Working Hard or Hardly Working Is it Time to Upgrade Your Board Portal


Diligent host: Good morning everyone and thanks for taking the time to join today’s webinar with Diligent. For those of you that joined our webinar in late January where we showed you how you could build board meeting books in just a few short minutes, we hope you found it useful. Today’s webinar is a natural continuation of this where we will explore in more detail some of the more advanced features of the Diligent solution. I’m joined today by my colleague Nathan Birtle who heads up sales and business development here in EMEA. I work on the marketing team and I am responsible for UK and Ireland. Before we get started today, I have a couple of housekeeping notes. This webinar will last about 30 minutes. We are recording it and we are going to send a copy to everybody that registered within the next 24 hours so you are able to forward that along to any of your colleagues who are not able to join us today.

You can also feel free to ask us a question at any time. You can do so through the ask a question pane on the right hand side of your screen and at the end of the demonstration, we’ll answer as many questions as possible and anything we don’t have time for we’ll come back to you over email. Before we get started today, it would be interesting to know how you are currently distributing your board materials. I’m just going to open a quick poll so it would be grateful if you could all vote now. The options that you see here, documents are printed … Printed and distributed by courier. PDF documents are distributed via email. Dropbox, SharePoint, or other file sharing solutions. Custom developed or in-house tools or a board portal such as Diligent. I’m just going to give you a few more seconds to vote and last time that we run this poll about a month ago we saw that the large majority of people were using some PDF or email-based solutions.

Let me just close that out now. Let’s share the results here and indeed yes, it looks like those findings are also in-lined with previous polls and great to see 15% already using a board portal. Let me just hide that results now. With that, I would like to hand things over to Nathan who will get started with today’s presentation.

Nathan: Thank you. As you can see on the chart, the agenda we’re going to go through really looks some of the more advanced capabilities that people are using to communicate and work effectively on board meeting materials today. There’s not much in way of presentation. This is pretty much completely demonstration of the Diligent board portal system and how it helps people work more effectively as a result. Now, 70% I think it was the people are either distributing by paper or PDF and I think some of the things that we showed today will illustrate how a board portal technology can provide a better way to communicating than is currently the case. Typically the concerns that people have when working with paper are, it’s not very efficient for directors carrying around 200 to 300 page documents is not much fun. When any updates come to those documents, they’re painful to distribute and for the directors to work effectively.

When it comes to PDF distribution, the usability of that tends to be quite hard and also the security of the PDF document is not well-regarded. In fact, there is a very recent case with a senior director in the US, a security service who was hacked purely as a result of forwarding PDF documents to his own personal email. His personal email was hacked and therefore those PDF documents that contain sensitive data were made available to very broad audience and that caused a great deal of embarrassment for that company. Using a board portal allows you to be a great level of usability and a greater level of security. What we’ll do is look through a few of these areas in terms of collaboration. How you can work more effectively as a team with this technology. We’ll look at voting and signature collection, how that can be done in a more efficient way and again improve the productivity.

Questionnaires and surveys and then also the overall customer success of the system as well. That’s the agenda that we’ll follow. As I say, that’s pretty much as follows the presentation material is concerned. I’ll come out of this now. Okay, so instead of working on an iPad, we’re working in a Windows environment and what you see in front of me what a director’s view would look like of the board meeting materials that they’re working with. In the previous webinar, we showed how it was easy to create this board meeting materials in a matter of minutes and what we’ll do here is show how directors to work with that information more effectively. If I look at the Q1 2016 meeting here, all I’m going to do is tap on this and what it will do is open up the book for me and all I need to do to navigate my way through the book is just to swipe or tap on the right hand side and it moves me through page to page and I can go tap the other side and it will move me backwards.

It’s very easy to swipe my way through the book. Very easy to navigate my way through the overall structure. If I want to see an overall navigation of how the system and how the book looks like, I’ll just tap here on the top left and what it shows me is a structure of the book itself so I can see the different tabs and within it the different subsections within those tabs. It’s a very simple way to navigate through and as you may have remembered if anyone who attended the last webinar, although this looks like one book of 143 pages as far as the directory is concerned, it’s just a single book. What goes up to make this could consist of 40, 50 different folders or different files varying formats, PDF, Microsoft Office formats, graphics files, et cetera. As far as the directory is concerned, I’m seeing one nicely presented book categorized and broken down into sections that make sense for me.

As I look at this, typically the next thing the director would want to do is read through it to make annotations. If I look for example at a particular book here and I’m looking at some financial results. If I want to annotate this, I can highlight certain sections so I can highlight there. I can use a pen to a different options. Green pen here, circle it round. If I wanted to, I can even add a sticky note and type in some test to text for example. Save that. I can drag that note to wherever that is appropriate for that information to be reflected. Very easy for me to highlight things and comments, et cetera. If I go back to this book, one of the other things that you’ll notice is if updates are made available, it’s very clear to me as a director and if I just synchronize here and ask me to enter my password for security purposes and now what it will do is download any updates for that book.

