on that icon to show that this is a shared note. Joe or Alex, when they sign into the system, would see this as a blue sticky note, and they would be able to go in, add their own updates, and we can have a thread of discussion around that particular point when it comes to this particular discussion topic. Very easy way to make annotations, to collaborate, and work more effectively.
Now if we look at another … That’s a very simple example of how we can download a book, annotate it, navigate our way through as the director, and it makes the process a whole lot simpler than what otherwise be the case. We’ve enhanced the solution recently with some other functions such as being able to vote on an issue. If there are resolutions such as previous meeting minutes or other resolutions that you wish people to vote on in between meetings to make the actual meeting time more productive, then as you can see here, we’ve got a vote in progress, and there are some votes that require my signature.
I can see which items require my signature. I can just go to the signature page for one of these, and this is a very simple voting form. I tap here to cast my vote, and I vote for, vote against, or abstain. In this case I choose to vote for this resolution. I have to confirm that, and what it’ll do is attach my signature along with a time stamp of when I voted for this particular resolution on that form. The administrator is updated all the time as to the status of the votes, who’s voted, who hasn’t, how many votes are needed for a resolution to pass, et cetera, et cetera. It makes the whole thing a whole lot simpler.
There are lots of other aspects of the director’s view that have been enhanced recently and more coming. I’ve mentioned that we’ve just announced a new service called Diligent Messenger for secure text-like communication between directors. When you want greater security than things like iMessage, then Diligent Messenger is a great solution for that. There are other aspects of the board solution such as the way we view archived books, resource centre of the information that directors at all time, calendars, questionnaires, et cetera, that we really don’t have time to show on the meeting today, but we do have other webinars in this series. The next one will be on the 27th of July, so if you’d like to enroll for that one, this is a session where we’ll go into some of the more detailed and more advanced features that are a advantage to a director.
Put that one in your diary if that would be of interest. Before I wrap up the demonstration, there’s one other thing I’d like to show quickly, which is the situation that pretty much always occurs in this sort of environment, which is the meeting papers don’t always arrive on time. I was having lunch with an administrator a few weeks ago, and she has to create meeting materials for 18 meetings a year. She’d been doing this for 3 or 4 years, and I asked her how many times for one of those meetings all of the documentation had arrived on time one week in advance of the meeting itself. She just laughed at me, and she said, “Nathan, that is not what ever happens. We always have something that arrives late.”
Let me show you how we cater for that situation. I’ll go back to the administration panel, and very quickly we’ll take the July Board Meeting book that we just created, we will edit that, and we’ll add a new financial section in. We’ll put it just in the first page of the financial report tab. I’ve got a new financial Excel file here, and it’s got some updated Excel with the financial comments in it. All I do is select that, drag it over, and I can either replace a file, or I can make an additional page or 2 in this document, which is what I’ll do here. What I’ll also do is mark it as new, so that brings the director’s attention to the fact that this is an update. I’ll say review update, and I will upload that.
Now we’ll go through the same process that we did previously. In other words, we will take the document, encrypt it, send it to our data centre in Germany. At that time, it will be added into the document and created as new pages in the document, and that’s already happened. You see the new financials here. Now I click on the view again to see that in context in the document, and what it will do is show me that new page. I’ve highlighted with red here that this is a new update, and as is before, I can approve final that version of the document.
Now I’ve approved it. This file has gone black, which shows that that’s now approved and finalised. If I move to the director’s view of the world, and I check for any updates, you’ll see it shows me there’s an update available. Again, just as before, if I want to synchronise that, I just click there and in a matter of seconds it synchronised it because it only downloaded the pages that have changed. Now if you’re a director travelling at an airport or trying to make a connection, and you’ve got 2 or 3 pages to update, you really don’t want to be sitting there waiting for 2 or 300 pages to download and get the whole book again.
As a director, I can now just click on the update icon there. It tells me what’s been updated with the administrator comment we just made, and I can tap on that, and I’m now working with the updated information directly. Okay, so that’s all I really wanted to show by way of demonstration. We decided to do it on the Windows Surface rather than the iPad there for connectivity reasons, but the functionality is exactly the same. As a director, if I work with both the iPad and a Windows device, any annotations I make would be synchronised between the 2, so if I’m travelling and working with an iPad and I get back to my desk and I’m working with a Windows device, then I’ve got complete consistency with the way that I review the information.
In summary, the board portals will help through improved overall corporate governance. Hopefully you can see that the process is very tight. The information is always under a company’s control. You minimise any risk of losing information. You give immediate access to the information for those people who need it wherever they are in the world. We know that our directors do travel and are working odd hours to collect the information and work on it. The meeting material is secure at all times, and it’s effectively retired after the meeting has ended. As you saw briefly in the example, we can promote good collaboration across board members, setting up communication threads on topics within the board meeting materials themselves.
Very briefly on Diligent, because I appreciate we’re slightly overrunning, but Diligent has been in business doing and providing board governance solutions since 2001. We’re a worldwide organisation. We have over 4,000 companies who work with us supported from our 5 international data centres in Europe, Middle East, Africa, U.S., and Canada. We now have over 140,000 board members using our service, and our client retention rate, if you exclude unavoidable losses due to mergers and acquisitions, et cetera, is over 99%. We provide a service where people at the end of each year can choose to stay using our service or to go elsewhere. We’re really pleased with the fact that most of our clients choose to stay with us and continue working with us.
We have organisations of all sizes. From large organisations, global companies, to charities, to small companies, they all achieve the same benefits, they all have the same security requirements. In fact, recently we’re delighted to say that the Nelson Mandela Foundation has signed to use Diligent for the communication of their board meeting materials as well. That’s all I had for the topic. Thank you very much for your attention. I’ll hand over to you to see if there are any questions.
Diligent host: We have had several questions come through, but in the interest of time, I think we’ll reply to those questions on an individual basis. I am keen to wrap up. As a last step, as Nathan mentioned, we do have another webinar coming up on the 27th of July. The subject of that one is More Than Just Digital Board Portals. If you would like to sign up for that webinar, I will send out a link along with the recording of today’s session, and you’ll be able to sign up very quickly and easily to that one.
If you would like any more information about Diligent, if we’d just move just on to the final slide of today, you can visit www.diligent.com, and there you will see a whole host of resources from white papers, case studies, and other success stories. There is also the option to schedule a demonstration. As I said, I will send out a copy of today’s recording, and that will be with you within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, all that’s left for me to say is thank you and goodbye. Have a lovely day, everyone. Thanks. Bye bye.