DSM Pension Services improves efficiency in the boardroom with Diligent Boards
DSM Pension Services B.V. (DPS) is the centre of expertise within DSM in the field of pension and asset management. Natascha Jacobs is Management Support Assistant at DPS. She is responsible for organising all meetings with customers and for that the company has been using Diligent Boards™ (formerly Diligent Boardbooks) since May 2013.
A complex meeting and board structure is in place at DPS. The organization has to deal with two separate pension funds. Each pension fund has approximately seven bodies, including boards, referent boards, commissions, accountability and supervisory bodies, and the management team of DPS. In total, the various committees meet about 100 times a year.
Natascha said: “It used to be a major challenge for our team to ensure that each and every meeting was prepared for properly. In preparation for a meeting, a lot of time was spent on printing, copying and the distribution of all documents, even by courier. And in the case of a change, we would have to start the whole process all over again. Also for the board members, the printed meeting documents (often several hundred pages) were barely manageable.”
Besides being very time-intensive, there was another disadvantage: it was impossible to guarantee information security at the very highest level. DPS is entrusted with information of a very sensitive nature and it is vital that it is not leaked. However, once sensitive information has been printed out, it becomes
difficult to make sure that this does not happen. With this and other reasons in mind, the Board at DPS wanted to make the transition to digital meetings in which attendees would be able to use tablets. However, the solution would have to be one that fulfils today’s security requirements.
According to Ton Knoops, IT Coordinator at DPS: “Today, security and information security are more important than ever before, especially in the field in which we operate. This made the security aspect the starting point for our search for an appropriate board portal. After all, if a tablet is stolen, you do not want anyone else to be able to access the documents stored on it. Another important consideration for us during the selection process was how and where to store data.”
THE SEARCH FOR A BOARD PORTAL
Knoops compared various providers of board portals that met the requirements that had been established and ultimately opted for Diligent Boards. Ton said: “The Board of Directors at DSM had been using Diligent Boards for a while and was very happy with it. Although this was something that we did take into consideration, there were three other aspects in particular that informed our final decision: information security, user-friendliness and the superior service desk.”
Knoops explained: “Firstly, Diligent emerged as the best for information security. All data is stored in the best hosting structure, with a backup to a second disaster recovery system at another geographic location. Diligent Boards also stood out from other options because of its userfriendliness. It takes just 30 minutes to learn how to use this solution. The last of the three points that made us opt for Diligent Boards was the excellent client service offered; it is available 24 hours a day in a number of different languages. What we also liked was the fact that the service employees at Diligent Boards have been trained to help this specific target group quickly and knowledgeably.”
To make sure that the first meeting ran smoothly, a hybrid meeting was organised – featuring both a digital and a paper meeting book – and supported by Diligent. Natascha said: “Changes like this always cause some tension and people take time to get used to them. However, I hadn’t expected Diligent Boards to be accepted quite as quickly as it was. Everyone was in favour of it after just the first meeting. This really did exceed all our expectations.”
DPS has been using Diligent Boards for approximately two years now. Natascha said: “Initially, the solution was intended solely for the Board of Directors at the SABIC and PDN pension funds, consisting jointly of approximately 20 users. However, its success means that we already have 60 users. This is a huge relief for our team, which is responsible for the provision of management support. We are now free to focus solely on the most important tasks, without losing valuable time in the copy room.”
Ultimately, the transition to a board portal has yielded another, unexpected advantage for DPS: meetings are shorter and more efficient, too. “As you can imagine, browsing and searching for a specific page takes up a lot of time at a meeting,” said Natascha. “A huge amount of time was saved by digitising.”
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