About a year and a half ago, Ann Ellis and the staff at North Star Electric Co-op of Baudette, Minn., decided to take their board meeting books digital. Instead of creating 100-page booklets that had to be mailed out, the board members used laptops to access emailed versions of the board books.
The digital transition did not meet the expectations of one board member.
“It was probably a good step, because they got into the digital age, but we had one board member that turned in his laptop,” said Ellis, Finance Manager for North Star. “So, we had to continue to make one board packet and mail it.”
Fast forward to January of 2013, and the North Star board members were met with something a little different upon entering the meeting, iPads loaded with NISC’s CalltoOrderTM app. Only one North Star board member had even touched an iPad, but after a training session and a little time with the CalltoOrder app, they were off and running.
“The board member that turned in his laptop said ‘oh, I think I can do this.’ So that was a huge hurdle we got past,” Ellis said.
The immediate benefits of CalltoOrder for the board members are fairly obvious, but there are some long-lasting effects that will make the app useful between meetings. Rather than keeping a shelf full of board books from months past, board members can consult the app for past meeting minutes.
“If a member calls one of our board members and complains about the reconnect policy, he can look at the reconnect policy to see what it really says,” Ellis said. “It puts all the resources that they need in a one-stop shop, instead of three-ring binders.”
CalltoOrder has made an impact on Ellis and the North Star staff as well. Eliminating the need for photocopying and mailing board books for each meeting, Ellis’ preparation time for each meeting is drastically reduced. She can also keep North Star’s legal advisor updated on the latest policies and meeting minutes just by updating the app.
“It’s just so easy,” Ellis said. “We think back to the days when we had a 100-page board packet that we’d have to photocopy and bind. We’d have to wait until everything was ready to (create the books) and last-minute things were a pain. Now, bit-by-bit it goes out there. I think what I like most of all is that it’s going to be so easy for the board members to use.”
Getting acclimated to using a tablet computer does take a little bit of time, which is something Ellis and North Star are very aware of, urging their board members to call for help with anything.
“We encourage them at every turn to call us,” Ellis said. “If you have any questions, just give us a call. It does take time getting used to the application and getting used to your finger being the mouse. We just want to be very encouraging, because I think once they catch on, they’re going to find out how nice it is.”