How Technology Can Enable Boards to Make Agile, Smart Decisions

My Post (5).pngBoard management software – also known as a board portal – is a secure platform for boards of directors, executives, and administrators to access meeting materials, communicate with each other, and execute their governance responsibilities. This article provides an overview of board portals, including their benefits and capabilities. Readers will walk away knowing how the technology can help boards make agile, smart decisions and simplify every step of the board meeting life-cycle.

 

Benefits of a Board Portal

Whether you are responsible for collating board materials or a board member who must read them, board portals have many advantages. Some – like the obvious cost-saving brought about by reducing or eliminating paper use – benefit the entire organization. Others are particularly advantageous to the admins and support staff who produce board materials.

Recently, these benefits have been brought into sharp focus. The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an overnight shift to remote work and virtual meetings, highlighting the need for boards to preserve good governance and maintain continuity regardless of where their people are located.

By replacing the old regime of paper, printing, and email, a board portal helps boards and committees improve governance, boost security, save money, and provide more actionable information to their members.

 

7 Key Capabilities of Board Portals That Enable Effective Governance

This article focuses on seven key capabilities – outcomes or results that users will experience by using a board portal. Features such as voting, eSignatures, or Zoom integration are no less important, but these capabilities emphasize how a board portal helps boards govern more effectively.

  1. Advanced Meeting Preparation
    Last-minute changes and reports that come in at the 11th hour create uncertainty, leading to wasted meeting time spent getting everyone up to speed. A board portal systematizes meeting preparation and ensures that reliable and accurate information is available at all times.
  2. Centralized Board Communication
    Board materials such as policies, documentation, and past decisions are too often scattered between emails, text messages, shared drives, and more. A board portal centralizes all board communications and content in one place, thus eliminating email overload, lost files, and communication breakdowns. 
  3. Remote Governance
    Your time is valuable. Finding yourself two hours into a meeting that’s still covering routine administrivia is not only frustrating, but counterproductive. A board portal helps move this work where it belongs – outside the meeting – so the board can focus on more valuable, productive discussion.

 

  1. Business Continuity
    With events moving quickly and new crises cropping up with increasing frequency, the board must maintain an open channel of communications with management to share updates, offer guidance, and make decisions that preserve business continuity. A board portal makes it easy to assemble emergency virtual meetings, onboard new directors, work on mergers and acquisitions, and more. 
  2. Data-Driven Meetings
    Boards today are too often flying blind. They have little insight into when board books are read, what sections are heavily scrutinized, or where notes are taken. A fully-featured board portal should provide those kind of analytics so you can improve your meetings in advance. After all, you can’t change something you don’t measure.
  3. Multi Board
    Smart CEO’s and other executives are in demand, and often sit on multiple boards and committees at the same time. A board portal helps these directors avoid information chaos by keeping documents and priority action items focused and organized. 
  4. Effective Meetings
    Too often, board meetings are not meetings at all – they are very expensive presentations. The lights dim, a PowerPoint begins, and the meeting gets bogged down by reviews and recaps that should’ve happened beforehand. A board portal transforms these board meetings into productive work sessions by enabling effective follow-up and freeing up valuable meeting time for strategic discussions.

 

How to Make the Right Choice When Selecting a Board Portal

By taking all of these capabilities into consideration, the needs of both directors and administrators can be met. But you need to ensure you make the right choice and select the solution and provider that will make your board happy and keep your meetings focused on strategy. 

A free, comprehensive Board Management Software Buyer’s Guide is available to help you navigate this often-confusing world. The goal is for you to walk away equipped with the knowledge of what board software does, who it’s for, why it’s important, and how to fairly make the case that your work would be strengthened by having one. Click here to download the Buyer’s Guide today!

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What to Look for in a Board Management Software

My Post (1)Board management software, commonly known as board portals, are secure environments for board members and administrators to upload and access board or committee materials, communicate, and execute their meetings and governance duties effectively. Through merging mobile hardware and cloud technology, board portals can take the place of paper, printing, shared drives, survey & form tools, e-signature software, and email. Board management software streamlines every step of the board meeting from prepping the board book to conducting the meeting to creating and maintaining follow up tasks for both the board members and administrative staff.