Now, since I’ve last been working on this as you can see that happened very quickly, there are five pages worth of updates that have happened. Now, one of the nice things about the system and the more advanced system such as this is that typically if you have 200 page PDF document and you’ll need to update a few pages, you’ll have to download the whole 200 pages again. Often, one of the biggest problems with directors is annotations can get lost in that process. Two benefits here working with the more advanced system. Firstly, you need to download the pages that have changed and secondly, you only need to, you’re guaranteed that you won’t lose any of the director’s annotations. With this update, there’s also helpful hint here to show the director where the history is actually changed on the document. I’ll just tap on that and it tells me that this new financial information and to review that as a priority.

Rather than have to go into the start of the book and trying to find out where that information is, I just tap here and what it will do is take me directly through to that information that is being updated. You can see that I’ve got a very helpful way. I’ve been able to get through to the information that makes a difference to me. Now, if I want to start, that’s a pretty standard director working on their own. I can get greater advancements when it comes to working with the information and report my annotations, et cetera. If however I wanted to be a little bit more sophisticated and add a note or share a note, then what I can do here is just say these numbers correct and I can choose to keep it private to myself. If I want to share it with some colleagues though, I can say I can share that with some select viewers. Here are the other people in my organization, in my board who access in this particular committee that I can show the information and share that comment.

In this case, I’m going to share it with Joe and with Sarah and say, okay. This gave me a warning that his note will now be visible to those two people which is exactly what I want so I’ll say okay and now I’ll share the note with them and I can drag this note over to the appropriate place. As I review this or as I work further on my document, that note will now be sent out to Joe and to Sarah. They can review it and what we’ll see as we look at the note I’ve shared with two people and as people work on this, they can add their own comments and what we start to do is set up a thread of the communication between everyone. Basically, here we go. Fortunately, my colleague Joe is actually working on the system at the moment and is coming back and said, these numbers look correct to me.

I’ll say, okay sounds good but what was the source of this? Share that again and as you can see around one particular component within the book, we have a thread of the communication going on that enables us to be better prepared for the meeting ahead. Now, this could be used to communicate in advance of the meeting around particular topic as we are now. It could be used between a subset of users to make sure that the board meeting materials are exactly right and appearing in the way that we wish prior to the meeting minutes being distributed to a broader audience. You can have a number of these different threads going on across the document at the appropriate place. You really do get a chance to have some sensible discussions that around some specific topics such that when the board meeting starts, you know you’re going to be as best prepared as possible.

You see that Joe has come back and just told me the source was the original sales report and that might make me happy and so I can say, okay, I’ll close up that thread now and we can move forward as a result, okay. One of the other things that we’re able to do as a result of more advanced technology within the board portal is to do more sophisticated searching so for example I’ll search on a particular term here the word Sodi. What it will do is come back and just show me anywhere within not only this book but if I choose to set it up the archive books and the resource center that we have available where that term appears. It will search both online and offline for the material and to show me the results in context and it will highlight where that information appears. That stuff that’s very, very helpful when it comes to being able to identify information that may have occurred either in this meeting or in previous meetings.

One of the things that we do with the technology here as well is any previous board meetings or executive meetings that are archived, we archive online with our central server. That allows faster performance as well as availability of data as you needed. Unlike other systems or unlike using standard paper or PDF gives you much better performance and much greater usability when it comes to searching for terms that you may need across a variety of documents. Couple of other thing that I can show you that people find helpful when it comes to working with the content of the books. Firstly, our calendar so if I click on the calendar items here, what it will do is show me upcoming meetings and so for example in February and March you can see that I have different meetings color coded according to the type meeting that’s taking place. We have executive, audit, remuneration committee meetings as well as board meetings itself.

If I click on the board meeting item then what you’ll see here is the information you’d expect to see around date and time. I can provide maps of where the meeting is taking place. I can also provide the link directly through to the board book that is appropriate for that particular meeting. One of the nice things about this is as an administrator, I can control centrally the diaries of all people participating in the board meetings and I can allow that to be synchronized with their outlook so we can set up the meetings for a year, two years in advance. We can put in place all the logistical information around those meetings and we can also add a link directly to take you to the board meeting book that people will be working with during those meetings. Again, simplifies the whole process. Make sure that everyone understands and has complete information around when the meeting will be and also has a direct link to the contents of that meeting.

