Board tech adoption – the role of the board chair and CEO | Aprio
Happy mature businesswoman talking to her colleagues at a board meeting.
November 29, 2019
Ian Warner

Board tech adoption – the role of the board chair and CEO

When your board chooses a new board portal, how do you make sure it will be a step up in board efficiency and security? And what’s your role as board chair or CEO in making the new technology pay off? 

You might be worried that your directors will resist the change. You might be worried about how current inefficiencies in how board materials are prepared and distributed can be overcome. Or maybe you’ve heard that the switch to new board portal software can take a long time. 

We understand the concerns of board leaders. Aprio’s implementation, training, and support are tailored to ensure boards make a smooth transition to Aprio in just a few weeks. We help you avoid risks in director adoption, work with administrators to ensure the technology is best utilized, and continuously enhance the Aprio board portal to ensure it’s extremely easy-to-use. 

To get the most from Aprio though, we need help from board leaders. Board portal software works at its best when the board chair and CEO play an active role in making the implementation and ongoing board processes a success. Let’s take a closer look to see what that involves. 

Why the board chair and CEO play an important role in tech adoption

It’s often assumed that the board administrator plays the most important role in board portal adoption and usage. And while they certainly do play a key role, the ongoing success of a board management system is not entirely in their wheelhouse. 

The ultimate success of a board portal depends on the board chair and CEO taking on a leadership role when it comes to the technology used on the board. They’re the ones who hold the power to influence board members to embrace technology and enforce its usage, and they’re also the ones who set the tone on the board overall.

So how can you do this effectively?

How board chairs and CEOs can lead modern board tech adoption

Set expectations

After your board chooses to use board portal technology, it’s important for the board chair and CEO to set the board’s expectations. Clearly communicate why you selected the system you did and the benefits you expect to see from its usage. Make it clear that all board members are expected to use the software instead of the old process, and that logins will be monitored by the board chair and administrator to observe whether everyone is using the software.

“It’s really important that you have a strong board chair who communicates to directors their role in taking advantage of the technology. It used to be at Point West, in any given month, half or a quarter of our board would want a board package printed and delivered. Directors would not attend because they did not feel prepared. The first month Aprio was up and running we communicated to directors the new expectation to embrace technology and completely forfeit their use of paper.”

– Amy Nelson, CEO, Point West Credit Union 

Encourage training

It’s important to be clear that you expect all directors to participate in the personalized, 30-minute, one-on-one director training that Aprio offers. Our technology is incredibly intuitive, but a quick orientation will save directors time in taking full advantage of the technology, and ensure all board members are comfortable using it. Set an example by completing the training yourself.

Highlight the support available

Aprio provides 24/7 support by phone and by email. And our support team members are all former board administrators themselves who understand how boards function. Let directors know to contact Aprio’s expert support directly should they have a technology-related question or need a refresher on using a feature. Help from Aprio ensures rapid response and lightens your board administrator’s workload. 

And if your board members ever feel like they need a refresher training course, we offer continuous training at no extra cost, so directors can sign up at any time, for any reason. 

“Aprio is simpler to use [than Diligent], and as valuable to us as the technology is – the exceptional support from the Aprio team makes a huge difference. We had a few challenges getting up and running but any concerns were solved very quickly. Since then, we’ve had no issues. We know though, that if any concerns arise, we will be well cared for.”

– Sylvie Lemieux-Comtois, Human Resources Manager and Board Administrator, Fort McMurray Airport Authority

Use your tech strength to aid recruitment and rapid director onboarding

When your board has a board management solution in place, it can be an advantage in attracting next gen board members. Directors evaluate board opportunities in part based on the time commitment and opportunity to meaningfully contribute in a short time. Board chairs can convey to recruits that meeting prep is made convenient for directors with the support of board portal technology.  

CEOs and chairs can also assure director recruits that board orientation is quick, with the board portal providing self-serve access to critical board background information. This information is also easily searchable, helping board members to ready themselves to make a valuable contribution at board meetings from day one. Aprio also provides instant, anytime access to important board dates and contact information. 

“New directors who haven’t seen Aprio before are immediately impressed with how quickly they can get up to speed. Directors have busy lives. They’re running their own businesses and have many commitments. Aprio keeps them looped in, easily, all year round, and they offer helpful support that’s flexible, no matter how tech-savvy a director is.”

– John Haines, Board Chair, Your Neighbourhood Credit Union

Happy businessman talking to colleagues around at a board meeting using board portal software.

The results: an engaged and accountable board of directors

When the board chair and CEO play an active role in board portal adoption and its ongoing success, the results can be amazing. Let’s take a deeper look at what this success can look like.

Director engagement during and between meetings

With Aprio, directors have 24/7 access to board pack materials that they can read on any device. All board information, both current and historical, is easily retrievable and searchable. By providing equal and efficient access to board information for all directors, Aprio support board goals on diversity and inclusion. 

While board meetings tend to favour the loudest voice in the room, board portal technology supports inclusion on the board, giving directors a way to ask questions, annotate documents, and raise their concerns online before and between board meetings.

Online voting in Aprio is another way to solicit input from all directors. Each vote carries equal weight and it’s possible to come to a consensus on a time-sensitive issue quickly and efficiently.

Keep directors accountable

A board portal enables directors to easily prepare for meetings, while also holding them accountable for doing so. 

With easy access to information, directors are much more likely to be engaged. However, all boards need to manage engagement proactively. Aprio reports show login behaviours of directors, and if anyone isn’t accessing board materials ahead of the meeting, the chair can have a one-on-one meeting with the director to learn about and resolve what’s getting in the way.

“With Aprio, you see directors preparing weeks in advance, going to documents numerous times versus the director that only begins prep an hour before the meeting. It gives us visibility into each of directors’ participation.”

– John Haines, Board Chair, Your Neighbourhood Credit Union

Retaining a highly engaged board of directors goes hand in hand with running efficient meetings and enabling efficient communications. The sooner your board adopts a progressive technology solution to run better board meetings, the sooner you’ll overcome the obstacles to having an informed and engaged board of directors.

If you haven’t already, talk with us about the other benefits of adopting board portal software for your board. And feel free to check out our case studies, which include stories from switchers like you.

Read the stories of other boards that switched to Aprio

Curious? Find out more.

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