June - Club Victoria Inc.
iPads in theBoardroomcould save you money & timeBy Steve BowmanOne of the most common concerns of Boards is how to maketheir meetings more productive, strategic and create trueengagement of the Board and senior executive leadershipteam. One of the outcomes of this concern is the growing trend inrecent years toward the use of web-based portals to make it easierto deliver information to board members prior to meetings andin-between.With the iPad leading as the hot new gadget of choice for corporatedirectors, boards are starting to take notice. Some NFPs arebeginning to provide iPads for board members to use during boardmeetings in lieu of paper packets in an effort to improve efficiencyand reduce the time and cost of preparing board materials.We recently conducted a survey of NFP CEOs and board directorsto determine where they currently stand on the e-governancecurve; and in particular, what they think about using iPads in theboardroom. The survey focused on gauging the current level ofinterest in using iPads for governance work, and seeking advicefrom nonprofit executives and directors on the best practices forsuccessful implementation. The key observations made from therespondents’ feedback are listed below.1. The iPad is a hot topic in nonprofit boardrooms.While only a small percentage of nonprofits are already providingiPads for their directors, over 90% of respondents were consideringimplementing iPads at some point in the near future. 39% reportedthat some board members already bring iPads to meetings insteadof the paper packet.There are several ways that iPads are introduced into theboardroom. The first is by directors bringing their own iPad intoa board meeting and other directors taking an interest in how it isbeing used. The second is by the executive team using the iPad andagain the directors are drawn to the possibilities. The third is thedrive towards more “green” solutions that also provide streamlinedmanagement of board information. The research indicates that amixture of all three strategies could be successful for organizationsconsidering moving in this direction.2. Security and usability top the list of directors’ concerns.Even though the popularity of e-governance has been on the riseacross the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, respondents voicedconcerns about their board’s ability to adopt technology. Severalreported that they met with resistance from CEOs and other boardmembers when they raised the issue at meetings, while otherscommented that their board is too “old school” at this point tostop their reliance on paper packets.Those who have implemented e-governance strongly recommendthat each board member have a password/pin on their iPad incombination with data encryption and password-protection on themeeting packets that are downloaded to the device. The concernthat an iPad would be lost or stolen and sensitive board informationbreached is a valid one, and so ensuring your e-governance systemoffers adequate security protection, in combination with directortraining, is paramount.By Steven Bowman3. The iPad gets high marks for its usefulness in theboardroom, but directors comment on the device’slimitations.Directors are using the iPad to meet a variety of needs in theboardroom, including: delivering the board meeting packet; markingup documents and writing notes in preparation for meetings;running slide presentations during the meeting; handwriting andtyping notes at the meeting; and recording, editing, and sending theminutes.Board members have commented that the iPad is less obtrusive thanlaptops because of its flexible design, and creates less of a barrierbetween the user and the rest of the group at a meeting. Overall,directors reported that while the device offers dozens of Apps thatrelated to board governance, the device itself has limitations. Keylimitations mentioned include: the lack of a hard drive and thenecessity of using apps to store files; only being able to view onepage of a document at a time; and the lack of a precise stylus andkeyboard for fine control/writing on the screen.4. Increased efficiency, labour and time-savings are thegreatest benefits to using the iPad in the boardroom.Directors reported that they are able to increased efficiency greatlyby using the iPad. From preparing for meetings by reading andmarking up board packets on the screen, to recording and sendingthe minutes the instant the meeting ends, the device gets highmarks from directors at increasing efficiency. Those organizationsthat have analysed the payback period before investing in iPads findthat the purchase pays for itself in terms of paper/printing costs,postage, and staff time within 4-6 months of usage.5. Ensuring each director has a device and providingadequate training is critical to success.While the number of nonprofits investing in tablet devices fordirectors is still small, the idea is growing in popularity. Nonprofitsare taking a variety of approaches to ensure each director has adevice available at board meetings: some have purchased an iPadfor each director as a gift; others purchase a stack of iPads thatthey make available in the boardroom for each participant; someask directors bring any device they already use and then provide“loaners” just for those who do not already own a device. Providingthe same device for each director has the advantage of lowering thevariables – making technical support and training much easier.Steve Bowman is a specialist in helping Boards maximise theirpotential and can help clubs improve their governance processes.Steve can be contacted on 9509 9529 oremail: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out hiscomprehensive website www.conscious-governance.com8 CLUBConnect May/June 2013
Saints still marchingafter 140 years