Working Hard or Hardly Working: Time to Upgrade Your Board Portal?

Meghan: Good afternoon, and thanks for taking the time to join today’s webinar with Diligent, where we will discuss if it’s time for you and your organization to upgrade its board portal.

My name is Meghan Day, and I’m part of the marketing team here at Diligent. I’m joined today by my colleague, Richard Harrison. Richard has been with Diligent for more than five years and has helped hundreds of corporate admin, legal, and IT teams streamline their board meeting prep process and increase security.

So as technology has improved in the last few years, so has board portals, which are now really a very versatile platform. Today, Richard will give you an overview of some of the features found in Diligent boards that make us the most widely used board portal, with over 100,000 users on all seven continents. This includes questionnaires, electronic voting, and some unique collaboration tools.

So Richard will also be speaking about how training and implementation matter when using any new technology. So, before we get started today, out of curiosity, we’d be interested to know how you are currently distributing board meeting materials. You should see a poll open on your screen.

So it looks like, let me close the poll here, about 38% are using a vendor board portal. Another 25% are primarily emailing with some paper, and a mix then between some type of internal solution, or sticking with good old paper. We understand how that works. That’s for sure.

So now, with that, I’d like to hand things over to Richard, who will get started with today’s presentation.

Richard: Thanks, Meghan. Welcome, everyone.

So, just kind of taking off from where Meghan left off, what I’ll be covering today is kind of the latest board portal functionality. Really, what we’re seeing, clients, their staff and their board members looking to get out of their board portal. It’s certainly changed since even two years ago, but certainly three or four years ago.

So I’m going to be touching on and walking you through how to foster more collaboration on the boards around the sharing of notes, comments, how to vote electronically, written consents, resolutions, even approving minutes, and we’re also going to go through an effective search tool, because that’s certainly a big time saver for boards.

In between meetings, but certainly in the meetings, and questionnaires and surveys. I’m sure for a lot of you, that’s something that you do at least once a year, sometimes quarterly. So we’ll touch on Diligent Boards questionnaire tool, how that’s [taking 00:02:50] particularly around D&O questionnaires as well.

So what I have got on my screen here, and what you are looking is actually my iPad home screen. That’s the device we find most board members using, but by no means are they restricted to it. They can use any device. So any Windows laptop, desktop, iPads, Windows Surface tablets, Android, Mac, doesn’t matter, and importantly, the interface is consistent across those devices as well, because we certainly feel a lot of clients where their meetings are hybrid. There’s a mixture of devices getting used.

So this is the Diligent Boards app. I just flipped a few pages in the book. We’ve got to the point of making a note. So I was just saying that you’re able to do this, either using the keyboard, or one thing a lot of board members like is they’re able to dictate a note, probably because they don’t need to lift a finger. So if I do an example here, “Ask John about this when I see him at the meeting next week.”

Especially for longer notes, this gets used often. So I can keep this as a private note, or I can share it, if I tap on Private, with either everyone that’s got access to this book, or select people. So let’s go ahead and share it with Meghan. I’m going to tap OK, and to click OK here.

Now, I’m on a Windows 8 device here, so what I’ll do is I can actually split the screen and log in as Meghan, so that we can look at this in real time, in terms of the note sharing.

Okay. It tells me right here I’ve got a note. Here it is, from Richard. I can actually, as Meghan, add a comment within that note. So if we split the screen over here, so we’ve got the iPad screen on the right-hand side. That’s what you’re seeing there. On the left, I’m logged in as a different user, Meghan, logging in through our Windows app. So I’m going to add a comment. I’m going to share it. Now, if we come over to the iPad, we can see we’ve got this little bubble now that’s appeared on the note I made previously, and then I can comment within it, so let’s do one more. I’m just going to type this one.

So what we’re ending up here with is a threaded conversation, and what’s unique about it is it’s around the content on the page. So your board members are not having to be in a discussion tool, then go and find the page that’s being discussed. So we’re finding a lot of boards really find this useful in fostering more collaboration, not just where they’re talking with the board member they know the best, but they’re resharing their comments with the rest of the board, or the chairman, or actually back with the administrative staff. So it’s great in between meetings, raising questions beforehands, discussion points as well.

