According to studies, meetings increase creativity and productivity. They have, however, the opposite effect when there are too many, scheduled at the wrong time or misdirected, and end up causing negative effects on the organisation.
Even though meetings are crucial to make decisions and develop plans and strategies, they are currently seen as a ‘necessary evil’ by many managers. Additionally, further research supports the idea that meetings can be a real time-waster for organisations. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) survey, that includes 182 senior managers from a range of different industries, reveals the following data:
65%of those surveyed claimed that meetings keep them from completing their own work;
71%of the senior managers said meetings are unproductive and inefficient;
64% reported that meetings come at the expense of deep thinking, and;
62%suggested that meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
Meetings have been increasing in number and duration in the last 50 years, to the point that executives dedicate an average of 23 hours a week to attend meetings, compared to the decade of the 60's, when they used to spend approximately 10 hours. The paradox shows that despite all the new technologies that are supposed to help reduce the duration of meetings, at present, managers spend even more time in meetings.
How can meetings time be reduced? To answer the question, we first need to analyse what are the main challenges for both organisers and attendees. The following two-parts analysis focuses on that aspect.
Challenges in meeting planning for organisers
The person in charge of the corporate meetings’ preparation can be the Corporate Secretary or an assistant. Their main challenges are as follows:
Preparation of big amounts of documents Any meeting usually involves the analysis of the documents, and most of the time, the amount of documents is not small. The meeting organisers have to deal with a certain amount of paper documents that are slow to handle and inconvenient.
Errors with the latest version of each document From time to time, the attendees send several versions of the same documents to the organiser, which can lead to a misunderstanding of which version of the document(s) to bring to the actual meeting.
Fear of information leakages During meetings the information that is handled is private, and exposure could lead to serious problems. The fear of information leakages by using email or paper support type of documentation is an important subject for the organiser.
Costs The actual cost of simply printing documents on paper can be very high, leading to tenths of thousand of dollars wasted by the company this way.
Extra hours Urgent meetings imply a fast preparation and having to print documents the evening before, taking up to many hours of extra work. It is a task that is probably not automatable for the organiser, and one has to print documents which a long and stressful process.
Challenges in meeting organising for attendees
On the other side of organising meetings are the attendees (i.e. the members of the Board of Directors or other Committees, and C-suite representatives, such as the CEO of the company). The main challenges that they face are:
Preparation of big amounts of documents Participants attending meetings need to read big amounts of documents while preparing for their meetings. Having these documents in a paper format can make the process slow and exhausting, especially when travelling from and to meeting locations.
Finding one’s own annotations Additionally to the first challenge explained above, finding one’s own annotations can be a time-consuming process. One has to turn pages, read comments and find what they are looking for. With a meeting management software, however, one can find what they are looking for almost instantly.
Finding the latest version of each document In a series of emails sent by the organiser, it could prove difficult to find the latest version of the document, which is necessary to prepare thoroughly for the meeting.
Fear of information leakages Similar to the organiser’s challenge, the attendee experiences the same fear of information leakages due to email or paper support. As the information that is handled during the meetings is private, this mishap can lead to serious implications for the company.
Not being able to follow the meeting agenda During meetings, at times some agendas are not really clear enough for the attendees to follow, especially if they include some documents with long titles, instead of points and subpoints.
Both organisers and attendees are experiencing challenges and are showing similar 'pains' that could be – totally or partially – solved by using a digital meeting management software.
Sherpany enables companies to optimise their meetings making them more secure and efficient by saving time for both parties involved in organising and attending meetings. Through its software – Sherpany Boardroom – the Swiss company tackles the challenges presented by supporting in the:
Preparation of big amounts of documents All the documents are available in a secure App – running on iPad and iPhone devices, Windows tablets, and on the web environment. It is possible to read the documents and take notes on the iPad or on any Windows tablet, regardless of the amount of documents. The App facilitates the process making it faster and easier.
Finding one’s own annotations With Sherpany Boardroom, finding any project or topic-related documents is extremely easy thanks to the full text search functionality. Everything is done online without the need to turn pages or reread all the notes.
Finding the latest version of each document The documents uploaded by the organiser of the meeting are always the latest version. So, the misunderstanding between different versions is avoided.
Overcoming the fear of information leakages Sherpany Boardroom is a highly secure meeting management software. Access to the App is restricted, and each user has a unique password, and a SMS code they receive only once each time they log in. Additionally, the meeting organisers can define different levels of document security, for different users. A proper usage of the software ensures that information leakages due to loss of documents is significantly reduced.
Inability to follow the meeting’s agenda All agenda items and documents are clear and all attendees can follow them.
Reducing of costs Since Sherpany Boardroom is digital meeting management tool that works online, all paper and material-related costs are reduced to zero.
Diminishing of extra hours of work spent The extra hours spent preparing the meeting, especially printing the documents, are shortened since the documents are all online.
To put all this into perspective, we’ll use the HBR calculator for meetings. With its help, and based on our own experience, we’ll present a series of financial results of how cost efficient meetings using Sherpany Boardroom can be compared to how costly meetings can get without the Boardroom App.
Cost of a meeting =
pro rata of the salary of the attendees (1 hour of meeting for 8 attendees with a yearly salary of €120K) + time to get to the meeting (or travel costs, 10 minutes) + cost of the material for the meeting (paper, pens etc.) + not included because of difficult valuation: (1) cost of not making a decision in the meeting + (2) collateral/opportunity cost of the meeting
Sherpany Boardroom saves your company approximately 8’000 Euro a year.
The meeting management software not only reduces the costs of meetings, but it also significantly saves time for both the attendees and organisers of a meeting, it elevates the security of the meetings to a top-notch level for a secure management of private data, and it fosters decision-making in a smooth environment.
In today’s era of digital transformation, where companies stop using paper and physical support, and start using more digital solutions to optimise all processes, meetings can also be optimised.
How can the challenges be tackled and when to do it?
Based on our experience and our clients’ experience as well, implementing a digital management meeting tool helps save time and be more efficient. If you want to know more about overcoming the challenges of digitisation of your meetings, let’s have a talk.
Toni Ventura has a vast experience in consulting and client relations having lived and worked in four different countries. He joined Sherpany as a Customer Success Manager for the Italian, Spanish and French-speaking markets. His focus is on ways to add value to customers with every interaction, and increase efficiency, since "understanding the customers' processes and pain points lets us improve the dynamics of the meeting management, and eventually, makes the customer's life easier" .