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Case Study: How BoardPro Uses PSPDFKit’s Instant Collaboration to Enable Better Governance for More than 2,000 Boards across 26 Countries

Obren Jankovic
Illustration: Case Study: How BoardPro Uses PSPDFKit’s Instant Collaboration to Enable Better Governance for More than 2,000 Boards across 26 Countries

BoardPro Limited is a board management software company that facilitates the running of board meetings, governance boards, and subcommittees.

Targeting the needs of small-to-medium-sized businesses and non-profits, BoardPro understands the challenges of small boards. Namely, these organizations don’t have the staff, such as a board secretary, or the budgets, that large institutions take for granted.

But regardless of size, small and large boards alike usually follow the same processes, pursuing the same activities in similar ways. This means that while the process of governance is largely the same, board size is not. And that can have a severe impact on outcomes. Small boards are under just as much legal risk as large boards with the additional pressure to meet their fiduciary and legal requirements. Needless to say, there’s a lot at stake for BoardPro’s clients.

The mission of BoardPro is to make governance work better. It simplifies, organizes, and saves time while guiding board members through a good governance process. BoardPro’s cloud-based technology, in conjunction with PSDFKit’s Instant collaboration solution, enables board members to read documents online, capture notes, and share ideas, while annotating any document in real time. This enables them to discuss, debate, and make sound decisions.

When looking for a partner for its governance platform, BoardPro focused on the following criteria:

  • The ability to enable collaboration and annotation syncing in real time for web and iOS.

  • A full suite of annotation tools, including sticky notes, pens, highlighters, etc.

  • User privacy during the annotation process.

  • Fast search-and-find features.

  • Stability on multiple browsers.

  • Regular updates, bug fixes, and product improvements.

  • A responsive support team.

  • Deep technical expertise in PDF technologies.

The Challenge

A close up of someone signing a piece of paper and another person resting their hands on a piece of paper.

When BoardPro was in its startup phase, customers began to request annotation features that would enable them to highlight and mark up board documents in real time, and not just view them.

It was a great idea. But the main challenge was cost.

At the time, BoardPro was an early stage company with no budget to pay exorbitant licensing fees. Additionally, the company wasn’t interested in building annotation features in-house either. After all, PDF tools have a steep learning curve requiring a significant technical investment, which was outside its core business.

The company initially suggested that customers download a third-party annotation tool. However, this only created new problems. Board packs would get updated and changed, meaning there was a high probability of different users annotating different versions or wasting time searching for the latest version.

In fact, the whole process of managing annotations was confusing and time-wasting. The BoardPro team quickly understood that it needed a software partner to help bring annotations in-house, allowing all of its users to keep up to date on the latest version of the board pack they were working on and collaborate in real time.

“We wanted a partner who had a good reputation and who had a stable growing business,” said Kim Thibault, Co-Founder and CPO of BoardPro Limited. “We wanted to work with a team of experts who understood annotations and how to manage PDFs on the web.”

BoardPro also wanted to work with a software firm that continued to support its product with new releases and bug fixes — in short, a product that was the core of its business, and not an afterthought.

“Since we target the board processes and the people on the board, we had to be certain that we chose a stable and reputable partner,” Thibault added. “After all, we’re serving board members, the chair, the board secretaries, the CEO, and the other people on the executive team who support the board. This is a high-end audience with high expectations.”

The Solution

Three people seated around a table and looking at a laptop screen and talking.

After evaluating several competing solutions, the BoardPro team finally decided on using PSPDFKit’s Instant collaboration product for its annotation needs. Instant is a prebuilt solution that can easily be integrated into any web, mobile, and desktop app and allows real-time synchronizing of annotations across multiple concurrent users, devices, and sessions.

This means that all BoardPro users can be sure they’re collaborating on the latest version of their board documents, within the BoardPro product — whether they’re logging in from their computer or iPad. Instant is perfect in situations where compliance, data protection, having your data in sync, and allowing multiple users to work on the same document is crucial.

Instant is also engineered and optimized to work reliably, even with a slow or unstable network connection, making it perfect for leaving quick notes on the go, a feature appreciated by busy board members. One of the reasons PSPDFKit Instant performs so well is its smart sync function. This means that it only syncs when there are changes, allowing for a smooth experience — even when working with massive PDF documents. Board packs can often consist of hundreds of reports, so this was a crucial feature for BoardPro.

With Instant, BoardPro’s users have a fast, reliable, device-agnostic way to annotate on the latest version of their board documentation.

But it wasn’t only because the company offered a superior technology that BoardPro made the decision to select PSPDFKit.

Offering a Cost Advantage

While the BoardPro team was evaluating PSPDFKit’s tools, senior management approached PSPDFKit about licensing fees. BoardPro’s customer base is very price sensitive, and a per-month per-user fee structure was out of the question.

“We needed to provide a flat-rate solution,” explained Thibault. “It had to be a simple fee structure. That’s our pricing model — flat-rate everything.”

After discussing financial requirements, PSPDFKit offered BoardPro a flat rate per organization instead of the traditional per-user pricing.

“We’re the only company offering unlimited meetings, unlimited users, unlimited documents. And let’s face it, governance isn’t one-size-fits-all. You can’t expect small businesses and non-profits to pay hefty license fees. It’s a non-starter for them,” Thibault explained.

PSPDFKit proved that it was a serious and sincere vendor. The flat-rate per-organization pricing was the key to the deal.

“They cared about us. They were willing to change their pricing model to support us and to grow with us,” Thibault said. “That cinched the deal.”

The Results

Today, more than 2,000 boards in 26 countries use BoardPro. And PSPDFKit is a key player in that success. Its performant, flexible Instant collaboration platform has enabled BoardPro to offer unmatched customer experience in its space. Additionally, the flexible pricing model has allowed the company to drive efficiency and value and provided BoardPro with a serious cost advantage compared to its competitors.

“PSPDFKit has enabled us to be a category leader,” Thibault said. “Next to Microsoft Azure, PSPDFKit is one of our most important suppliers.”

And, as the relationship evolves, PSPDFKit and BoardPro continue to meet new challenges together.

Whether it’s revising licensing fees, enhancing tech support, or making key strategic decisions about advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, the two companies keep pace with open and collaborative dialogue.

“PSPDFKit’s regular releases and improvements and bug fixes are fantastic,” said Thibault. “The Instant server product and the build out with the iOS app have solved all the performance issues. The feedback from customers was very positive, and the flexibility of the Instant server is remarkable.”

Additionally, as customers become more engaged with BoardPro, they’ve discovered its raw potential. Requests for enhanced features are increasing as the user base expands. For instance, editing and manipulating content on the web with multiple editors, and an audit and versioning capability are in demand.

With both companies on a stable footing, and with market expansion continuing for both PSPDFKit and BoardPro, the road is open to exciting possibilities.

“We both know that we’re going to be there for each other,” concluded Thibault. “PSPDFKit enables us to be the only one in our space to offer features like this.”

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