Okay, so the next thing we’re going to go through is voting, and I believe we have one more quick poll for you.

Meghan: Thanks, Richard.

I’ll give this another second here for folks to respond to. All right. Can folks see the poll results there? There we go. The 40% neither. 32% are doing both, so interesting to see it’s either all or nothing with most folks.

So let me, with that, hand things back over to Richard to keep the conversation going.

Richard: Okay. Looks like that works without any problems. Voting electronically. A lot of our clients find this really handy for a couple of reasons, really. They’re not having to wait until the meeting to cast that vote. They’ve got the flexibility of doing that in between meetings, and certainly not calling a meeting for that purpose, and they’re able to get those responses much faster, and it’s easier for staff. You’re not having to scan these and email it. Likewise, board members are not having to locate a fax machine from wherever they are and get this back to you.

If we look towards the top left-hand corner in our [exerpt 00:07:23] annotations here, we’ve got a little voting tab. Now, this appears when there’s something that your board members are required to vote on. Some of you might have spotted that this is also on the home screen. So right when you log in, there can be an alert that pops up for your board members telling them, look, this something that requires your votes, and a link right to it.

They can read from the first page, or they can go right to the signature page if they know how they’re voting, and it’s as simple as right where it says, tap here to cast your votes. That’s above my name. Let’s say I’m going to vote for. These are the options. I’ll confirm that, and then it will stamp my signature, so we have a date and time stamp along with it. I can check the status of the votes and see how other people have voted.

So not just in between meetings, but certainly in meetings as well, this is getting used. This talks to the server in real time. So if Meghan Brown, here, casts her vote, then I would see her signature pop up in real time as well.

When the vote is complete, it’ll say that, at the top, the administrative staff can receive an automatic email notifying them as well, and then this becomes part of your record of the book.

You can set a majority, or if you need the vote to be anonymous, you can do that as well.

And let’s tap on Books. This will just take us back to the home screen. What I’ll do now is I’ll walk you through the questionnaire tool, so if we look down at the bottom here, bottom right-hand corner, this is for any kind of survey or questionnaire. And I’ve got some examples here. Again, I’m logged in as a board member. These are some that I’m required to answer.

What’s really nice about this is your board members can complete them on an iPad, on a tablet. They’re able to start it and finish it later. They’re able to finish it on their desktop. And let’s go into, this one I’ve already started, the D&O questionnaire. No sort of predetermined templates that you’re forced to use. Most of our clients have any kind of survey in a Word document format, and they just copy and paste the questions over. You can have any kind of formatted answer, so the most common we find our clients submitting to the board would be answer yes or no, n/a, if no, please explain, give a rating one to five, strongly agree, strongly disagree, and you can see you can have some of them formatted for a date, answering by using the keyboard and putting in text, formatted for an email. We have required questions, contingent questions. I’ll just put in my email here, and we’ll go to the next page.

It automatically saves after they answer each question. So they’re not having to remember to do that. Let’s put some gibberish in here. Now we should be able to go to the next page. I’ve answered all the required questions.

What’s really nice is, as staff, you can actually see your board members’ progress with this. So, if you need all their answers by Friday, you’re able to see if John Smith is 95% complete and send him a reminder. But this, certainly compared to your current processes, you should find it gives you and the board a lot of flexibility in completing these.

And what I’ll do now is I’ll actually jump over to how these are created. Before I do that, I just answered yes for question seven. You can see question eight appeared because it was contingent on my answer of yes. And you can have your board members sign these. One feature we’ve got coming in the next two, three weeks that a lot of our clients have requested is the ability to send out these questionnaires and have them pre-filled with your board members’ answers from last time. So it’s even easier for them. They can just go in, edit, and improve their answers.

So let’s jump over here to the administrative side. I’m already logged in. I’m going to open up the Questionnaire Manager, and here’s the one that we were just answering. Now, another really nice feature here is, we know that these things don’t change a great deal for you each time that you do them. It’s really the date and maybe a question or two. You can actually copy any of the ones that you’ve done previously, tweak it, and send it out for next time. So clients find that a massive time-saver.

