Director's plea to go paperless as he faces another flight | Aprio

Director’s plea to go paperless as he faces another flight and pounds of paper

Aprio’s founder and board director, John Kidder, joins us for this guest post.

I’m retired now but every time I pull out a suitcase I get board meeting travel flashbacks. Talking to directors in airports, it seems the drill hasn’t yet changed much, at least not yet.

Here’s the day-in-the-life that I remember…

It’s 5:30 a.m. in Vancouver, pouring rain outside, and I’m racing to prep for travel across the country to take part in yet another board meeting. I’ve got 15 minutes to face off with the paper materials I must carry on, given showing up prepared to meetings is sort of rule one of governance these days, and I only received the documents yesterday.

The couriered package was meant to arrive to me three days ago, but went to an old office address. When the delivery guy finally found the right location yesterday, he looked visibly relieved to unload the goods, grab my signature, and head out of my office still panting a little. Just like a typical board binder kit, the package weighs more than three pounds (that’s 1.3 kilos) comprised of a large plastic envelope, a large hard plastic folder containing a slightly smaller paper binder containing reams of beautiful glossy paper with various financial statements, annual reports, and other board committee materials.

Having worked late last night to make time for today’s travel, I’m now racing the clock before my flight to pack all the board materials into my shoulder bag. That means that my bag, which also contains my laptop, cellphone, Economist magazine, sandwich, wallet, etc. must make room for multiple pounds of more bulky cargo.

Anyone who doesn’t have the luxury of a board that’s gone paperless knows this drill.

First, there’s the throw away stage (don’t let the kids watch or you’ll be Mr. Planet Killer from now on). Toss the non-recyclable folder and binder into the garbage. Sort through the paper and toss into recycling anything non vital like the four pages of telling me how to connect to the Internet at the hotel meeting location (printed one-sided).

Then, because there have been three urgent updates sent from the CFO and finance and audit committee since the courier’s been roaming around, there’s the digital ninja stage. Scour through my inbox for multiple versions of documents sent by multiple people, and some of them from multiple email addresses. Frantically download them to my laptop, knowing there’s a risk in my rush that I’ll review on the plane financials that still aren’t the latest. (The cab I ordered is now honking from the curb out front.)

Sound familiar? Sure, a director can get used to being vaguely sweaty every time he hits the airport security line, but why?

If not after this meeting then after the company’s AGM, the brilliant and hard-working corporate secretary will probably send me a survey asking for my feedback. Like every board I belong to here’s what I’ll say: please go paperless.

Give me meeting materials 100 per cent digitally, in a centralized, sorted place that gives me access online or offline, from my laptop or tablet, and anywhere in the world that there’s Internet connectivity. If there’s a version update – ditch the old one and give me only the new, all without causing me email havoc.

Some people less comfortable with technology may want the option of being sent the paper. But for the sake of every organization’s printing and courier budget, the environment, and to give timesaving convenience to directors, executives, corporate secretaries, and administrators, please don’t send paper as the default case.

Save your organization time and money, save trees, and save fuel. Consider board portal software like Aprio.

About the Author – John Kidder, Aprio Founder and Director

I founded Aprio to solve the problems I saw during 25 years on public and private boards where inefficient information sharing and reporting on boards caused poor decision-making and wasted people’s time and money with paper-based traditional processes. I saw a need for a quality information system to make good governance simple and affordable for businesses and organizations of any size. Today, I am delighted that our software supports transparent, efficient decisions, and well-run meetings of boards of all kinds – public, private, non-profit and associations. I’m also proud that Aprio is known for the best customer experience in the business.

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