This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
Agenda-led meetings remain a fundamental aspect of day-to-day business in the education sector. However, it is a format that has remained completely unchanged for years; in the majority of cases, users still conduct their meetings using hundreds of pages of paper.
In an era of smart devices, there is no excuse for such outdated processes. Paper is inefficient and inconvenient. It takes time to compile, print, copy and collate, and then in the meeting people end up spending more time verifying the information to hand, rather than discussing and making strategic decisions.
Some educational institutions have attempted to remove the paper burden by opting for electronic document transmission, e-mailing governing boards PDFs of the meeting papers. But this is actually a retrograde step and does not meet the data protection and security requirements of most educational institutions. Furthermore, senior management are forced to download various third-party annotative tools in order to make comments on the papers.
Instead, users and partners within the public sector need to build on technologies they have previously invested in, and combine them with new tools such as meeting management apps.
The BoardPacks 365 app from eShare harnesses the power of mobile devices and links with systems such as Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint – tools which many organisations already use daily. Users can access and share Microsoft documents easily, and edit them while retaining version control. They can also look at past or present information with a single touch, take part in group discussions or decisions, and keep an eye on the organisation’s risk profile in real time, rather than carrying heavy paper packs or trying to use PDFs that they can’t edit.
During meetings, users can access everything they need from a tablet, including voting tools and documents, saving them from having to shuffle through a pile of papers, or find an e-mail with the relevant documents. And, with one-click document distribution, not only can the organisation drastically reduce paper, print and collation costs, but users can make last-minute changes, upload and advise members and, once refreshed, they can instantly review the latest version. There is no need for reprinting or redistribution.
Given the pressure on educational institutions to modernise their processes and cut costs, perhaps it’s time for them to do their homework on paperless meetings and lead from the top.
Alister Esam is founder of BoardPacks
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