QBIC's techno revolution


One of the smartest meeting management strategies yet seen in the bus industry was unveiled this week

QBIC's techno revolution
QBIC’s techno revolution

By David Goeldner | July 27, 2012

Here’s a smart way to save office paper, unchain your staff from the photocopier, make committee meetings run smoothly, and save money in the process – all courtesy of nine iPads and some out-of-the-box thinking.

The Queensland Bus Industry Council’s Executive Director David Tape leads a small team of just two dedicated employees, each tied up for numerous hours preparing monthly committee meeting notes, churning through reams of paper, standing by the office copier for long periods preparing for each meeting.

Tape says with the current phase of Queensland’s bus contract reform, his management committee needs to review an enormous amount of government documentation.

"One of our meetings earlier this year blew us away in the amount of pages and copying we had to produce," Tape says.

"We calculated 4,446 pages on the table, and at the end of the meeting, most of that paper was shredded."

He says as QBIC is a small team, and doesn’t match the financial capacity of southern state bus associations, it’s even more critical to consider office resources and administration costs.

"We need to be mean and lean about how we operate, and be mindful of what we spend our ‘dough’ on," Tape says.

Typically , QBIC’s documentation preparation runs to about four hours of labour for each meeting, and the amount of photocopy paper consumed equates to about 5.4 kilograms of oxygen.

Tape went searching for an alternative to photocopying nine sets of meeting notes for each management committee member, arriving at a technology solution after comparing laptops, tablets and iPads.

Laptop computers were deemed too large and bulky, tablets were considered, but Tape chose iPad V2 given this version was at the end of its production cycle, and he could obtain a set of nine iPads at a lower cost.

"With the cost of purchasing nine iPads we can break even after nine months, which means dollars back into the council and more services for our members," says Tape.

HOW IT WORKS

Tape’s office manager Karyn McCabe prepares the documentation, then passes the documents for committee review to administration assistant Rochelle ‘Shelley’ Wallace.

Instead of photocopying, Wallace powers up the iPads through iCloud and drops the electronically-transferred ‘soft’ documents into the system.

"It’s reduced Shelley’s meeting preparation time from around four hours to 20 minutes," Tape says.

"It takes staff away from a mundane, repetitive task to an electronically intuitive system."

Tape’s iPad ‘revolution’ was put to its first test across two days of committee meetings – July 24-25 – at QBIC’s Brisbane office.

"We were fortunate that most of our committee members are iPad savvy, but there were a couple who were hesitant," he says.

"Within a minute, Shelley and Karen showed members what to do, how to use the system, and from that point the meetings went like a charm.

"After our first meetings using iPads, I can say that this has been a great investment."

The QBIC management committee includes President Tony Hopkins of Greyhound Australia, Vice-President Rolf Mitchell of Hornibrook Buslines, and Treasurer Skye Naismith of Mt Gravatt Coaches, each seasoned and experienced bus operators.

"What they liked about it was the board room table wasn’t cluttered, the documents were easily accessed, you can expand and contract for easier viewing, and at the touch of a finger you can flick from one document to another, not having to move things around on a table – it all works seamlessly," Tape says.

Tape says as far as he is aware, bringing the iPads into a bus industry meeting environment has not been done in any other board room involving any of QBIC’s executive committee members.

"It’s definitely a first here in Queensland," he says.

"And you don’t need any specialist IT knowledge to get the iPad system working around the table.

"All we needed to do was to create an iTunes account, download the drop box, and ‘bingo’ – the documents are transferred."

Tape says his biggest ‘thrill’ from the initiative was implementing a system for QBIC staff based around modern technology.

"And there’s no waste."

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