How to Choose a Board Portal
Board Directors are required to have an intimate knowledge of company activities and face much greater scrutiny in today’s economic climate. The Board are under increasing pressure to provide information in shorter timescales, and to do so must find efficient working practices.
By using a board portal you will not only reduce your administration time, but you will also ensure that board directors receive their board packs on time, without the cost and hassle of couriering cumbersome paper copies.
Selecting the right board portal for your needs can be a complicated undertaking, which is why we have put together this article on what we think are the most important things to consider when shortlisting providers.
Before you begin researching the different features on offer, it would be beneficial to gather the opinions of those who will be using the board portal, to ascertain what requirements they have. Make sure to include board members and administrative staff, as they will most likely have differing priorities.
Security should be your top priority.You may already have concerns about security with paper copies and filing procedures, which board portal solutions in general, can overcome. Since board materials are sensitive, you want to ensure that your data is secure at all times, and on all devices. You also want to make sure that adhering to security protocols is as simple as possible.
When choosing a provider make sure you know where your data is hosted. Remember, this may not be possible with solutions hosted in The Cloud.
If you will be accessing your board portal from a mobile or tablet device, make sure that data is encrypted. It would be wise to choose a provider that offers remote wipe in the event of your device being lost or stolen.
Be wary of third party annotation and search indexes, as these may compromise your data. Some apps have developed their own functions which are safe. Look out for these.
Next you should consider ease of use. Your board portal needs to have a user interface that is easy to use and navigate as it will be utilised by a wide range of people with differing technical abilities. If the software is hard to get to grips with, board members will resist adoption.
Ensure you are given a demo of your shortlisted board portal solutions, and look out for a clear and intuitive navigation and make sure you can easily view your documents without hassle.
How often do you find yourself frantically searching for archived documents, or past meeting papers? If you choose the right board portal this will be a thing of the past thanks to keyword or phrase search, and searchable archives.
The following are the key functions that we think you should be looking out for:
- Document archives and searchable knowledge store.
- Alerts that notify users for example when new documents have been uploaded.
- Document management tools for creating and updating board packs.
- Meeting management for creating meetings and inviting attendees.
- Access to multiple boards across multiple committees.
- Downloadable documents that can be viewed when offline.
- Access to wider governance information, such as risks and decisions.
Ensuring that you can access your board portal easily when away from the office is an important feature. Due to board portals being web based, this should be the norm for all providers.
I would however suggest shortlisting only providers that have a dedicated mobile application for accessing the board portal. Some providers might only offer mobile access via the device’s web browser, which will be awkward and frustrating to use.
Save money and the environment!
Using a board portal will not only reduce your administration costsaround preparing the board materials, but also consider the personnel costs of producing those monthly packs. Compiling, printing, binding, distribution… and don’t forget the inevitable addendums! Re-compile, re-print, re-bind, re-distribute and hope that your Directors received the addendums in time.
Your new board portal should significantly reduce the costs associated with board pack compilation and distribution.
Is your organisation looking to reduce their environmental impact? A board portal will greatly assist you in progressing towards a paperless environment. Encourage your board to set the example as your organisation looks to reduce its carbon footprint. The future is paperless…
by Jessica Eliot