Sick of long, unproductive meetings? Two Fribourgeois propose a digital solution, WEDO, to make them efficient. Explanations.
Between three and six weeks a year: that’s the time we spend on average in work meetings, according to a survey published in 2017 by the Opinionway Institute for the business consultancy firm Empreinte Humaine. According to this survey of a thousand employees in companies of various sizes and in a variety of economic sectors, nearly one out of every two sessions is considered unproductive. More than 25% of the respondents do not see the need to participate. As a result, 44% of them discreetly use their smartphone to do something else during this time (typically reading and sending emails).
This scourge has a name: Meeting madness. Antoine Sudan and David Dutch suffered from it for several years after graduating from engineering school. “Meetings are not useless in themselves,” they say at the outset. “The problem is that they are poorly prepared, the agenda is not respected and you come out of them far too often without being sure of what has been decided. Amazed at the time they spent on this commendable but frustrating exercise, Antoine Sudan and David Dutch developed the WEDO web application. That was in 2014. Today, four years and thirty updates later, this web application is used by more than a hundred organisations, municipalities and companies in French-speaking Switzerland, including Groupe Mutuel, Groupe E Connect, HES-SO Fribourg and Banque Cantonale de Fribourg.
Neither blockchain, Dropbox, nor intranet, WEDO is a collaborative platform whose layout automatically adapts to the size of the screen you use (iPhone, PC…). It is in fact an interface with a common and participative space. Very didactic, it has been designed to be within everyone’s reach. Regardless of its functionalities and technical qualities, the WEDO application is based on in-depth reflection and careful analysis of the factors that make working meetings so often disappointing and time-consuming. In other words, this organizational solution has been developed to respond directly and pragmatically to certain recurring problems. One example: the agenda often remains a little vague until everyone is gathered around the table. To avoid this, WEDO offers a feature that allows you to record and schedule the items to be discussed. Once this is done, simply open the application and follow the thread of questions. No more digressing, in short.
EASY TO KNOW WHO’S DOING WHAT
The minutes are a chore? Thanks to WEDO, it is possible to write it live. “This is one of the interesting features of our meeting management module. You have an agenda, with a series of items to be discussed, and you can add under each item blocks of information, whether they are notes, decisions or tasks to be carried out,” explains Antoine Sudan. Decisions made and tasks assigned during meetings can then be recorded by the minute writer at the time. Since this information is displayed in a specific place in the module and all participants have a personal access account, it is very easy to retrieve this information later. In short, at the end of the session, everyone knows where to find the answer to the famous “who does what” question.
In addition, it is possible to export an agenda or minutes by generating a PDF file so that it can be shared, printed and signed. You can also easily create extracts from minutes, or retrieve notes through the minutes using simple keywords. Gone are the days when you had to open multiple files to get your hands on information!
“The strength of WEDO is that it covers all phases of meeting management: before, with the preparation of the agenda, during, with the taking of important notes, and finally after, with the follow-up of tasks. Indeed, in addition to our module for meeting management, we have developed another one for task management and scheduling, and both interact with each other. Therefore, you have the means to ensure a continuous and dynamic follow-up of the work. This way, you can see at any time what has been done between sessions and what remains to be done. You no longer have to wait to obtain or pass on information, nor do you have to send several confirmation e-mails or call three times to find out how much a quote will cost,” says David Dutch. In addition, each user can activate synchronisation with his electronic calendar (Outlook, Google Calendar…).
MEETINGS SHORTENED BY ONE THIRD
It is also possible to create specific spaces for certain projects, departments or work teams, so that tasks can be distributed in one click. As soon as a job is indicated as completed, the participants concerned receive immediate and automatic feedback. “All of these processes greatly speed up the processing of decisions and shorten the duration of sessions by an average of one third,” says Antoine Sudan.
Solving complicated problems with a simple software: that was the challenge of the creators of WEDO. The first person they told about it – a former professor – predicted that « it would never work ». Which makes them laugh a lot today. « Luckily, our engineering mentality soon got the better of us and we refused to let it get us down ». While many young entrepreneurs start by trying to raise funds, Antoine Sudan and David Dutch decide to develop their application while working and approach their first customers in parallel. They conduct more than 300 interviews for this purpose. Right from the start, they rely on user feedback to improve their product. The first version is officially released in May 2015. A few prospects test it. « With each new release, we surveyed our customers to find out how we could improve WEDO. And we continue to solicit their opinions and feedback. For example, some of them recently commented that they would have liked to have been able to define specific access criteria, to avoid having participants pop up with irrelevant questions on the agenda. While a General Secretary should certainly be able to modify the agenda, this is not necessarily the case for any participant. So in the latest version of WEDO, we have introduced a new tool to set up access rights very finely ».
START WITH A FREE TRIAL
What about the price? According to a common practice in applications, it depends on the number of users. It varies between 15 and 25 francs per person per month. WEDO is available in packs of five, ten or fifteen users; above twenty, packs are sold in increments of ten additional units. The subscription covers all updates, data hosting and support, i.e. all services with the exception of change management during the first year to maximise the chances of success, which is also calculated on the basis of a flat rate depending on the size of the network.
“But what we always offer in the first place is a free presentation of WEDO. That’s why you’ll find a big blue button on the homepage of our website www.wedo.swiss that you can click on to schedule a demonstration by booking a date at your convenience directly in our calendar,” say Antoine Sudan and David Dutch, who claim that the data will only be hosted on servers located in Switzerland.
Source: original article Le Matin Dimanche.