Customer Stories


The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy uses OnBoard’s Productivity Suite and the Minutes Builder, along with other features, to significantly optimize board meeting effectiveness around the globe.



Industry: Associations

Global Offices: Washington, D.C., Baltimore; Hilo, Hawaii; Tucson, Arizona; La Serena, Chile

Board Management Goals

  • Greater ease of use and increased board convenience
  • Improved service

OnBoard Capabilities:

  • Productivity Suite
  • Minutes Builder


  • 50% time savings
  • 50% increase in user satisfaction
  • Exemplary, dedicated customer service

Spanning the Globe to Observe Space

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 47 U.S. institutions and three international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories for the National Science Foundation and NASA. The organization’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research.

The AURA corporate office sits in Washington, D.C. and there’s an additional corporate office in Baltimore. Their observatories span the globe. Each of AURA’s observatories is governed by a council and there is also an overarching AURA board with additional ad hoc committees.

The AURA board consists of 19 individuals, but board materials are shared with each of the observatory directors and some of their staff members. As Director of Corporate Operations, part of Nanci Reich’s job is to coordinate the meetings for the AURA board and each of its observatory’s councils. “My average board meeting is probably 30 to 50 people,” she says, “depending on where it is and what is going on. The council meetings are a bit smaller.”

"It used to take me on average three months to finish meeting minutes. Now, using the Minutes Builder, I get it done within a couple of hours or a couple of days. Now I have all kinds of time I never had before.”  

— Nanci Reich
Director of Corporate Operations


Previous board management solution proves Unsatisfactory

Reich not only coordinates board meetings that pull members from time zones all over the world, she also handles member travel, hotel contracts, transportation, AV equipment and anything else board-related.

Due to the complexity of her role, Reich years ago turned to another board management solution provider to help streamline tasks, but it didn’t work out as she’d hoped.

“The previous solution would not allow you to download all the board documents at once,” Reich says. “Board members had to go in and download them individually. It was cumbersome. That was the first thing that everybody hated. The second thing for me was the fact that every time I called customer support, I got a different person.”

Seeking relief, Reich tried 10 different board management solutions before implementing the OnBoard board intelligence platform. She was struck by the platform’s ease of use. “In any group,” she says, “there are those who are a little less tech-savvy, so I need something that just works, that’s very intuitive.”

Attaining all aspects of ease-of-use

In demanding ease-of-use, Reich did not overlook the ease with which her board members could learn the program. Her boards and councils gain and lose members annually. In order to manage her large and smaller boards, she needed buy-in from her board members; they had to actually use the program, not just download it. Therefore, she needed a system that was as easy to learn initially as it was to use in the long run.    

“The OnBoard customer success managers provide 15-minute trainings. They offered one today and I was a little bit late. I arrived 7 minutes in, and the session was over. He had shown the board member the ins and outs of OnBoard in only 7 minutes. To have someone grasp it that quickly is impressive. I haven’t really had somebody come back to me and say, ‘where is this? What do I do about that?’ That’s because it is, again, very intuitive. If they do have questions, the customer success manager has made himself available for any questions, and of course I’m there as a sounding board as well.”

OnBoard Minutes Builder as a life-changer

There’s also a new OnBoard feature that Reich says “truly has changed my life.” The Minutes Builder lets her create minutes within the OnBoard platform. Reich bases her minutes on an agenda she built as a template with the program. She can take notes within any agenda item, record motions, assign tasks, and create new agenda sections should she need them.    

“It used to take me on average three months to finish meeting minutes,” Reich says. “Now, using the Minutes Builder, I get it done within a couple of hours or a couple of days. Now I have all kinds of time I never had before.”  

A shift from monochrome to full color

OnBoard solves the issues Reich had with her previous board management software. Her members can now download the entire board book, in addition to having 24/7 accessibility to an easy-to-use and easy-to-learn central repository for all things board-related.

She also enjoys excellent customer support. “It far exceeds other organizations that I interact with,” she says. “I have a small, designated group of two or three people that I can reach out to. That is imperative to me as opposed to calling an 1-800 number and sitting on hold, having no idea who you’ll be speaking to. That person will not be familiar with my organization, and I can’t work that way anymore—ever.”

Reich estimates a 50% time savings with OnBoard compared to her previous board management solution. She also believes her constituents are at least 50% more satisfied. “It is sort of like Dorothy going from black and white into the Technicolor of Oz,” Reich says of the transition. “It is infinitely easier to use. And if my attendees are happy, then my job is easier.”


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