Digitize documents for more efficient
board of directors meetings
By Ellen Ryan
Kathump. Kathump. Kathump. The Grand Bank of Texas’s photocopier used to work overtime before a board meeting, cranking out reams of agendas, minutes and background for 16 members to study and scribble on.
Assistants collated, added, checked and stuffed. Then—oops, usually there was some last-minute change or addition. Reprint the board book, explain the change, mail again to the 12 members not with the $284 million-asset community bank headquartered in Dallas.
“This was a pain,” says Senior Vice President Chad Smith.
So last spring, Grand Bank purchased a license to use OnBoard, a meeting management software from a Lafayette, Ind., company called Passageways, an ICBA Preferred Service Provider of board-meeting software for community banks. Besides avoiding the time and paper waste—not to mention the ballooning postage costs—officials sought greater efficiency and security.
These days, before each monthly board meeting, Smith or a staffer reviews records of the last meeting. He changes the date and, if needed, the title and place, then checks the members who should attend.
Adding agenda items is easy: Type the heading, hit enter, repeat. The system adds a bulleting structure. Items can be assigned to various attendees, and if they have “contributor” clearance or permission, they can upload documents to individual items.
Board books get to everyone instantly—no waiting for U.S. mail. Same with any addenda: There is no request to integrate the new material with the old or to replace outdated or inaccurate pages.
In preparing, board members still read the minutes, highlight documents, jot questions in the margins. Only now it’s all done electronically, from circles to “sticky notes” to text boxes. On previous meeting days, one or more members might have forgotten the board book, but they’re not likely to forget a phone. If someone leaves an iPad at home? Grand Bank has a couple to loan. All materials are in the cloud—even board members’ personal notes—so with the right password, access is no problem.
The software preserves a valid record of votes, adds meetings to calendars and works seamlessly on smartphones, PCs and Macs. And it’s secure. What if sensitive material were lost in the mail or fell into the wrong hands? OnBoard is encrypted, and when board members change, Grand Bank can revoke permissions instantly.
The following are other benefits of moving to a digital document platform for board meetings:
- Each month, Grand Bank saves at least six hours of administrative time plus $72 in postage (without addenda) and five reams of paper just for board meeting prep.
- Now that Grand Bank uses the software platform for all meetings—operations team, customer service reps, managers, committees—it’s saving at least an hour of administration time each. Redistributing duties means not having to add staff.
- Regulators applaud the security features.
- Board members picked up the software quickly. “It’s intuitive,” says Smith. The only hiccups were forgotten passwords and occasional time needed to adapt to security levels, “but they were all in on the concept.”
For Grand Bank, the experience of adopting a nearly all-digital documentation process for board meetings keeps getting better, says Smith. And that includes less kathump, kathump, kathump.
Ellen Ryan is a writer in Maryland.