Ask the Expert June 2014
Q: Three out of the 10 directors on our board still request paper board packs – can you suggest the best ways to persuade these directors of the advantages of the digital pack?
A: Firstly, I would say that your experience in this regard is common, particularly in Hong Kong. Individuals differ in their willingness to accept change and new things so expect that it will take time. In the meantime, you have at least already made a significant change for seven of your directors, as well as hopefully noticed efficiency gains within your company secretarial team.
There are a number of things you can do to encourage those final three directors to switch; the appropriate course of action will depend on those individuals and the working relationship that exists between them and you.
You could take a very passive approach and allow the positive experience of their fellow directors to encourage them over time. If each of the other directors is providing positive feedback and the meetings are running smoothly, then after a while they are likely to ask for their materials to be provided paperless. Another option would be to suggest that they use both the iPad and be provided with a paper copy for an interim period – that way, they can view the two side by side and get comfortable with an electronic board pack before officially moving over. It may also be possible to provide them with a hard deadline after which time, if they require a paper board pack, they or their secretary will be responsible for printing it.
The best way to encourage change, however, is to demonstrate how it will add value for each individual. Educate them on how the solution can benefit them.
- Prompt and efficient delivery of meeting materials. For directors who travel regularly or live between cities, electronic board packs allow them to receive materials as soon as they are ready. This allows more flexibility for directors to plan their meeting preparation time.
- Improved meeting productivity. Dedicated workflows and support for last-minute updates mean that directors always have the latest version to hand. They can view the particulars of the current meeting or quickly reference the relevant items from previous meetings.
- Go beyond board book access. Features beyond board book review and annotation include: e-signing consents, voting on resolutions or filling out self-assessments. This means the solution goes beyond simple book access to make all board processes paperless.
- Seamless offline and online access. Content autosyncs, therefore directors have ready access to their materials, whether online or offline. This includes not just documents, but also their private notes, approvals and surveys. Even annotations made offline, sync back to the server when the user is back online.
- Unlimited repository. Archive and reference materials such as the company’s memorandum and articles of association, annual budget and code of conduct can all be made available, meaning the portal can be used as a one-stop reference area for all information related to their directorship.
Erin Ruck, Regional Director
Tel: (852) 2108 4600