The 5-Step Guide to Embracing Paperless Board Meetings, Securely

paperless board meetings

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It’s time to make the paper a thing of the past.

Can you hear that?

That’s the sound of progress, and it’s approaching at pace. Just a few years back, the idea of a wholly digital organization may have sounded foreign, but the days of physical documents, stacks of paperwork, and overstuffed filing cabinets sound like they’re well and truly numbered.

Whether private, public, or nonprofit, an increasing number of organizations are undergoing a digital transformation in the boardroom and reaping the benefits of streamlined document management and storage, as well as lower overheads as paper, toner, and ink are slashed from the budget as a result.

The majority of the buzz out of industry reports and white papers focuses on the financial boon of a paperless environment. It’s easy to see why. Yet it’s the increased oversight, control, and cyber security of this digital revolution that’s truly empowering boards to govern with complete confidence.

And that, right there, is utterly priceless.

The Case for Ditching Filing Cabinets

Physical documents pass through many pairs of hands on a daily basis: secretaries, board members, customers, and clients. This is often via insecure communication channels. You could say paper…well, the paper goes places.

Therein lies the conundrum. Paper has a propensity to wander. It’s a managerial nightmare, but it’s also a major security issue in the making. Boards have a responsibility to their customers, clients, and shareholders that are increasingly difficult to meet with documents being left behind or simply lost.

Back in 2014, an in-house solicitor in the UK dropped sensitive information “…in the street after taking documents home”, which “contained sensitive personal data”. That’s just one example of the countless cases where physical or digital documents have been lost, stolen, or misplaced.

With a single meeting, often resulting in a litany of memos, minutes, and handwritten notes, it’s no wonder that documents can run into the hundreds if not thousands. In order to achieve the oversight expected of them, boards require a modern, cloud-based solution that optimizes the board meeting experience while maximizing security.

1. Make the Transition Seamless With Board Management Software

The ability to embrace change is crucial to the longevity of any board, but hastily trading one insecure environment for another is a disaster in the making. The transition to digital is about more than shredding paperwork and using PDFs. It requires research, planning, and proper execution.

Digitizing existing documents as well as reviewing solutions such as Google Drive and Dropbox, which are likely already in use, is just one part of the process. They don’t address many of the blind spots present in current digital solutions that lead to some of the issues highlighted earlier.

Stellar Library, a board meeting solutions provider, articulated it best when they said, “…Is it any wonder more and more organizations are turning to board management software to help address the problems?

Document and Board Management Software provides a cloud-based solution that brings all of your board’s documents under the one umbrella; however, not all solutions are created equal. Given the vast discrepancies in feature sets and pricing structures, research is critical.

Connectivity is one such area that requires particular attention. A major strength of any given Board Portal is its ability to provide quick and easy access to documents. Or, it should be. Many of today’s purely web-based solutions require 24/7 online connectivity in order to access important information, leaving board members stranded if they’re without a connection and in need of important documents.

It’s one step forward, two steps back.

App-based solutions on the other hand, such as Stellar, circumvent many of the caveats of their web-based brethren, ticking every box on the lists created by many of today’s leading governing bodies. They’re also often a smarter investment, providing value and quality so you’re not left paying more than you need to, just because you think you have to. So, weigh your options and choose wisely.

2. Monitor & Set User Permissions

Digital document and data management provides a level of control and oversight that traditional channels simply can’t offer, so make the most of it! A fully-featured solution will provide per-user access permissions so that your board can ensure the right people have access to the right documents at…well, the right time.

It’s a far cry and a welcome change from existing communication channels and delivery methods. Take email, for example. Send a file to the wrong address or one that’s later compromised, and you won’t see that document again. Which brings us to…

3. Cut Out Insecure Digital Communication Channels

Conducting business in the cloud means the only thing you’re likely to be sending is postage stamps the way of your paperwork: extinct. But, while couriers may be slow and prone to misplacing important parcels, so too are many of the most popular digital communication channels.

Text messages? Emails? Private or public, emails are vulnerable to interception or being accessed via compromised accounts, so rely on more secure document distribution packages wherever possible.

4. Beware ‘Bring Your Own Device’

Unlocking the long-term savings of going digital often requires a short-term investment in technology like tablets, laptops, and smartphones. If members are going to participate in board meetings, they’re going to need devices that allow them to access your newly digitised documents, especially if they’re connecting remotely.

Internal discussions at this stage usually turn to cost-cutting measures that rely on existing, personal devices. Though alluring in the short-term, the long-term costs of using these usually inherently insecure personal devices can be far more costly in the case of a data breach or simply misplacing them on public transport.

5. Bring Board Members Up to Speed

Is your boardroom agile and innovative? Or is it a little dustier? Either way, it’s worth investing time into bringing your organisation’s staff up to speed on the new tools, techniques, and processes so they’re able to maximise the benefits to your board moving forward.

Paper? It’s A Thing Of The Past

The future of the traditional boardroom is two things: it’s digital, and it’s now. Though the processes can take a little time to put in place, it’s never been easier to start taking the steps required to transition to a paperless environment and improve your board’s ability to govern.

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