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Case Study: How Govenda Uses PSPDFKit to Optimize Board Member Experience and Efficiency

Illustration: Case Study: How Govenda Uses PSPDFKit to Optimize Board Member Experience and Efficiency

Govenda is a women-founded company that began offering board portal software to help companies manage their board of directors communications. But in recent years, feedback from users showed that they wanted and needed more than a board portal packet or one-off tool.

“C-suite executives, corporate secretaries, board members, and board admins tell us they need to manage board relationships and the business of governance better,” said CTO Jeanette Thomas. As a result, the company expanded its mission to empower organizations to create sustainable value by equipping boards and leadership with innovative tools that transform governance practices. Then, in the first half of 2021, the company rebranded, changing the name from BoardBookit to Govenda.

Since 2014, Govenda has used PSPDFKit in its products to help its users:

  • Manage and share digital board books

  • Securely view documents and keep them up to date

  • Make notes and annotations to meeting materials

  • Electronically sign documents

Screenshot showing a note annotation

“We think board relationship management is an exciting area. But there’s so much responsibility on the shoulders of the board of directors and the management team, that they need to have a comprehensive forward-thinking approach to how they manage the company. And our goal is to help them do that.”— Jeanette Thomas, CTO, Govenda

The Challenge

In the past, board administrators prepared board books using physical papers in a binder. Approximately a week before a meeting, they’d mail the binders to board members to review in advance.

However, if something changed in the meantime, they’d have to mail out replacement sections with notes for board members to replace and update those sections of their binders — frequently more than once. The entire process was incredibly inefficient, expensive, and not at all environmentally friendly.

As electronic workflows started being adopted in this space, many administrators began to — and still do — email this information. This addressed the time and money issues, but a new challenge arose.

“The concern with that is it’s not secure. You don’t want your board members downloading and using their personal laptops or their company laptops to store company information. You want it to all stay in the cloud in the portal,” Thomas said, referencing the 2016 incident of hackers breaking into the email of Colin Powell — a member of the Board of Directors at Salesforce — and gaining access to confidential and sensitive company information.

“But that’s what some people still do,” she said. “Then they have to send out an email that says, ‘Oh, we have a change in this section.’ And now you have three emails with your packets all over the place. So, it’s not only not secure; it’s also difficult to keep track of.”

Board portals and board relationship management systems are the answer to these concerns. All information is online, and secure, and there’s no manual updating of information — it’s all up to date and in one place.

Govenda was on a mission to provide its customers with the necessary tools to make board portal software management intuitive, easy to use, and secure. And a huge part of that involves PDFs, because they’re universally accepted and trusted as a safe and accessible document format. The only thing lacking was the SDK that would enable working with PDFs, which is when Govenda came to PSPDFKit.

Screenshot showing a signature

The Solution

In 2014, Govenda began using PSPDFKit for iOS.

“We were only available on iPad,” said Director of Engineering TJ Coyle. “And at the time, that was all PSPDFKit offered. Of the existing PDF viewer solutions out there, nobody had really tailormade a solution for iOS yet. PSPDFKit was the clear choice.”

As Govenda expanded its cross-platform offerings, it adopted PSPDFKit’s Android SDK in 2016 and Web SDK in 2018 as they were introduced. Govenda grew its business, and PSPDFKit’s broad range of product offerings was there to help every step of the way.

“It’s worth noting that when we first launched, we had an iPad app, and then we had a web browser, so people could use the web browser. And because PSPDFKit originally only offered iOS, we used a different tool in the web app. But even as we continued to use the web tool, it clearly was inferior to PSPDFKit,” Thomas said, noting that it was neither intuitive nor smooth, and the company wanted something that would load and save quickly. “So the minute PSPDFKit came out with a web version, we switched and consolidated, and then we also launched an Android app. And so we used PSPDFKit for that. So we definitely didn’t start everything off with PSPDFKit, but we have converged everything there.”

The use cases for Govenda include creating and distributing board materials; allowing board members to make decisions with electronic voting; recording, managing, and distributing meeting minutes; and streamlining the management of multiple boards.

PSPDFKit makes all of this possible. For example, Viewer enables users to view and navigate through PDFs quickly and securely. Users can leave notes and annotations while reading through documents prior to or during meetings, and they can choose to keep them private or share them with other members. They can view and fill out forms, sign documents, and even upload and convert Office files to PDFs.

Screenshot showing an arrow annotation

“We don’t think any other tools have the breadth and the ease of use that PSPDFKit has. We certainly have evaluated other companies over the years. And every time we do that, we’ve come back to PSPDFKit.”— Jeanette Thomas, CTO, Govenda

The Results

Support for viewing, annotating, signing, and sharing PDFs within Govenda enables board administrators and members, corporate secretaries, executive leadership, IT professionals, and general counsel to manage their board materials with ease. And by using PSPDFKit, Govenda helps its users adopt efficient, secure workflows with ease, while saving time and money.

“I have nothing but incredible things to say. PSPDFKit is best in class — from its SDK designs across all platforms, down to the people, everybody we’ve interacted with. I can’t say enough good things.”— TJ Coyle, Director of Engineering, Govenda

Natalye Childress Editor

Natalye is a copy editor and copywriter from California. She’s passionate about storytelling, immaculate grammar, clean copy, and quality journalism. She loves coffee and beer, mixtapes and books, and road bikes and punk rock.

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