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CEO memo: Time to shake off the pre-pandemic paperwork shackles

By Megan Motto FGIA, CEO, Governance Institute of Australia

Well, it certainly looks like we have shaken off the locked down confines of the pandemic for good.

We are travelling enthusiastically to far flung locations, we are catching up in person for work events, we are jamming the harbourfront and CBDs to experience fabulous festivals — despite the bitterly cold winter — and we are socialising and planning ahead again with an almost feverish enthusiasm.

But this renewed energy and activity is also bringing challenges.

Many industries mothballed during the COVID lockdowns are struggling to get in their groove again due to staffing and other logistical challenges, compounded as the virus continues to linger, and supply chains are stretched due to extreme weather events and geopolitical issues.

And our patience with ‘the old way of doing things’ is starting to wear a little thin.

You may have seen reports of eager would-be travellers rushing to renew their passports, clutching their paper forms, only to be hit with long waiting periods as the old-style system buckled.

These paper-based systems — and the frustrations they are prompting — now sit in stark contrast to some of the great technological advances that were sparked by the pandemic (the introduction of virtual and hybrid AGMs and e-document execution some of the star players here).

As the cracks become more evident, placing a focus on digital has never been more important and part of shaking off the pandemic shackles must involve a digital refresh.

Ask: where is your organisation up to on its digital transformation journey, are you being innovative or just treating tech as BAU, what more needs to happen, and importantly are you being inclusive with your changes and updates, considering those who may not have easy access to tech or yet be across the latest advances?

And if a digital transformation is not yet on your radar, it needs to become a priority — urgently.

We will explore this further later this year in our major thought leadership work concentrating on technology and the board — stay tuned on that.

NSW is among the states pushing ahead with ditching the paperwork with some key, meaningful digitalisation measures flagged in recent times.

These include the introduction of a digital version of the ‘Blue Book’ for new parents, an analysis of the current digital identity services, and plans for a pilot of digital birth certificates.

Despite these updates, NSW Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government, Victor Dominello admits there is much more to be done and that governments and companies need to prioritise digital.

In recent commentary, the Minister said: ‘Every day I see examples of inefficient 20th century processes — that require a modern customer centric approach.’

Governance Institute has been very proud to be part of the push to digital and are long-term supporters of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program run by the ATO. We also advocated strongly for the permanent introduction of hybrid AGMs as an option for organisations.

But with the move to digital, it’s also essential to remember the ‘why’. And the why certainly shouldn’t just be about creating a shiny new platform or slick app for your phone.

Transformation must ultimately be about providing exceptional service and embedding a philosophy of streamlined excellence to make things better for your business and your stakeholders.

Technology is a major part of your customers’, shareholders’ and employees’ lives — and now is the time to ensure your organisation is keeping up.


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