Pan American Bank, from Melrose, Illinois, was seeking an easy to use and intuitive replacement for paper bound board books. After discovering Passageways, they elected to adopt OnBoard in May, 2014. Their experience is one of our favorite examples of how OnBoard can transform your boardroom. We spoke with Randy Blackburn, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, about Pan American Bank’s experience. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity and length.
Passageways: Let me say congratulations at your successful launch of OnBoard and your implementation. I’d like to start back at the beginning, how did you first hear about Passageways?
Randy Blackburn: We were at a conference and we had been looking for some type of portal to run our board meetings, it was part of a strategic plan to automate our board meeting process. So we did a lot of research and you happened to be at the same conference we were at, talked with you guys and then did a bunch of research on y’all, set up a meeting and a demo and the next thing I knew you guys were the best solution.
“[OnBoard] improved the quality of our work life. That’s it right there, that’s what we loved.”
Can you share what you liked most about OnBoard?
Randy Blackburn: The thing I love most about OnBoard, and I am going to use the word love, and until you experience it you just wouldn’t know this: at the first meeting we had, the experience was not of that of a technology, the experience was a board meeting. Directors didn’t even realize that we didn’t have to put any effort into learning your software, even administrators put very little effort into learning. We were just like Holy Cow, everybody’s already got their meeting set up. It just started happening. The magic of it is that you don’t even realize you were using technology. It’s the workflow, it’s how you work, it’s how you have a meeting, and compared to all the paper preparation that went on beforehand that was just an added bonus. It just worked; very little effort went into it.
You know a lot of people will say it saved so many dollars, or so many trees, or that it made us more secure; well none of that matters if you have a technology that is really complicated for people to understand. It’s improved the quality of our work life. That’s it right there, that’s what we loved.
If there’s one thing we should never stop doing, what would that be?
Randy Blackburn: Reaching out to your customers the way that you do through PowWOW [editors note: PowWOW is our annual conference]. I went to PowWOW before we signed with you, that experience of reaching out to your customers to be better, that’s what you don’t want to stop doing. When customers can communicate to you in a way that allows them to suggest features for your product, so many software companies I talk to will simply respond with “of course that’s in development.’ Then you ask about it two years later and they respond with the exact same excuse. What you guys do, is that you have a way of getting this information from your customers and then acting on it. Constantly getting input from your customers and constantly improving yourself. You know, that’s how you become successful, quality control and always looking at your processes. Don’t stop doing that!
“For our business requirements it was about ease of use, security, and cost, and all three of those considerations working together. When I stacked you up against your competitors, you guys came out on top at all three categories. And not just by a little bit, but by a lot.”
When you were thinking about coming to Passageways and considering other possible providers, why did you choose us over other options?
Randy Blackburn: For our business requirements it was about ease of use, security, and cost, and all three of those considerations working together. When I stacked you up against your competitors, you guys came out on top at all three categories. And not just by a little bit, but by a lot. It was cost, security, and ease of use. I can sum up our decision to get OnBoard in one phrase: functional for use, quality at the lowest cost. That’s the bottom line for us right there.
How has OnBoard met or exceeded your expectations?
Randy Blackburn: You exceeded my expectations around cost. You exceeded my expectations around security. It all comes down to this, you are able to pick it up to have a meeting and you don’t even realize all the technology that went into making this so easy.
After implementation, can you share any sort of feedback you got from your directors and your executive team?
Randy Blackburn: What was interesting was that they just picked it up and started using it. Their expectation was that it would just work. They loved not having to use the paper; they loved having all the updated material ahead of time. What was most interesting of all, and this is how you know your technology works: you just pick it up without having to do anything and it just works. It’s like a telephone; you kind of take it granted. And that’s what they did; they just kind of took it for granted. Functional for use.
“They loved not having to use the paper; they loved having all the updated material ahead of time. What was most interesting of all, and this is how you know your technology works: you just pick it up without having to do anything and it just works.”
What’s your plan for expanding your use of OnBoard in the future?
Randy Blackburn: Any time we can have a meeting with it, we will use it. We also used it, I’ll give you an example, this is what you take for granted: we just acquired a bank, and only had only one machine with internet access. And it was a machine with only an AOL account, and we just hate emailing to an AOL account, even if we encrypt the mail. What we did was we set up a meeting and we gave them permission on OnBoard to get into the meeting and they can now just dump those files into the meeting and we can collaborate through it. It’s how I know that it will be secure. It really helped us out in a sticky situation.
Do you have any advice for groups just getting started?
Randy Blackburn: Be creative with it. Don’t be afraid of it. Really think about your organization and match OnBoard to your organization, don’t follow traditional IT rules, map OnBoard to the structure of your organization. It’s really not an IT thing; it’s that easy to use.
Thank you so much, Randy. It’s always a pleasure to talk with you about Pan American’s experience. We are definitely going to have you at PowWOW next May.
About The Author
- Passageways builds collaboration software that helps people do meaningful work, from the board of directors through to the team and people who do today’s indispensable work. OnBoard is a board governance solution, designed to improve collaboration for directors and administrators throughout the complete meeting life cycle. OnSemble's an Employee Intranet that connects an entire workplace to one central collaboration hub, builds your culture, and inspires employee engagement.
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