Case Studies

Methanol Institute gets swifter and safer way of working with Diligent Boards™

The Methanol Institute is the global trade association representing the world’s leading methanol producers and distributors. It accelerates the evolution of methanol from chemical commodity to global energy resource. Established in 1989 in Washington, D.C., its multifaceted mission includes building product awareness and ensuring the safe handling of methanol and its derivatives across the global supply chain. It promotes the growth of the methanol industry by furthering methanol as an essential chemical commodity and an emerging source of clean and renewable energy. The Methanol Institute also strives to influence global regulatory and public policy initiatives that impact the methanol industry. 

CHALLENGE

Having 13 Board Directors with diverse backgrounds as well as being geographically dispersed around the world, Chris Chatterton, COO of the Methanol Institute (MI), based in Singapore, saw the need for a safer and more efficient way of working, especially when it came to Board meetings.

“In setting up and distributing Board packs at my first MI Board meeting in 2015, which took place in a hotel conference facility in London, I noticed that the delivered Board packs had arrived in two large suitcases as checked baggage from the USA. This could have caused a big security breach if the bags had been lost.”

In addition to having binders available at the meeting location, in some cases, Board packs had even been sent via courier worldwide before each Board meeting; this not only created a logistical nightmare as well as prohibitive costs, but sensitive information could have easily fallen into the wrong hands. “Each Board pack contained up to 16 sections (with close to 200 pages per pack) with confidential documents supporting what was being discussed in the Board’s five committees. “And all these papers were a challenge to navigate as well,” Chris went on to say.

Since MI’s eight staff members are also situated across different time zones including Singapore; Washington, D.C; Beijing,and Brussels, sending documents back and forth via email to build the Board pack became cumbersome, unsafe, tedious and communication suffered in this area as well.

So, the key drivers for the change to Diligent Boards were time, cost and security. “It hit me one day how expensive and unsafe it was to have paper Board packs when I saw that many of the 22 packs we had meticulously prepared were left behind by our Board meeting participants after the meeting was over. Strictly confidential documents just lying there coupled with the costs of creating, copying and collating them just wasn’t right”, Chris expounded.

After this incident, he made it one of his priorities to move to an online Board portal solution. He just needed to convince CEO Greg Dolan. The CEO also recognised the problems associated with paper board packs but had similar reservations as Chris. Initially, both Chris and Greg were hesitant, as they thought they might lose board members’ interest, as the introduction of electronic Board packs was a significant break from what the Board was accustomed to. However, Chris pointed out that theoretically, acceptance and adaptation should be relatively easy for the Board members since most of them were already using smartphones or other devices, without any issues. Eventually, he says, they both came around, and after receiving the ‘go-ahead’ from the Executive Committee to look for a board management software vendor, they didn’t hesitate.

APPROACH

Chris set out to find a superior Board Portal Software solution. He had used other digital board portals before so he had a general idea of what to look for.

“I looked at five vendors in total, from less expensive packages that you could download with a credit card and learn to use with an online tutorial, to more sophisticated, albeit expensive, board packages with top-notch service.”

At first, Chris said that all the vendors seemed to provide the same products and features, regardless of whether it was an experienced corporate vendor or a start-up company. After six months of stealthily searching, he was surprised to be offered a live demo by Diligent, which, based on his view, he considered “hands-down the best”. And in the end, the leading and foremost solution was in fact Diligent – the world’s #1 software for Boards.

“Diligent Boards’ software package was straightforward and easy to use, which was very important to us to ensure our Board would readily accept it,” Chris relayed. Diligent offered both online and onsite training, to executive assistants in Washington and Singapore, and with MI Board members at the initial Board meeting held in Dubai. “We experienced few, if any, problems in the beginning. Diligent Boards customer service was on-hand nonetheless to answer any questions which may have arisen. After the first Board meeting using Diligent, some Board members immediately remarked that it was a significant step-up from the previous paper Board pack; everything was so much more organised and the digital board portal was easier to navigate.” Since then, MI has the time to pull the Board pack together and delivering a much more professional, secure and high-quality result.

RESULTS

Chris reiterated the fact that Diligent Boards stood out from the rest and named just a few of the benefits that have helped make the Board meetings more efficient where valuable time was put to effective use, cost was contained, and confidentiality was kept intact.

  • Straightforward, easy-to-understand and easy-to-use.
  • Members can access it anywhere, anytime, across multiple time zones.
  • Easy to reference secured supporting materials and search archives.
  • Board members can effortlessly prepare in advance and while travelling.
  • Increased member engagement leading to better decision-making.
  • Reduced costs as board meeting preparation time decreased 50%!
  • Using Diligent software means no printing, collating or mailing is needed.
  • Gives a swifter, safer and set way of working.

Perhaps the best result and one that Chris couldn’t be more pleased with is the way his CEO, Greg, has adapted and thrived while using the Diligent Boards Portal.

“The Board meeting is the key platform he shares with our Board to communicate and guide the business. He now has much better control over critical and confidential information, key messages, and how they are presented and communicated to the Board. He can make changes quickly wherever he is, efficiently manage all global inputs for the Board pack preparation, and produce a highly polished product within several hours.” Chris reflected that this previously took almost a full workweek.

“Now Greg is able to focus on more important matters concerning the Board than the stress of putting the Board pack itself together. As a result, our CEO is one of Diligent Boards’ biggest fans.”