Let’s do an example of that. I’m going to duplicate and copy the D&O questionnaire we were just answering. So I’m now in my role as an administrator. You can set the permissions at the top, and we will go ahead and just add a question, so I can show you how easy that is.

You have an introductory page with your logo. Let’s go over here. I’m going to add a question along the lines of (typing), and we’re going to say, one to five. And what’s nice is, if you have ten to fifteen questions with the same answer like this, you can just copy them each time.

Let’s put this in a nice table, and you can see this is how it will appear for your board members to answer it.

Now, if we go back to the Questionnaire Manager, you can see that you can export any of these, and it will export the results in a nice spreadsheet. So that’s what I had in mind for the questionnaire, survey tool.

What I’ll do now is show you, if we go back to the iPad quickly, one feature that we have a lot of, particularly, board members and general councils finding particularly handy is the ability to search the content and search the whole portal. Seems to be something lacking with a lot of systems out there, whether it’s vendor or in house.

With Diligent Boards, there’s a magnifying glass at the top, there. So if I search for investment, and this could be a word or phrase, I can search my books currently available for upcoming meetings. I can include all the archives as well, so I’ve got a few years of archived books here that I’m searching. Again, it’s the content. It’s not just the title of the document. It gives us a lot of information for each result. We can see how many results on that page, and then you can see, if I zoom in here, the words that I’ve searched for appear in yellow.

So what your board members are able to do, and really, the scenario where this is arising is in the meeting. They’ll be sat there, and someone will say, wait, we’ve talked about this before, I think at the meeting last year. No one internally is then going to have to go digging through storage. Right there and then, within five to ten seconds, your board members are able to search what they’re looking for and find that that particular page from a book last year, or even five years ago, in that space of time. So certainly efficiency is there that the board are going to appreciate.

So what you’ve got here is really one place for everything you need the board to do and they’re looking to do, and that’s certainly something, as opposed to three or four years ago, wasn’t really the goal, but you’ve got your board members now, or the majority of them, hopefully, comfortable with the idea of electronic receipts and access of the board and [committee 00:15:43] materials. Now, you and me are going to want to be doing more.

So things like questionnaires, surveys, searching, voting, but also having a dynamic calendar. We’ve got the meeting dates for the year color coded. Having a contact section for everyone’s details, whether on the board or executive team, or even staff. But certainly, at a bare minimum, your system should provide a repository that’s well organized. Things like bylaws, policies, procedures, press releases, that sort of information should be readily available. All of this information should be available offline as well.

Meghan: Richard, that actually brings up a great point. We had a question just come in from an audience member. Now, is it possible to scan in board archive materials from past meetings? This particular question comes from a company that has archive materials all the way back to 1931, so that’s a lot of information and a lot of paper, or digital files, potentially.

Richard: Short answer is yes. That is actually pretty straightforward. There’s a couple of ways that you can add that material to Diligent Boards. I imagine that for the archive material that you’re talking about there, that it’s available electronically. So what you’re able to do is actually upload a meeting book that’s in a PDF format with all the attachments scanned into one PDF. You’re able to drag and drop the whole thing into Diligent Boards, and it’s going to add and actually create all your sections. So, if you’ve got a bookmarked PDF, it will build out your book and format it according to that.

So that’s not uncommon. We provide each of our clients with a dedicated customer success team of five reps, and they show each of our clients that are coming off any kind of existing system how to do that. We’ve actually got an onboarding process specifically for companies coming off other board portal vendors. For example, we’ve got fifty-nine companies that recently switched from another provider. So we have an onboarding process specifically for them and helping them get that data over.

Little bit more on support. It’s certainly one area where we find companies switching to Diligent, not just because they’re looking for additional functionality, but, somewhat sadly, they’ve not quite received what was promised from that provider. You’re paying for this service. You should certainly get the most out of it. Customer support seems to be an area where a lot of companies, clients that used to use other systems, felt a bit let down, primarily around response time and the ability to troubleshoot those problems.

