CU Board Goes Green

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich.-Board members at OMNI Community CU have ditched paper-based board packets in favor of Apple's iPads.

"When the iPads came out we bought a couple with our executive team and we started experimenting with them," CEO Tom Parsons explained. "[The board] had been talking about going to laptops for meetings so we were looking to this as a solution to get away from paper packets."

Parsons understands first-hand the difficulty of juggling huge paper packets; the $250-million OMNI Community CU has ownership in several CUSOs, so Parsons is a frequent attendee at numerous board meetings. With the help of several third-party applications, the iPads have become an important tool for the credit union's executive team and a way to keep board members constantly in touch with one another, he said. Parsons pointed out that only five of the CU's eight board members have e-mail addresses, making communications very difficult, but a new portal changes that dynamic.

In addition to installing the Good Reader app to help users pinpoint pages in large documents, OCCU installed a portal that gives the board the opportunity to download the packets in advance, look over the policy book, and strike up conversations on the board-only forum.

At $600 each, the iPads were expensive, but Parsons noted that the credit union is saving $250 in printing and postage costs every month. At that rate the iPads will pay for themselves in about a year and a half. With strong security features, lightweight design, crystal clear screen and intuitive interface, Parsons believes that the iPad can play an increased role in the business world

"I can envision having our commercial lending manager having one in the field when he's meeting with a client," he said.

The one major drawback, he added, is the reliance on third-party applications. Hunting around for the right app to "do what we want them to do" can be taxing. The apps must be downloaded from Apple's iTunes store.

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