By Alex Vuchnich, CPA, CFE - Whiteboard applications provide a useful tool for sharing and communicating ideas with staff or clients. One problem of course is that in order to use a whiteboard normally you have to get all of the parties together in the same room or use expensive virtual whiteboard setups. A new internet based application, Dabbleboard provides a solution for collaborative whiteboarding for multiple remote participants. I tried out Dabbleboard and was very impressed with its ease of use and functionality. To get started you sign up for a free account and then you are on your way. There is also a short video tutorial that is worth watching. Within about five minutes you can pretty much master the full feature set of the application.
As far as features go, the whiteboard includes both freehand drawing options as well as intelligent recognition of basic shapes. The whiteboard is interacted with via mouse and then notes can be typed into the various shapes that you add to the drawing. I also attempted to interact with the whiteboard via my pen and tablet and overall it worked well but it seems that the application was optimized for use with a mouse which makes sense considering that this will be how most users control the whiteboard. I was able to draw a simple flowchart in a few minutes and add a couple of notes. The next major feature though is the option to then share the whiteboard with other collaborators. One thing that I truly applaud Dabbleboard on is that collaborators are not required to sign up for a separate account as well. After you email the link to them, the other party can view and edit the whiteboard and any changes will be reflected in your version of the drawing.
I can see many uses within CPA firms for this type of application. One use might be to send over a flowchart of an internal control process for the client to review and edit or add commentary to make sure both you and the client fully understand the process and the key controls. Also I can see this being a great tool for helping your staff understand what you may desire to see in a particular workpaper. Rather than trying to discuss this over the phone or via IM, a manager or partner could simple sketch out the workpaper layout and desired test details, tickmarks, etc. and then share it out to the staff person. The potential application for an online whiteboard are enormous and I believe many firms can benefit from adding this type of collaborative application to their tool bag.