A paper-based board packet for meetings sets plenty of limitations for a corporate board, especially one with forward-thinking directors. And out of all the shortcomings of a paper-based board meeting, the biggest is the physical constraint it puts on mobility.
Board Packet Logistics
The limitations begin with the board pack itself. Corporate secretaries print out pages after pages of meeting files and put them in a folder or bind them in a book. The more pages are included, the heavier the board package gets. This alone already poses a problem with sending out the copies to all directors. Delivery fees for heavy packets do add up when done regularly, therefore using up a significant portion of the budget in the long run.
To compute the cost of using printed board packet logistics, here’s a handy paperless board meetings calculator..
In terms of portability, a printed board pack is not exactly easy to carry around, either. Directors are often on the go, so they can’t be expected to take a heavy board pack when they travel. They either have to endure the heavy load or simply leave it somewhere, which makes it useless. The problem is multiplied if a director sits on multiple corporate boards and therefore, receives multiple board books as well. They can’t take all these board packs with them, so some will be left behind untouched on their desk.
As for security, there isn’t simply enough to protect a printed board pack. Security measures are merely preventive, but not reactive. A board pack can be protected from loss or theft by keeping it under lock and key, but once it falls in the wrong hands, all bets are off.
A digital solution, on the other hand, has several options for security such as encryption, authorisation, and automatic data purging.
Then there’s the actual board meeting to think of. Paper-based board meetings still call for face-to-face interactions, and for directors with packed schedules, finding a common denominator for their free time is a challenge. But even when a schedule is finally agreed upon, the next points of concern are the venue, transportation, and accommodation. Again, these things can eat up a big portion of the budget. If they didn’t, then the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) industry wouldn’t exist. But it does exist, because there’s big money to be earned when there’s such a high demand.
This isn’t to say that directors should never have to meet face to face simply because there’s technology that allows them to meet virtually, such as board portal software. According to a Forbes study, Business Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face, eight out of ten executives still prefer meeting people the traditional way as opposed to meeting them in a technology-enabled way. The results of this study go to show that the demand for face-to-face board meetings isn’t going away — at least, not any time soon.
Nevertheless, an electronic board meeting running on a board portal software offers a kind of flexibility a paper-based board meeting can’t. Companies that want to cut costs will save on travel expenses, while directors who are in remote locations will still be able to participate via an iPad or Android tablet. In the end, a technology-enabled board meeting serves as a viable alternative to — and not necessarily a replacement for — face-to-face board meetings. It enables directors to have more options, making it easier for them to do their jobs and focus on what’s truly important, which is thinking of ways to improve their company.