Cloud In Action – The Board Meeting

Earlier this week I was in London for the monthly Board Meeting with my investors. As with any board meeting it was an opportunity to look back at the previous month and reassess our forecast for the coming quarters.

Traditional board meetings require each head of department – the Sales VP, the Marketing Director, the Head of HR to get their teams to frantically pull together a huge range of data to support the board meeting agenda. In the week before a board meeting you can hear people saying,

“Get your forecasts up to date”
“Make sure you have cleaned up your pipeline”
“Have you put in your holiday requests?”
“Calculate the ROI for the Exhibition”
“What is our current Cost of Serve?”

Once these tasks have been done then the PA’s or Office Managers get to work – frantically collating all the numbers into new Excels or some templated Word document. Perhaps the tables of numbers are copied into a 100 slide Powerpoint.

Your traditional board meeting starts and everyone around the table looks decidedly un-excited as the agenda starts and one by one the relevant department head starts walking through their section. The CEO tries to drill down into some of the numbers.

“It says £53,000 on Advertising and Marketing – what’s that made up of?”

Well the Marketing Director didn’t pull the numbers together so the response is “I’ll have to get back to you on that” or “I’ll go and find out now.”

Within 15 minutes the agenda is off track and what should have been a three hour meeting extends into the late afternoon with the final part of the agenda – perhaps the Customer Service Director – getting cut “We’ll look at yours next time.”

My company Board Meeting is different. Because all of our systems are Cloud based, and the processes have been set up to flow simply from one to another – from Marketing, to Sales, to Operations, to Support, to Accounts everything is already up to date and ready to drill into.

I popped my Macbook onto the desk, and plugged it into the Projector. I opened up Chrome and then four tabs – Gmail, Google Docs, Salesforce and Xero.

Every business system we use was now ready for us to drill into. There would be no slides. No pre-prepared material. The numbers on the screen were real time.

  • Leads per month
  • Campaign ROI
  • Sales Pipeline
  • Closed Sales
  • Closed Sales by Product Family
  • Top Open Opportunities
  • Support Cases by Priority

And when the question comes “What is that big deal there?” I just click on it and dive right into the details – client, products, value, Consultant.

When the question comes about who this Consultant is I just click on their name and open their Chatter profile with photo, background and recent posts.

It’s time to move onto the Accounts and so we switch over to Xero. We open up the dashboard showing the real-time cash situation in our accounts – updated directly with live bank feeds from HSBC. We then dive into the P&L. Some questions come about the detail of the Marketing spend, so I just click on the hyperlink and bring up the detailed transactions from the Marketing Chart of Accounts. Questions get answered immediately.

We worked through the different systems for around 90 minutes, every question asked was answered in detail and we have our targets and strategy for 2011. Not one Powerpoint Slide was harmed in the making of this Board Meeting.

Do you look forward to your Board Meetings? Do you stick to the agenda? Have you tried using live systems to run your meetings? We really appreciate your comments and input below.

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Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.