Bookkeeping transformed into Accounting in the 15th century when it evolved from Single-Entry Bookkeeping into Double Entry Accounting System. Businessmen and managers benefited from it by being able to measure profits and understand how decision making altered their business performance.
Corporate Secretarial practice, likewise, has the potential to evolve into Corporate Governance practice when it moves from Multiple Entry Based System to a Single-Entry Based System. This shift will free up CSs’ time and bandwidth by eliminating clerical work and enabling value-addition that Company Secretaries can provide to their board and the top management team.
Intelligent use of Form Filler software or Form Fillers has the intrinsic ability to make this transformation a reality, thereby transforming corporate secretarial practice into corporate governance practice.
Form fillers are the most basic automation feature that we see in the digital world today. Data such as user’s name, their user id, address, email id and phone numbers entered in one place, which are required to be used multiple times and on multiple occasions gets auto filled at the appropriate fields by most browsers like Google chrome that we use. For more confidential or personal data like passwords, bank account and credit card details, the same form filler is used with more precautions like the user explicitly giving their consent for its use or initiating the autofill each time by an explicit keystroke or action.
In short, the functionality of Form Fillers is to transfer data from the place where they are stored to place where they are needed, by understanding from the context of use to pick up the specific data required for that instance. Like the option to use personal address or office address in sending mails based on the content and recipient, or mobile number or landline phone number for submitting data to a website or form. The more context specific the data, the higher is the intelligence required in the form filler to pick it from a larger database of similar information.
Form Fillers for Company Secretaries
Companies in the absence of physical form exist only by the virtue of their corporate records. Company Secretaries, as the legally designated custodians are required to create, preserve and provide these records where required. Authenticity, Accuracy and Availability of corporate records, the triple A’s of the corporate secretarial world forms the basis of good corporate governance which Company Secretaries are expected to ensure.
Form fillers are a constant feature in the world of corporate secretaries. At its most basic level, the benefits of form fillers are seen in most MCA forms. Where on entering the CIN of a company, a few generic data points pertaining to the company like the name of the company, registered office address, ROC details, and the nature of the company-public or private company get auto filled. This is where at a basic level, the use of form fillers can liberate the Company Secretary from drudgery and mundane work.
At the next level, form fillers can leverage data created in daily routines of a company secretary like agenda preparation for generating draft minutes and filling up the statutory registers and returns required to be filed with the MCA. A concrete example of it is where data entered in BLISS, CimplyFive’s Corporate Secretarial Automation software for creating the resolution for appointment of additional director, uses the data entered once in agenda proposing their name as director in multiple places like prefilling the Register of Directors & KMP and the return DIR-12, which is required to be filed on Appointment of Directors. This not only reduces the workload but also ensures consistence in the spellings and other details captured, thereby eliminating the possibility of inadvertent clerical errors.
Form fillers taken further can be used to fill more than 600 data points captured from the secretarial activity undertaken each year to fill up the Annual Return -MGT-7. Since the Annual return is required to be filed every year by every company incorporated in India, the MGT-7 can be automated by using the form filler for using 600 plus data points captured when the routine secretarial activity is undertaken and thereby eliminating the tedious data entry required currently.
Further prefill can be/ are used in other places like generating a draft agenda for the board and shareholder meetings based on what is the minimum required to be transacted by law. A listed company for instance is required to table more than 20 resolutions in their quarterly board meeting, which can be automated.
The day is not far off when, the Company Secretary by using an automated software will be able to generate all their reports and forms at the click of a mouse or keyboard thereby completely eliminating clerical work and instead engage themselves in providing value-added consultation for the board and top management team.