And I’m sure most of you agree that your board members are extremely busy, and I’ve got no doubt many of them are very impatient. From our experience, they don’t wait more than five minutes for help, whether that’s troubleshooting an issue or resetting their passwords. If they have to wait any length of time greater than that, they’re not going to do that when they’re contacting the vendor. They’re going to go to plan B, and that’s going to be contacting, probably, many of you on the phone. Staff in the Legal Department, Corporate Secretary Office, President’s Office. And so you end up getting these phone calls, and then you’re contacting the vendor.

And that’s really what we find most companies are coming from when they come to Diligent. We’re often met with some skepticism when we tell them, look, that customer service is a big part of what you’re paying for, and it’s a resource that your board should be using as well, not just the administrative staff.

Our clients, our customer service is 24/7, 365, and it’s award winning. It’s the only one that is, and it’s because any time of day, any phone call that we get from our clients and their board members, it is answered every single time, and that’s within four to five rings. And we have far greater resources than any other provider in the industry, and that’s really what it comes down to. You have to have staff at the vendor in different regions if they’re going to be able to answer the phone calls from your board members Sunday nights, and that’s the most common time that board members are needing help. They realize they’d better read that stuff before the meeting on Tuesday. So they will call us instead of administrative staff, even though they know you, and they’re going to call Diligent because they want that issue solved as soon as possible.

Another factor that we find clients have sort of complained about when they’ve evaluated a move to Diligent off any kind of existing system, whether external or in-house, is just reliability of it. It just doesn’t work, or it doesn’t work well enough. And certainly, where your board is concerned, and your most important executives, that can’t be understated. You want something that’s not going to give you or them headaches. You don’t want to be messing around with workarounds for Java. You don’t want to have to worry about every time Apple updates their latest operating system.

I’m sure many of you are aware iOS 9 is being released by Apple this month, in the next two or three weeks, and many vendors are often caught out by that and find that the application is not immediately compatible, and this has happened for the last two years with iOS 8 and iOS 7. That’s around two, three board meetings.

So we’ve had a lot of companies switch to Diligent just because they lost some trust in their existing provider. It’s never something that Diligent ever has to deal with. We bulletproof every update. Every company gets a software development kit from Apple three months before. That’s more than enough time to make sure it’s compatible and that testing is not rushed.

So, if you’ve had any issues like that with your existing system, board members complaining that the sync takes forever, any kind of unreliability in between meetings, or even in the meetings, with Wi-Fi cutting out, definitely reach back out to Diligent. Schedule a one-on-one demo. Those are problem that never occur for our board members. This application is fully functional offline. You don’t need Wi-Fi to access all the features. So, for all our clients, every meeting, start to finish, is offline. No IT involvement is needed.

Meghan: Great. Thanks, Richard.

We’ve had a couple of more questions come in. We will absolutely follow up with you afterwards. It’s been some specific questions around commenting and the ability to share, or comment only amongst a select group of folks. That’s absolutely possible within our system in variety of different ways. So we’ll be in touch, additionally, with some further information for the folks that we’ve not been able to get to their questions today. Just in the interest of time, we’ve promised that this would be thirty minutes, and we want to make sure that everyone is not missing out on other things.

But, before we close today, I want to share with folks one last poll. If you had to pick one, if you thought your current solution could improve one of these following items, surveys, questionnaires, voting, collaboration, support, or reliability, please take a second here and vote what you think is most important. Please feel free to follow up with us at any time. You can visit for more information. I will be sure to put Richard’s contact information up on screen as well.

Let’s take a look here. And it looks like, interesting. About 42% of folks are looking for better collaboration tools from the technology that they use, followed closely behind by voting and support. Very interesting responses.

And lastly, as promised, here’s Richard’s contact information. Be sure to follow up with us with any additional questions. The replay will be available later today, and thanks again for bearing with us during our technical difficulties.

  • We will give you an overview of some of the features found in Diligent Boards that make us the most widely used board portal, with over 100,000 users on all seven continents.
  • Richard Harrison

    Regional Sales Director, Sales

    This includes questionnaires, electronic voting, and some unique collaboration tools.