How Does an iPad Reduce Board Meeting Papers?

Nicholas J Price
5 min read
In 1975, Business Week published an article by George Pake called "The Office of the Future." In this work, Pake painted a picture of the typical office desk of the time, with stacks of papers, overflowing file drawers and desktop organizers. He also painted a picture of the office cubes of the future, which he projected would consist of a desk, a computer, a chair and a human being. Back in the 1970s, the idea of having a paperless office was more of a dream than a real possibility. Today, it's more of a probability than a dream.

Paper still has its purposes, but carries great risk when containing information about company operations. However, being competitive in the corporate world means working as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible. Corporate executives also point to saving environmental resources as a viable reason for becoming as paperless as possible. Environmentalism also scores points with many consumers.

How Much Paper Can an iPad Save?

With the increased scrutiny by regulators, shareholders and institutional investors, and the increased legal pressures being placed on board directors, boards are working harder than ever to document their discussions and decisions. To get a sense of how much things have changed, California bank director Joe Garrett describes the difference in the size of board books within the last 30 years. Garrett recalls his first board packet in 1984 being about 50 or 60 pages. The most recent board packet he saw was over 600 pages before the holding company added another 300 pages. Garrett likens reading today's board packets to devouring a copy of War and Peace in time for each board meeting.

Now, consider that the average size of a corporate board is 9.2 directors. On the high end, corporate boards may have as many as 31 members. To print a board handbook would yield somewhere between 460 and 27,900 pages  just for the board books alone. To break it down a bit further, that's between one and 56 reams of paper.

Those figures don't consider the additional costs of printer ink cartridges, wear and tear on the equipment, or the costs to distribute heavy board books to directors. In addition, boards have to account for the numerous hours of labor that it takes to organize, print, collate and assemble board books. In essence, the costs are outrageous!

Board governance management software systems, such as Governance Cloud by Diligent Corporation, combined with a handy iPad, make preparing for board meetings a breeze compared to the past. Diligent Boards gives board directors readability and immediacy, and the iPad gives them portability and convenience. Combined, these products have transformed boardrooms.

Board governance management software and iPads free up hours of time for board administrators, which they can better spend preparing for the board meeting.

Additional Benefits of Using an iPad With Diligent Board Apps

When board directors install Diligent Boards and Diligent Messenger apps on their iPads, it provides them with numerous other benefits, many of which also save them from having to reach for pen and paper.

With Diligent Board apps, board directors can take their board business with them everywhere they go and leave the paper at home. They won't have to fret about forgetting important papers, losing them or letting them get into the wrong hands. Board directors who have action items to work on can count on automatic reminders. The concerns about jotting notes on small pieces of paper or putting reminders in a notebook somewhere are a thing of the past.

Diligent Boards makes it possible for board directors to get the most updated information on board meeting documents without having to sift through hundreds of papers.

As directors prepare for their meetings, they may decide to write some notes on the documents, so they remember what they want to bring up at the meeting. With Diligent Boards, they still don't have to print out paper. Marking up documents is a simple matter of pulling up board documents on the iPad. From there, directors can use a variety of ways to mark up the documents, including typing text, freehand writing, circling or boxing items, drawing arrows, coloring text, highlighting text and adding watermarks. Diligent Messenger allows them to share their documents with their peers, with or without the markups.

Electronic security is a huge issue for board directors. Diligent Boards, Diligent Messenger and all of the other governance software solutions in Governance Cloud are fully integrated and highly secure within a centralized online platform.

While portability is an asset, it can also be a liability. If an iPad gets lost or stolen, Diligent can use the remote-wiping capability to keep board information safe.

Saving Paper With Agendas and Meeting Minutes

Planning the agenda takes time. It may also take a few rounds of approvals until the first draft is ready to send out. After the corporate secretary sends it out, often board directors will ask for some additions or modifications, which means a few more rounds of paper. With Diligent Boards and an iPad, corporate secretaries can complete and distribute board agendas in a completely paperless manner. If it's the day of the meeting and the agenda needs a last-minute change, it's easy enough to make changes online in Diligent Boards.

Recording meeting minutes is another board process that used to require lots of paper. After using Diligent Minutes to record board meeting minutes, board directors can share and approve board meeting minutes in record time using Diligent Messenger. There's no need to chase down signatures for meeting minutes approvals because boards can route documents and get signatures electronically.

Board directors can store copies of board books, including all board packet pages, the agenda and the meeting minutes, using Diligent's unlimited, cloud-based storage program.

While saving time and paper are good things, mobility is also important to board directors. Most board directors and executives travel quite a bit. Using Diligent Boards and an iPad, they no longer have to lug around heavy board books or cumbersome laptop computers. They can travel anywhere around the world and tend to their board business from any setting. They can even work offline if they choose to.

Using iPads in the boardroom saves corporations immensely on paper and ink alone. The savings extends to create greater effectiveness, efficiency and security. Governance Cloud is a suite of software solutions designed with the board's important work at the forefront of the design. In this way, Diligent's products have truly revolutionized enterprise governance management.