To start, more manual processes like paper are being reduced in every part of business. With the movement of digital transformation influencing all companies, board portals have proven to expand board communication, update processes, save time and money, and help with cybersecurity.

Below are some baseline features and functionality that you should look for when searching for a board management software.

Features and Capabilities

• Board member features like shareable annotations, always up-to-date & synced materials, and calendars can help share information easily and quickly.
• Board and committee member must have the ability to work from anywhere and at any time, so be sure your board portal offers multi-device compatibilities.
• Ease of use features like a drag-and-drop agenda and board book builder, complete file support, and a resource library can greatly ease any challenges that board administrators might face and save time.
• Granular user access controls can help with granting permissions to certain items in the board book or to an entire meeting.

Security

• Secure board management software protects your data with RSA 4096-bit and AES-256 encryption, so this is a bare minimum.
• Microsoft Azure is the gold-standard in cloud-security, and it can be a warning sign if a vendor builds and manages their own servers as there is no way to verify security measures.
• Ask for proof of external audit trails and compliance with basic standards like SOC-2.
• To protect your data, make sure your provider backs up data in multiple locations to not have all eggs in one basket.

From the Vendor

• Be on the lookout for vendors that have been acquired by larger companies, which can lead to a deterioration of customer satisfaction and support.
• Ask about awards and recognition. It’s a good window into market credibility, which has a direct correspondence with quality. Usually vendors who have awards from online review sites gain those from real customer reviews.
• Lastly, ask about their customer success program. Do they retain customers? Are you given a dedicated manager who will help when you need it the most?

Virtual Meeting Needs

• A complete suite of governance features for in-between meetings like e-signatures, voting, and surveys can help make decisions faster.
• A board meeting software with an integrated group or private messenger can help when there are sensitive subjects that need to be discussed or for people to work in an audit-friendly format.
• A board portal with a document management system built-in can help with the searching and dissemination of documents.
• Work with a provider that integrates directly with video conferencing software like Zoom.

Still a little confused on what you should look for in a board portal or how to begin your search? This board portal buyer’s guide will help!

Learn More About Passageways

COVID-19 Has Moved You to Virtual Board Meetings – Is That Even Legal?

My Post (14)Life is unpredictable. While there’s much to be said about the value of in-person meetings, it can become impossible to gather everyone in the same room. Natural disaster, illness, or even a stalled car can lead to an unexpected absence and a failed quorum,

Technology came a long way toward solving this problem even before COVID-19 and social distancing. We know everyone works remotely now and board meetings have gone virtual. Organizations have ramped up their investment in virtual meeting tools that enable leaders to connect and make decisions remotely and even while in multiple locations. The result: CEOs and board directors can hold virtual meetings all without ever needing to get on a plane, check into a hotel, or find a seat in an actual boardroom,

So let’s start with a very important question – is it even legal for you to have a virtual meeting?

The first comprehensive report of all state laws 
State law governs if and how companies and nonprofits conduct virtual board meetings. Nearly every state explicitly authorizes virtual board meetings and those that don’t are silent on the subject. It’s important to note that the state which controls your business is where you’re incorporated, not where you have an office.

We’ve put together the first comprehensive report of all state laws that govern virtual board meetings for both corporations and nonprofits. This thorough examination reveals that nearly every state permits virtual attendance.

Our report turned up some interesting results.

  • First, most state laws read very similarly. For example, if you’re incorporated in Delaware (like more than half of all publicly traded companies in the United States), then you’re in luck and the question of legality is unambiguous:Unless otherwise restricted by the certificate of incorporation or bylaws, members of the board of directors of any corporation, or any committee designated by the board, may participate in a meeting of such board, or committee by means of conference telephone or other communications equipment by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other, and participation in a meeting pursuant to this subsection shall constitute presence in person at the meeting.
  • Another interesting detail: many states have an explicit requirement for audio quality. The technology you use to communicate really can’t be subject to failure.
  • Finally, every state law we examined ultimately leaves the final decision to the organization itself: Unless prohibited by the articles or bylaws of the corporation .. organizations may legally conduct a remote meeting. 

Key Takeaway
For most companies and nonprofits, you’re almost certainly in the clear to hold a virtual meeting when it comes to the law. But don’t assume. Check your state’s laws in our database, and make sure you’re in full compliance. – Read more

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