Modernising board meetings: why education institutions should go paperless

Now is the perfect time for governing boards to update their processes and do away with paper meeting documents, says Alister Esam

By Guest on 07 May 2015
Modernising board meetings: why education institutions should go paperless

This article was first published in the Spring 2015 issue of OnWindows

Information is the lifeblood of a successful governing board. If the board are not aware of what’s going on, then they have a problem – a problem that could seep into classrooms and affect student performance.

To discover how education boards approach governance, we conducted a survey with those responsible for it in schools, colleges and universities, focusing on how meetings and risks are managed, and the role of technology in these activities. Despite the fact that 73% believe digitising governance activities will reduce costs, as many as 69% of respondents still print meeting documents. For those of us who work with technology, this seems a little crazy when you consider that board meeting papers are often 200+ pages long.

The good news is that technology is embedding itself in the working lives of those in education governance. Around 75% of respondents stated that they were using or considering cloud-based solutions. When it comes to sharing meeting documents, 84% use e-mail and 28% use file-sharing solutions such as OneDrive. Of those using cloud solutions, just over half have chosen Office 365.

An alternative to printing meeting papers is to view them on a tablet. Of the respondents, only 9% said they were part of a board where tablet usage was 75% or higher. But this figure is set to rise: 31% intend to use tablets within the next year.

Access to up-to-date information is vital for board members to make informed decisions. On tablets, sharing documents, annotation and maintaining a version history is much simpler than handling paper copies. This information can really enhance the quality of discourse in meetings. It can also help to mitigate risk.

Approximately two thirds of respondents said they manage identified risks through meetings. Businesses in the corporate world often use risk management software to keep track of their risk profile, but less than 10% of these education survey respondents do. Of course, the education budget doesn’t necessarily allow for investment in the same software as corporates, but there is still an opportunity for schools to make better use of technology for governance.

For those currently using Office 365, the BoardPacks 365 app is the easiest way to get boardroom software for governors without extravagant costs. And because your data is already stored in Microsoft’s cloud, there are no major implementation or infrastructure hurdles.

Alister Esam is founder of BoardPacks. To find out more about the company’s research and to read the full report, visit the BoardPacks website

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