Women talking with colleague holding a tablet
August 15, 2019
Dee Sicklesteel

Are paper and free file sharing systems failing your board? 6 reasons to adopt a board portal

How are you managing your board meeting communication and director updates? Do you often field questions like: “Where is the meeting agenda again?” or “How do I get to our committee notes?”

These questions can seem trivial, but they are an indicator of director frustration with board communication, and having to constantly answer them consumes valuable staff time. What’s more, exit interview research shows that board information that is hard to access, unclear, and that does not use technology to engage directors contributes to the reasons why good board members leave. 

Many boards are still making do with patchwork solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, and email to manage board meetings and communications. Some also continue to do things the old fashioned way: couriering paper updates for bulky binders. Either way, relaying updates to board members via email, file sharing system, or courier can be costly and time consuming.

If your board has yet to adopt board portal technology, it may be time to finally ditch the paper, email, or file sharing system you’re using to gain the efficiency and security of purpose-built board technology. Board portals like Aprio dramatically streamline board updates while making your board information up-to-date and easy to access from anywhere via a mobile device or an Internet browser. What’s more, you’re supported by a dedicated support team that trains and helps directors when you need to be doing other things.

Are you ready to learn more about the reasons why board technology like Aprio can help you to better engage your directors and reduce the administrative burden on your teams? Let’s dive into more details on the 6 reasons why you should ditch your current solution.

Reason #1: Efficient board communication

Dropbox and other file sharing sites, like SharePoint, allow you to do one thing: share files. But there’s more to practicing good governance than sharing information between board members. Because board portals like Aprio are designed for boards, they allow you to be more productive, and provide you with the ability to facilitate better meeting preparation and discussion. Here’s a few standout differences of a board portal:

  • One login to access to board materials anytime, even when board members are travelling
  • Send updates securely to all directors with one click that triggers an email with links to latest documents (no more version confusion!)
  • Calendar provides outlook of future meetings
  • Easy-to-search archive of past minutes and board information
  • Annotations and discussions let board members review the agenda, link to related reports, and relay background questions to other directors or the chair before the board meeting starts.

Board administrators and CEOs experience a dramatic difference in efficiency once they’ve made the switch to a board portal. They’ll get particularly excited when they see how Aprio provides automated meeting agenda creation with links to right-version, relevant documents and how it instantly publishes board information.

While staff spend far less time preparing meeting packages, Aprio also helps to keep directors engaged and up-to-date between meetings. 

When directors log in to Aprio, they are greeted with a dashboard, like a mission control center, where they can access meeting dates, contacts, minutes, and the next meeting agenda. In a nutshell, the board portal works like directors think and helps them perform their role efficiently.

Directors can also easily annotate documents and share comments in advance of board meetings, so that time isn’t wasted on background discussions. In addition, directors can also easily sign documents and submit votes through Aprio surveys.

Reason #2: Easier onboarding

Surveys of directors report that board members are looking for efficient tools to get educated on board needs and contribute to board decisions – from day one!

Gone are the days when flipping through a 5-inch binder gave a board member the feeling of being well briefed. Directors want to have convenient online access with easy search and they don’t just want some of the story – they want access to historic discussions and decisions and the ability to converse with peer directors.

Onboarding with Aprio’s board portal gives your board these immediate advantages:

  • New directors have instant, secure, and self-serve access to board information critical for them to understand to contribute quickly on your board
  • The simple-to-use board portal shares your meeting calendar, director contacts, past minutes, and more, letting new directors focus on strategic discussions, and not on how to get information 
  • Board communication protocols are in place that you can explain at onboarding – all updates are sent via the portal for same-time access, all information is archived for search, and all agendas have links to critical documents for directors to efficiently prepare
  • Logins are tracked so the board chair can see if there are directors that are disengaged or underprepared for meetings – the expectation is that everyone commits. 

As part of onboarding new directors on Aprio, we offer 1:1 training, with ongoing how-to webinars to go with the new features we add every quarter.

Reason #3: Inclusive information access 

It’s happened to most board administrators – one director is involved in contributing updates to a board report and asks to see it before it’s circulated to all members. When we’re using paper, emails, or file sharing systems, there is no real protocol in place for distributing board updates that enforce same-time access to all directors. That can put board administrators in a hard spot as the frontline of one-off requests. Aprio ensures that information is always distributed equally and at the same time to all directors.

Aprio provides a communication framework to ensure board members have inclusive and timely access to board information and an equal voice at the board table. Alerts give directors instant access to meeting materials wherever they are supporting board efforts to invite a diversity of voices and honour inclusion. 

Reason #4: Mobile access directors can work where and how they want

On any board, different members often have different preferences on how they wish to work. 

Aprio lets directors access board information in the manner that suits them on a web browser from their laptop or on their tablet with the Aprio app. Either way, between meetings, board members can easily find information, like meeting minutes or upcoming meeting agendas and board materials, from their electronic device of choice.

Reason #5: Advanced data security

You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating. We live in a time of intense data risk. Board meetings can involve reviewing highly confidential corporate information including financials, CEO succession planning, acquisition discussions, and strategic plans. Many organizations secure employee access to information but underestimate the risk at the board level, but it’s easy to safeguard board documents with affordable technology.

Aprio stands apart as the board portal that security-conscious financial organizations and publicly-funded organizations trust, along with many other health and non-profit companies. Here are some of the security benefits we make economical:

  • Send updates without email risk, as board portals are designed to provide advanced encrypted information-sharing protection (at both the sender and the receiver ends)
  • Remote data clearing if a board member’s computer or device is lost or stolen
  • Board data is protected on highly secure data servers, with a choice of geographic location.

The Aprio board portal provides the highest level of security in the industry along with the convenience of a one-stop location for your board of directors to access agendas, calendars, and contacts in an easy-to-use system engineered specifically for boards. To learn more, view an IT audit of Aprio security here.

Reason #6: Support 

The days before board meetings can be crunch time for board administrators, governance staff, and executive assistants. Let Aprio help. 

When board directors have a question about accessing board data, they can call our support line for dedicated assistance. Our support team members are experienced former board administrators themselves, so they understand board needs and serve board members with professionalism.

So what’s next?

While using Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint, or another file-sharing platform to store and share your board materials can seem “free,” the truth is that making those generic systems work for the board often falls to the board administration team, and their time is not free. Plus, you need to consider the high cost of frustrating directors who want communication to be more convenient.

Implementing a board portal can help you achieve the board efficiency and good governance that you want.

Interested in learning more? Book a demo with us and learn how the Aprio board portal can benefit your board.

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