British Gas has started using cloud-based software to give board members and administrators access to documents on mobile computing devices.
Over 70 members of the British Gas board and 12 administrators now use Diligent Boardbooks software.
Traditionally they would be sent hundreds of pages of documents by courier weeks before a meeting. But using Diligent Boardbooks, board members have a direct link to the latest version of information via an iPad, which links directly to the servers to access the data.
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Sam Weller, personal assistant to British Gas finance director Michael Uzielli, is one of the people responsible for putting together board papers. She said: “Using paper and email was clunky, and took up a lot of time.
“Nobody likes to carry so much paper around with them. The board packs were hefty, and some of the directors who sit on multiple boards had to attend meetings with armfuls of paper.
"We wanted to reduce the amount they had to carry, as well as making the process of preparing for board meetings more efficient.”
Weller said the process of transferring to Diligent was easy. “We stopped using paper packs one week, and started using Diligent the next. The move from paper to digital was really simple.”
Administrators now save hours of preparation before meetings and the technology has substantially reduced the costs associated with the paper and ink used to print thousands of pages of notes.
British Gas parent Centrica was already a user of the Diligent software.
Diligent said the arrival of the iPad was the moment Boardbooks software took off. Before that, laptops were used but they were not so effective, being more intrusive and requiring a powerpoint for each machine used in the boardroom.
Although Diligent is a US company, the information sits on servers in three datacentres in Canada. This addresses the fears of non-US companies over the Patriots Act, which allows the US government to access any data stored on US territory.
Diligent was a web design company in 2001, but when it was asked by a client to create a system that makes it easier to produce and deliver board papers, it helped create a cloud-based service.