My Board is NOT ready to go paperless! What would YOU do?

by Lisa Dubernard 2 Comments October 17, 2012

I’ve met many superintendents who really want to streamline costs and administrative workflow specifically in the area of paperless board meetings. But at the end of the day, many of them tell me.

You don’t understand. My board is not ready to go paperless.

I feel your pain.

And I’ve heard about many strategies that work and some that don’t so here are some ideas I’ve gathered from others.

Try to help board members see how a paperless agenda management system can help THEM.  (Have you heard about WIIFM? “What’s in it for me?”)

Board members are busy people and have a lot on their plates.  And they come from a variety of vocations and experiences.  Knowing that, let’s look at some simple questions about how things can work in a paper-based system versus a paperless system.  Perhaps this will help them understand.

Question 1: How do you currently get your board meeting packets?

Paper-based

In many cases, board meeting packets are mailed or couriered to the board member’s home or office.  In other cases some board members have to drive to the district office to pick them up.  These packets can sometimes include hundreds of pages of documentation for the board member to read in order to make decisions or take actions.  Often there are last minute changes or additions to the agenda and board members do not always have the latest version of the packets in time to have reviewed the materials in advance.  Finally some board members may have access to their packets prior to others which could potentially cause conflict.

Paperless

A paperless system like eBOARD would allow board members to get a simple notification on his/her computer that the packet is available and once they click on the link and log in, the board members have access to the entire agenda packet including any supporting document material (and confidential materials that the public could not see.)   If additional items are added, another notification can let them have access to those changes immediately.  And everyone has the same access at the same time!

Question 2: How do you take notes (prior to, during or after meetings)?

Paper based

Are you currently taking notes for the agenda item? Are they hand-written on the agenda items themselves?  If you want to access the notes later, how easy is it to find them? Did you even keep the packet?  How are they stored? Are your notes put on a yellow sticky note that may have fallen off somewhere?

Paperless

Many agenda automation systems allow you to take notes on the computer.  They stay with the agenda even after the meeting has passed.  You can take notes prior to, during or after the meeting.  They are personal notes and are only accessible by you when you log in.

Question 3: What do you do with old agenda packets?  What if you need information from a prior meeting?

Paper based

Some board members keep them all and file them at home.  Some toss them immediately or give them back to the board secretary.  If you want to know about an item from a prior meeting, you either have to look through the boxes or files or call the board secretary to look it up, make a copy and send it over.

Paperless

With paperless systems, you don’t have to worry about filing away paper documents.  And you can easily access old agenda items (ever prior to your coming on the board) by doing a simple keyword search.  You don’t ever need to know which meeting it was from!  Additionally you can see the minutes for each individual item and how the votes were recorded on that action.

So even after looking at the advantages of going paperless, what if the board members are still not ready to take the plunge.

Here are some other tips:

  • Consider going paperless for OTHER meetings first, then show the board how this has worked out.  Model for the board!
  • Hand hold those who need it.  My 80 year old father now has an iPad and can access e-mail and attachments.  It took baby steps over several months to make it happen, keep him happy and now he takes it with him everywhere!  The eBOARD iPad app is great for those who aren’t reading for a full computer!
  • Make them understand that if we expect 21st century learners, we must model this by our leadership team and that includes board members.
  • Let them know how much time and money is wasted in the organization by printing and creating meeting packets.  How much could be saved if ALL meeting packets were paperless (and not just board meetings.)

Here are some other resources that you may find helpful.  And I’d love your suggestions and tips!

Related blogs:

You can lead a horse to water (or you can give him an iPad.)

Should school boards model use of technology?

Case Study: Cost Savings and Efficiencies

Board member video advice

Categories: Cost Savings, Leadership, Meetings, Meetings Management, PaperlessTags: , , , , , , ,
2 Comments to “My Board is NOT ready to go paperless! What would YOU do?”
  1. avatar Sharon Horbyk says:

    I sometimes wonder if those who are slow to embrace technology in the board room ever stop and think about how much technology they use every day without giving it a second thought! Cars, cameras, cell phones, appliances, thermostats….and the list goes on! All these things use technology and have been made better because of it!

  2. Thanks, Sharon. I agree. For me, it’s the old technology that drives me crazy. Like juggling remote controls for cable, TV, DVD…!

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