A serendipitous discovery at the IQ Business Group has led to a web-based solution which should help superannuation trustees work more efficiently. PHILIPPA YELLAND reports. The Trustee Office Solutions (TOS) is a template based on Microsoft’s SharePoint technology, and can be hosted on premises or as a cloudbased application. The solution improves communications between board members and streamlines administrative records to improve governance standards. Graham Sammells, who is CEO of IQ, says TOS is one of eight templates that IQ has developed to streamline workflows in areas as diverse as trustee boards, case management and project management. According to Fiona Reynolds, CEO of AIST – which has officially endorsed the solution – the launch of the Trustee Office Solution is highly appropriate for the current environment. “The solution directly addresses the benefits of technology for our members and their clients,” she says.

The solution will raise the benchmark of board administration in Australia, says Reynolds, and “it reinforces that we have industry participants proactively reforming superannuation industry operations.” The solution’s beginnings were almost accidental, admits Sammells. “In the IQ Business Group itself, we implemented a knowledge management strategy to manage all the information we gathered. We had to work out how to manage the management of meetings, forums, and all the countless sources of information,” he says. “We were already using the collaborative Microsoft SharePoint technology and had found it highly effective internally, so we could apply it to our clients’ businesses which we knew well.” IQ consulted with AIST, says Sammells, “because it has a very direct focus on industry funds and we have a good mutual working relationship. We then designed a bespoke solution for trustee offices.” Many offices already have SharePoint in place, Sammells says, but are not fully exploiting its capabilities to publish, collaborate, and action items. He describes TOS as a central repository which can send alerts when new materials are received, and which can all be updated in one place. “It’s just configuring the SharePoint technology that’s there. It’s low-maintenance and low-cost,” he says.

TOS’ first deployment is with a public sector fund, and an industry fund is using a related template. A lot of interest in the solution was generated at the CMSF conference at the Gold Coast in late March this year. Sammells says a big plus is TOS’ seamless deployment onto the iPad, which is becoming more popular with trustees. However, the iPad has exacerbated security issues, Sammells says, so IQ has identified another business opportunity. “It’s been a two-way development. The TOS grew out of our experience, and our use of the iPad is showing us that we need to address the issue of security on portable devices.” TOS automates governance requirements for super fund trustee boards; it helps with preparation of board documentation; the recording of board meeting items and tasks; and tracks the items allocated to board individuals. The web-based offering operates with workflow processes to automatically collate the paperwork required for board meetings. It can then store minutes from the board meeting on a corporate document template, and distribute the outcome to board members through email. Next, tasks are assigned to board members, and outcomes can be tracked so that board priorities can be managed or re-allocated if necessary. Each board member has a personalised dashboard which tracks tasks, provides calendar updates and secure access to board and sub-committee documentation. This is provided within the existing Microsoft technology environment, incorporating existing documents, calendars and templates into the communications flow. The solution gives board members the latest information available and Sammells believes this contributes to more informed decision-making. “This is a streamlined approach to collaborating within a board meeting environment, and as part of the administrative follow up of key meetings,” he says,

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