Can cloud services take your board meeting to new heights?

Can cloud services take your board meeting to new heights?

Mobile-friendly, Zoom-integrated portals can improve security, efficiency and convenience of virtual, hybrid or in-person gatherings

Board management software may not be top of mind for chief executives and their IT departments, what with virtual meeting platforms and association management systems to worry about.

But products are available to take your virtual or hybrid board meetings from simple Zoom affairs to integrated document-sharing, minute-keeping, messaging and vote-recording experiences using secure portals. Many of those advantages apply to in-person meetings, too.

“It’s a tool that could be helpful, especially going forward when it seems like there’s going to be more and more hybrid meetings,” said Duane Capuano, a senior consultant at board consulting firm Tecker International. “Tools like board management software will help make those meetings run much more smoothly.”

Such services are not new, but they are niche products that have not been a high priority when associations have considered enterprise software needs, he said.

The value of such software goes beyond virtual and hybrid meetings, although they include integrated teleconferencing functions. By creating a secure portal where documents are stored in the cloud, printing and mailing costs are reduced, and these documents—collectively known as “board books”—are delivered to board members more quickly, whether they are attending in person or not. Board books might run 150 pages, and the portals provide a way to review the materials on a computer or tablet or smartphone without carrying around a bundle that could end up being misplaced. That would present liability and confidentiality issues.

“It would help the board members in terms of being easy to work with,” Capuano said. “This would definitely make prepping for the meetings a lot easier, in that all the information’s in one place. It’s easier to exchange information and data with fellow board members or with executive staff.”

Full-suite solutions

Among the better-known cloud-based products is OnBoard, from Passageways, which provides both the nonprofit and corporate market with a full suite of services. Others include Diligent Boards, from Diligent, and Boardvantage, from Nasdaq, the stock exchange operator. Boardable, from Boardable, is another, though with less functionality and a lower price point. It was created with smaller nonprofits in mind. Among the functions Boardable does not include is the ability to annotate shared documents. It does integrate with Zoom and has a mobile app.

“OnBoard saves us significant time and money,” said Henry Stoever, CEO of the $14 million-revenue Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. “For example, in pre-portal days, teams spent significant time and money to create and mail printed and bound board books.”

Stoever has experience with board-meeting software going back 15 years, including using some of the most established products.

“One of the features I find really helpful is the ability to conduct analytics on what board members are accepting or declining, their availability to participate in board and committee meetings,” he said.

Executives can see “who has downloaded different materials from the portal. One of the key elements for any board meeting or committee meeting is to ensure that the board members read and review the material prior to the meeting,” Stoever said. “So it gives the board chair insights as to who has done what. And it enables each individual board member to evaluate other board members and the board as a whole, and for committee members to evaluate their own committee’s performance. All of those features are needed to help the board gain efficiencies as they conduct their business.” – Read more

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