People find that to be very helpful and provide the right level of control for managing these, the diaries of the executives here. What I’ll do now is before we look at the next aspect of some of the more advanced technologies here around questionnaires and around voting, what I’ll suggest we do is do the second poll that we have. I think there are three polls in total so I’ll ask probably to switch to the vote and if you vote now, we’re interested in seeing how organizations use broad voting or surveys electronically today. If you could vote on one of these following options. You see, yes we use voting and surveys electronically so both of those. Either voting only or surveys only being done electronically needed or maybe voting and surveys are not applicable to the organization or your board. We’ll continue now to gather the results. I see they’re coming in and then we’ll close the poll in a second and show everyone what the results are.

I think we pretty much everyone has voted at this time. What we see here is that actually some interesting split. Some organizations using both voting and surveys electronically 20% there then over half say using neither or not applicable to the board and then the few are using either voting or surveys one way or the other. If we consider the results of the first survey where majority of people would be using paper or PDF then I suppose it’s not surprising and that’s neither or not applicable in 55% of the cases because the technology just isn’t there to support that. However, if it is there to support it then using voting is very helpful and questionnaires can be very helpful and productive for an organization. Let me show briefly how we can do that. What I’ll do is go back to the board meeting books and I can see for example in this meeting that I’m looking at here, I’ve got some voting in place. There are two action items that require votes or two areas that require votes on this document. One is around action items and one is around written consent.

If I look at the written consent vote for a moment, it takes me through to a page here where I can see a voting form and there are three people who are due to vote on this issue; myself, my colleague Joe, and Gale. All I need to do now to cast my vote is just to tap the point where the green tick is here. If I tap here, I have a choice to either vote for, vote against, or abstain. If I choose at this point to vote for, then it ask me for confirmation and once I provide that, my signature is added and there is a date and time stamp of when that vote took place. Now, it just so happened that at the same time that I was looking at this form and voting, my colleague Joe was also doing the same thing and they cast their vote pretty much at the same time which is exactly as we had it planned for this demonstration as you might expect.

What it does show is that in real time, you can see who is voting, who is yet to vote on a particular issue. When they do vote, the signature assuming they vote in favor then their signature images captured, time stamp is applied alongside it and so I can now see the two of the three votes that have been cast and captured around that. It’s not just things like voting for a written consent or for approval of minutes. These are things that provide real time saving if you don’t need to do them in a meeting itself, you can do those votes ahead of the meeting and allow timing in the meeting to be used for maybe more strategic discussions about the organization’s direction and things like that. One of the other areas that you can use voting or signature capture on, things such as attendance registers. People to sign that they attended the meeting or a post set to sign that all the following people were attending that meeting.

This is something that people find helpful. There we go. When the screen catches up, you’ll see that there’s a list of action items so my action item from the last meeting was to review operations. I had a deadline on the 31st of March and if I now say, okay, that action is being completed I can just tick the box here and I can vote to say, yeah. I’ve done that. Again it asked my confirmation and just as before once I confirmed that, that is being done it will update the signature and it looks like my colleague Joe is stalking me because just as I completed my action item, Joe has completed their action item too. You can see in real time these votes can be used in a variety of ways and what we find is it really helps speed up some of the more mundane items ahead of the real meeting and some of the more tick box items and also can be used for some of these such as action items or attendance registers that people struggle to automate and would find very helpful in general.

One of the thing that we will look at on the enhance features here is also use of things such as questionnaires. One item that typically needs to be done annually and outsource once every three years these things such as board effectiveness surveys. If I come out to the main panel again and I look here at the questionnaires, this is a way to enable me to survey board members and executive teams about different aspects of business. I have two surveys ongoing here, a business travel survey and also board effectiveness survey. If I choose to start this board effectiveness survey, now as a board member I get a chance to complete questionnaire. That’s the brief introduction. This is the annual board effectiveness survey. I’ll tap on next page and it just takes me through the different options as to what I’ll be asked typically about board meetings. Is the annual number of board meeting is appropriate? This guys all say about right so I just tap on number three and it’s savings these automatically as I go through so as user, I’m not worried about how to save it or losing any changes that I make.

I can add comments if I wish. I can show you one other example here that’s quite interesting which is you can have contingent results so for example on question seven, if I say how would you rate the board user experience as directors? I think it’s poor. Then it brings up a further question asking me to choose a specific reason why I replied poor to that question and I can carry on and complete that survey either now or later and also as an administrator, I can see how far people are through a survey so that if we need to rely on people to complete stuff or we know that they’re very close to doing it then so a reminder is necessarily appropriate than we have complete control over that as well. I can say, let’s just save and finish that later. It enables me very quickly, effectively in one place so this is the opinion of board executive members of that different aspects of the business and as an administrator, it gives me results that are up to date and consistent and showed me the progress that people are making on those surveys.

