A while back, when we offered you our six best app ideas to boost your business, we stayed out of the boardroom. However, with mobile devices becoming more pervasive, board members becoming more distributed and the security concerns mounting, we think the time is right to talk about board meeting apps.
What is a board meeting app?
Board meeting apps essentially replace your paper boardbook – bulky, difficult to update, expensive to print – with an interactive electronic version that you can tote round on your iPad. They usually include functionality that will help secretarial staff collate and distribute documents electronically and securely to board members, including late papers and updates.
Many also include meeting planning functionality to help with scheduling the meeting itself and – perhaps most importantly – functionality to make sure that all attendees can view, present and annotate different documents in concert. Typically, the app itself is free to download, but you’ll need to pay an annual for the back end of the solution – the bit that makes it all work and keeps your information secure. Some will break this down on their iTunes page, but many companies will provide you with pricing on a case-by-case basis.
What’s the advantage of dedicated apps over free ones like GoodReader?
While some companies do arrange meetings using free apps like GoodReader, we advise against it for all but the most basic meetings. GoodReader is, as Mashable says, “a Swiss army knife of awesome” (and a former Jigsaw24 app of the week), but it doesn’t have calendaring functionality and isn’t designed for collaborative working. Yes, you’ll have an electronic version of your boardbook, but you won’t be able to share your annotations in realtime, or edit documents while presenting.
The advantage of a dedicated app is that it combines the capabilities of document readers, calendars, content sharing sites like Dropbox and presentation tools into a single system, then adds useful touches like the ability to lock users to specific pages or documents while you’re presenting on them.
What are the business benefits of a board meeting app?
Let’s start with the obvious: you save a lot of money on printing and delivery/couriering for your books. One of our customers, investment company NorthEdge, are on track to save £300 a week on printing after switching their staff to iPad – that means an iPad pays for itself every week.
At the same time, the fact that you’re dealing with electronic documents that are being shared over a secure connection should improve your data security. Granted, there are people out there with the skills to hack into your VPN, but there are far more who are capable of intercepting a physical document, and the collate-print-bind process offers plenty of opportunity for your data to fall into the hands of third parties. Plus, once the information is on your iPad, it’s protected by industry-leading device security, and can be remotely wiped should anything go wrong.
Dedicated board meeting apps also facilitate clearer, easier communication. Your secretarial staff can edit, upload and distribute boardbooks with a swipe, sending them out along with key meeting info and, in some cases, using the same interface to send follow-up information and minutes post-meeting.
We’re so impressed by the amount of time having all these processes integrated saves that we’re integrating similar functionality into our free b7 app, which allows directors to pre-define goals and talking points for each meeting they take. Sales staff can then log notes against each one and then share automatically generated minutes with the customer and head office.
And it’s not just before and after the meeting that these apps are useful. The ability to lock screens means you can keep everyone on the right page, even if key stakeholders are attending remotely, so it’s easier to keep everyone on track. Collaborative tools and shared annotations are going to make it easier for you to work together within the meeting, so you can achieve more in the time you have.
What are your options?
There are plenty out there, and we definitely recommend scoping out a few before making your final decision. Here are a few to get you started…
BoardPad (ICSA Software, free but requires a subscription)
Possibly the best known solution in the UK at this point, BoardPad supports iOS and Windows 8 devices, and combines in-meeting annotation and presentation functions with its own Connect platform for organising meetings (this is fairly impressive in its own right). We particularly like the fact that you can create ‘secure reading rooms’ for different groups of users and give different users different permissions when it comes to opening, printing and emailing the documents within them. Its proven track record with the FTSE100 set doesn’t hurt, either.
Anywhere Pad (Azeus Systems Holdings, free but requires a subscription)
This promising app has only just reached the UK but has been enjoying success in its native South East Asia for a while now. It supports an impressive array of devices and platforms (though users on some devices can only attend meetings, not present in them), and we particularly like the simple drag-and-drop interface secretarial staff can use to build meeting packs. It integrates with SharePoint, Box and Dropbox too, so you can submit documents using your usual process.
iqBoard (IQ Group, pricing variable)
For those of you who want something a little less off the shelf, iqBoard is a SharePoint add-on developed by Australian financial experts IQ Group. They’ll tweak the functionality and appearance of the app to suit your meeting style, and as it’s SharePoint-based it shouldn’t struggle to integrate with your existing systems. However, your data is hosted in iqCloud, a cloud storage service based in Australia – a real stumbling block if you have restrictions on where your data can be held.
Want to know more about how iPad could help your business? Give our team a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.