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By Jocelyne Hébert
Does every meeting you attend feel just like the last? With every one, you have tons of documents on your desk to print, haul and sift through — and that’s just for briefing. Well, this isn’t the case if you happen to sit on one of the OIQ’s (Québec’s Order of Engineers) Regional Committees
Indeed, since their inception about a year ago, the OIQ’s eight Regional Committees organize and hold paperless meetings, which means that all documents — from the agenda to the minutes and all types of briefing papers — are electronic.
Goodbye fuzzy note-taking and never-ending searches, and hello paperless meetings that relieve busy volunteer regional committee members from tedious and time-consuming chores. Yes, their boardroom has entered the digital era. Has yours?
“We’ve developed an incredibly user-friendly governance method,” explains Jean-Marc Félio, CEO and founder of Leading Boards (leadingboards.com), one of a handful Québec-based companies to offer such a service, and supplier to the OIQ’s Regional Committees. “Everyone benefits from using our solution, whether they are tech-savvy or not. A 30-minute tutorial is all it takes to know how to use it, and you can learn to manage it in about an hour.”
Félio created Leading Boards in 2008 to help a few non-profit organizations (NPOs) improve the efficiency of their board meetings. However, this entrepreneur quickly realized there was a strong demand for such a solution in both the public and private sectors.
Since then, Félio has endeavoured to understand the many needs of his clients in order to create a finely-tuned service that can be used by executive boards, committees and any other kind of team or taskforce. The Leading Boards platform currently works on both iPad and Android tablets.
In a few clicks within their Leading Boards account, managers can set up a meeting, send relevant documents, confirm quorum, add last-minute information and access information on past meetings. For their part, attendees can, at any time and from anywhere, view and annotate documents, share notes with other members, conduct advanced searches and more. In short, they are briefed in an enjoyable, proactive and engaging way.
Secure information sharing is a critical characteristic of a service like Leading Boards. “The computer systems of typical organizations cannot guarantee absolute security, and so they first come to us to remove that risk,” Félio explains. “We took full advantage of iPad technology to give our clientele a security standard that is on par with that of banks.” As such, regional committees can count on:
Highly-secured servers located in Canada
Daily security tests performed by Qualys Secure
Fully-encrypted data, both online and offline
Very strong passwords
Regional committees are far from the only organization that puts its trust in this cutting-edge service. The Leading Boards client list is constantly growing, and presently includes the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Petrolia, Eurotunnel, St. Hubert, Halifax International Airport, Atlantic Central Credit Unions, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, the Commission de la construction du Québec and many more private companies, co-ops and public organizations.
“The Leading Boards technology suits our needs perfectly,” says Gilbert Nkurunziza, an engineer and a member of the Eastern Townships Regional Committee, where he is tasked with promoting the engineering profession. “I knew about the mechanics of [file-sharing systems like] DropBox, but the Leading Boards platform is far more advanced and complete. We want to print as little paper as possible for our meetings. With Leading Boards, we have a site where we can upload all our documents, but we can do so much more: store our data safely, post pictures of the Committee members, and even network with members of other regional committees.”
There are currently four areas of the Leading Boards platform that Nkurunziza uses when he prepares a meeting. The Home section features the latest news from the order, such as upcoming activities and committee mandates. The meeting section contains agendas and related documentation. In Documentation, he and his colleagues store and access things like committee business plans, guides, forms and newsletters. Finally, the Tools section is loaded with survey results and much more.
“This site enables me to easily find what I need,” Nkurunziza says. “I’m especially happy to always have access to the latest updated documents and to be able to track our meetings consistently. These are nice surprises.” He considers Leading Boards to be a highly-efficient communication tool. He ponders, “Currently, the committee members are logged in as users. Could they receive training so they can manage it as well, that is, to add or modify information? That’s food for thought…”
Leading Boards is very simple to use, and anyone can do it, even people who are not so familiar with computers, according to junior engineer Jean-Luc Joyal, member of the Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec Regional Committee.
Starting in Cegep and throughout university, Joyal got involved in several committees and working groups, with meetings where he and others drowned in paper. “Even if meeting reports are sometimes sent electronically, most documents are still printed,” he remembers. “So it’s a real treat to work with Leading Boards”
Joyal says meetings are far more productive now. “For example, if we suddenly need to look at a financial report, we’ll find it in the Documentation section. With the information in hand, we can modify our documents in real time, instead of scribbling notes on a piece of paper and running the risk of forgetting some details. There’s an issue with the budget? We change it on the spot.” He concludes, “Not only does this tool answer many of our needs, it also susbstantially reduces the volume of documents to print, something that is environmentally sound and very important to me.”