Those were a few items that we wished to touch on when it look at some of the more advanced features that people are using to turn what would typically just the way of communicating information to a more collaborative and rich experience for directors. If we go back now to the agenda, what we reviewed here are some of the collaboration features such as annotations, search, calendar, and contacts, and the enhance features such as voting around resolutions, action items, consents, and also the questionnaires, and how we can simply make life simpler by soliciting opinion on the items that matter for the organization. One of the things we often get asked is, okay the technology is great but how can we make sure that it’s a successful project? A system such as this goes in front of a very high profile group in a company and you want to make sure that it’s delivered in a successful way.

In order to do that, we have a dedicated customer service team where an account manager is assigned to someone as soon as the project has started and we work with you to ensure that the system is set up with the appropriate roles, permissions, and the facilities such as those that we’ve shown just now is set up in a way that makes it most effective for directors to work. We have support in alongside that, that’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The reason that’s important is that directors typically are looking at this information at any time day or night, travel schedule mean that while we’re maybe asleep in the UK, we may be able to try to sign in and get there, latest board meeting information across the other side of the world somewhere.

The most common issue with directors is not remembering passwords or having some connectivity issue with their iPad or tablet device and in that case, our service team is always there to help them and it’s always a Diligent person that answers and as you can see here 98% of issues are resolved by the person taking the call. We find that it’s not just a technology issue that making sure that directors have an effective system. It’s also a service issue to make sure that the structure around that is set up in a way that allows you to rest assure that the service being provided is really best in class. On our website, there is a link. You can see the address at the bottom that just point to some real life comments that customer say about the service that they experience using board portal and Diligent in particular. I won’t label the point now but we’re obviously very proud of that and would welcome anyone to … We’re obviously happy to discuss any aspect of this and more detail offline.

One very quick word about Diligent as an organization. We’ve been providing board portal technology for the last 15 years or so. We have offices worldwide in 12 different locations. Our data centers are also worldwide and for our European customers, our data centers is in Germany with a backup also in Germany there in Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. I appreciate on the webinar, it’s taking a little bit of time for the slide to catch up but I’ll just continue the brief introduction of diligent while we carry on. We have over 3500 companies over 100,000 board members worldwide to use our service. One of the things that we’re most proud of is that our retention rates globally are over 97%. We provide our service and what’s known as software as a service or in other words at the end of each year, customers can elect to either stay with us or to move on to another way of providing the board portal technology if they wish.

We’re delighted to say that over 97% of customers do stay with us and continue to work with Diligent and those retention rates are really are world class so we’re very proud of that fact. I see the slide just caught up just as I finished talking about it so apologies for the slight delay there but that’s really all I want to say about the company in general and hopefully the demonstration of what we discussed today has open up a few ideas as to how organizations are using some of these more recent features to provide greater usability, security, and efficiency within the board members. At that point I will stop. Do we have any questions?

Diligent host: Yes. As we just got time for one question because we are running slightly behind. A couple of people have asked this question and it’s regard, with regards to voting. How do you actually get a signature of the director in the system? Is that something that’s easy to do?

Nathan: Yes, it is very easy actually and if we had good connectivity, I could actually show you in reality. Let me just see if that comes back to us. No, I don’t think it has. Okay, fine. We’ll leave it as it is but yes essentially, the director is able to capture the signature themselves so as part of the context application within the board portal, a director can go and edit their own signature. They can sign on the screen, capture the signature that way, and then that’s the signature that’s associated with them at the point in which they voted as I showed you in the demonstration.

Diligent host: Fantastic. Thank you Nathan. As I said, we will come back to each and every one of you that have sent us questions through. Before we let you all go today, we would be keen to learn which are the features that Nathan discussed would be most useful to your board. I’m just going to open the final poll and you can see here I’ve listed out all of the things that Nathan has talked through. We have obviously the basic capabilities of the system, any of the collaboration features, surveys and questionnaires, electronic vote voting, and the support function that we offer. Let’s just wait a few minutes, sorry, a few seconds for some more votes to come in. I think we’re just about done. Let me close there and share the results with you. Interesting, so it seems that the large majority of our audience are interested in the basic navigation of the system and the collaboration feature such as Sticky Notes so that’s very interesting.

Let me just close that up. That does bring us to the end of today’s session. Please feel free to follow up with either myself or Nathan directly. I believe our, me and Nathan’s contact details were on the slide before and we’ll obviously send that out to you. You can also visit our website, www.diligent.com for more information and you can also sign up to our next webinar in the webinar series and that one is on April 6th on the subject of cyber security and how you can protect your board. I will send out a link to register for that one in the email that you’ll receive along with the recording. Thank you very much for joining today. We apologize for the slight technical issues that you experience. We hope it didn’t detract from the topics that we raised today but thank you very much and have a great day. Bye-bye.

  • Some of the things that we showed today will illustrate how a board portal technology can provide a better way to communicating than is currently the case.
  • Nathan Birtle

    VP of Sales, EMEA, Sales

    Typically the concerns that people have when working with paper are, it's not very efficient for directors carrying around 200 to 300 page documents is not much fun.