Congratulations on your decision to go paper free for your meetings (if you’ve got the ball rolling, why not go sustainable for all your office functions?). Either way, you still have some tough questions to face and we’re going to help with that.
There’s plenty of virtual meeting software and agenda buildup software out there. The market is flush with everything from video conferencing to scheduling, agenda management tools, to full meeting administration support. Some of them might be simply convenient while others could give you a substantial business advantage.
So the question of which software product and service to buy poses a broader set of benefits than you may have been aware.
It Really is About Business Performance
For a business of 50 to 500 employees, you’ll want to look at how your software choices improve bottom line business performance.
You might have assumed that the only benefit online meeting software could provide is savings on printed paper. Yes, the cut in print, photocopying, and paper expenses will look nicely on your balance sheets, but the benefit of meeting software goes way beyond. To get that benefit, you’ll have to ask the right questions. Experts will often tell you, that the secret to executive wisdom is the ability to ask the right questions.
So, on that note, let’s look at what your priorities and inquiries should be as you try to pick out an online meeting software package to support your board meetings or other assemblies and workgroups that you need to optimize.
See our industry whitepapers for municipalities or post secondary schools.
Let’s break it down to 8 key areas you need to assess:
- Cost savings
- Board functions
- Business process improvement
- Agenda and workflow management
- Security and error-free operation
- Technological compatibility and power
1. Administration. Your meeting software needs to be powerful and easy for your administrator and Director/Meeting manager to use. Administrators want full life-cycle meeting and action management.
They want desktop control for easily creating meetings, setting and revising agendas, customizing meeting templates, scheduling, and using full legislative meeting support which includes roll call, resolutions, pecuniary interest and additions/deletions.
Directors want reliable virtual connections, up to date agendas, follow up action items effectively, see archive or other relevant information, and to publish minutes to the web quickly.
2. Cost Savings. Going paperless can save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in reduced print costs, paper costs, staff time, and less efficient meetings.
You’ll need to weigh the productivity gains, cost-decreases against its IT costs. Would you rather rent an online version or have it hosted on your servers?
The upfront costs are different as are the maintenance expenses.
3. User-friendliness. Meeting attendees are very important. The ease and functionality of the user interface and their ability to take notes and participate will tell a lot about how successful your meetings will be.
Your software should create a content-rich meeting experience and eliminate their frustrations.
4. Board Functions. For school boards and corporate boards, agendas need to be viewed, items voted on and tasks set in real time.
These need to be done securely and often privately. A reliable software with industrial strength secure access is what’s needed.
5. Business Process Improvement. The other side of the cost savings coin is business enhancement. Your software should not only automate workflow but optimize it and add value to how your staff works.
Your meetings launch and guide business objectives so why shouldn’t your software help that along? A less sophisticated software might be disappointing and thwart a lot of business value.
6. Agenda and Workflow Management. The automation process lets your director and meeting administrator prepare, conduct, and follow-up on meeting resolutions and actions.
When your software integrates with Outlook, your server platform, and the digital devices members use, you can get a lot more work done and have more efficient meetings.
7. Security and Error-free Operation. Obviously well-designed, bug free software isn’t going to be cheap. Good software is very sophisticated and has to keep hackers out when you’re online.
Today with the rise of cloud-computing and cloud-hosting, the threat is increased. Make sure your software is credible.
8.Technological Compatibility and Power. It’s not enough that it works. It has to work on your PC, laptop and iPad.
Meeting attendees want to use their iPad and take notes, vote, and view meeting proceedings clearly.
Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint are the most common systems your software needs to be compatible with – secure scalable, and familiar.
Now You Can Ask Some Tough Questions
Your concerns in the C-suite might differ from your IT manager or meeting administrator, but if you have the right questions, you’ll be able to find the best meeting software possible for all 3 of you.
Prioritize your requirements and soon the best product will become apparent. You’ve made a wise decision to go paperless. Good luck on getting the maximum functionality, financial benefit and business results from your new system.