There’s no doubt that your organization will enjoy many benefits once it moves to the paperless boardroom: Purchase cost for paper will be reduced, board packs will be digitized, and files will be synchronized, just to name a few.
However, getting to that point isn’t necessarily a smooth journey. The transition stage is the most difficult part of making the change, and you’ll face some people and circumstances that will get in the way. But consider these obstacles as challenges to overcome and not as disadvantages.
Here are a few challenges you can expect to encounter — along with some suggestions on how to handle them:
Challenge 1: Initial expenses
Paperless meetings will save money in the long run, but initially, a chunk of the organization’s current budget should be set aside to buy smartphones, tablet, and board meeting software such as BoardPad, BoardVantage, Boardworks, or Convene. Resources are also needed for training on how to use these board portals.
Approach: Demonstrate the long term returns. Going paperless will not only save money spent on paper, but also money spent on travel expenses and venue rentals. When comparing costs, compute the projected expenses for paperless and traditional board meetings over the next several years so you can see the difference. Also, with many people owning gadgets, you can implement a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy.
Challenge 2: Learning curve
Some people are technologically-challenged. They may be technophobes who are afraid to try out new technology, or they may be interested to learn but never had the reason to do so before. They may also be set in their ways and haven’t felt the need to update their habits. Whatever their reasons are, these people will generally find it difficult to move to paperless board meetings without enough preparation.
Approach: Provide hands-on training for all, and then allow them to have ample time to adjust before you complete the transition to board portals. People who have problems using new technologically usually lack exposure to it, so let them practice for a bit, and make sure to entertain their inquiries. Board meeting software and board portals like Convene (Enterprise Version) come with support and maintenance so you wouldn’t have to worry about setting up a technical support team from scratch.
Challenge 3: Security concerns
You can put sensitive documents in the safe and lock file cabinets, so it’s only natural that you want at least the same level of security for your digital data. But you’re worried about hackers exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems and files losing their integrity over the Internet. You’re also wondering how you can limit access rights to confidential information.
Approach: Board meeting apps targeted for the enterprise have security features to protect data, so ask your vendor about them. Convene, for example, has multiple authentication processes for both free and enterprise versions. For the enterprise version, you’ll also get additional features such as user management, password policy, audit trail, access right control, document encryption, network encryption and other mobile security controls. You can read more about these in the System Security Features specifications.
Challenge 4: Compatibility issues
People have different preferences in their smartphones’ and tablets’ operating systems: Windows, Android, or iOS. You’ll be surprised at how strongly they can feel about their OS of choice, so trying to convince them all to switch to another OS may prove to be futile. It’s important that you use a board meeting app that works for all three systems.
Approach: Look for boardroom software that runs on multiple platforms such as Windows, Android, and iOS. Convene has versions for all three systems that can work together in one meeting. An iPad user can attend the same meeting and collaborate on the same board portal with a Samsung Galaxy user, for example.
Challenge 5: File storage
Boards need to keep the files related to their meetings intact for future reference and for compliance with the law. Sometimes, these files need to be pulled up for legal purposes, so they should always be readily available.
Approach: Keep your files in the board portal for as long as the organization needs them. Board portals are made to support data retention policies on various documents, so this is one thing you wouldn’t have to worry about.
What other challenges can come with moving to a paperless boardroom? Share your own ideas with us in the comments.