Comparing Board Portal Vendors in 2021 | Aprio
Pen making checkmark when researching a board portal feature comparison
June 12, 2021
Dee Sicklesteel

Evaluating board portal vendors 2021: Top 10 board portal feature comparisons

Gartner predicts that 80 per cent of board-run organizations use collaboration systems that are specifically intended to support the unique needs of a board. So what is the value of board portal software and how do you pick a tool that’s right for you? Read our board portal feature comparisons.

Why is everyone shifting to a board portal?

Years back, paper board binders being heavy to lug and costly to produce and courier was a major motivator for companies to go paperless. Today, there are more modern drivers making boards adopt board portals: security and efficiency.

“The use of purpose-built content sharing and distribution portals has become a common practice for sharing sensitive documents with corporate directors in preparation for board meetings.”
Gartner

Emailing board documents or sharing with free editions of software like Dropbox or Google Drive poses real security risks. More sophisticated file-sharing solutions like SharePoint often frustrate directors who struggle to find the right materials within unfamiliar folder names and labelling conventions. On the efficiency front, many boards are seeking to best engage high-contributing directors, which means offering online convenience. And for organizational efficiency, corporate secretaries and administrators are seeking automation tools to perform their work in less time as governance demands grow.

What is a board portal?

In case you haven’t already used board portal software, it’s like a web application that executives and directors log into to perform their role for an organization’s Board of Directors. A board portal offers directors confidential access to board materials, past and present, and provides tools that make it easier for administrators to prepare for board meetings and conduct committee activities. Board portals also improve information flow to and among busy board members even as they travel.

Aprio on multiple devices board portal software vendors

Top ranked benefits of the best board portals

  • Instant, same-time delivery of sensitive updates and document revisions to board members at any time, regardless of location.
  • Centralized access to meeting materials, communications, policies, bylaws, and archives within a highly reliable, secure portal.
  • Secure online note taking and collaborating for Directors, with the option of a clean swipe of all communication once the Board makes a decision.
  • Increased efficiency to produce & distribute board books and other documents.
  • Increased efficiency to schedule and reschedule meetings.
  • Increased security, including protection for confidential documents, and built-in safeguards to prevent accidental email transmissions.

How do you pick the best board portal software?

There are many different board portals available on the market. How do you choose one right for your organization?

As Gartner reported in their Market Guide for Board Portals, “The majority of boards have very similar processes, and board portals have very similar feature sets.” With most board portal software performing similar functions, it’s very important to evaluate service, pricing and track record with organizations similar to yours.

Top 10 things to compare – easy board portal software comparison

Conduct a smart, efficient board portal product comparison with a simple checklist. Use the Board Portal Buying Guide to find a tool that’s right for you. Download the free Board Portal Buying Guide.

1. Board administration & management tools

Explore how a board portal eases the process for administrators to prepare for board meetings and provide updates to directors when dates or documents change. Consider the routine effort you take today and enquire about how much time you can save. 

Questions to ask

  • How easy is the software to use?
  • During a demo, ask yourself whether there’s a logical flow. Is the software user-friendly and intuitive? Does it work the way you work? Is your first impression “I get this,” and is the experience easy to follow?
  • On average, how much time do most of the vendor’s customers save when using their solution?

2. Director access & collaboration

A principle function of board portals is to provide timely, transparent access to board information. Assess the ease-of-use of different products. What will be intuitive for your board?

Questions to ask

  • What tools are built into the software to facilitate secure director access and collaboration?

3. Mobility & convenient engagement

Travel is a routine part of daily life for many directors and executives. Both for recruiting high-contributing board members, and for keeping them engaged, technology matters. Explore the conveniences you can offer mobile directors, including tablet apps, offline access, support for remote approvals, and more. 

Questions to ask

  • Does the vendor provide board portal apps to be used on tablets?
  • Can board materials be accessed offline?

4. Security

Safeguarding the confidentiality of board documents and communication is a key motivator for boards to use a board portal. Select software that both secures board materials and makes accessing information simple for directors.

Questions to ask

  • How does the vendor guarantee secure storage of documents and board communication? 
  • Is there a choice of location for data hosting and processes in emergencies? 
  • If a director loses a mobile device, can their board data be deleted remotely?

5. Getting started & adoption ease

Software has no impact on efficiency or security unless it’s adopted by your whole board. Understand the help that vendors offer to get your whole board using their technology. Do they provide personal training for both board admins and directors? Do they give guidance on portal set up

Questions to ask

  • What kind of training will I get?
  • Will I be shown how to upload documents, create library folders, and master different features?
  • What training is available for new directors or administrators who join at a later date?
  • When you adopt the board portal, what happens to your existing data?

6. Technology innovation

How can you ensure the tool you select today will evolve along with governance best practices and the needs of your organization? 

Questions to ask

  • What is on the vendor’s product roadmap? 
  • How will your voice as a customer be incorporated into future product development?

7. Reputation & service

Next to product ease and reliability, service is the biggest deciding factor on whether customers are happy with a software vendor or quickly move on. Vendors who stand behind the performance of their products will also be happy to provide testimonials and references from their customers.

Talk with peers who use the product. Ask about their service experiences and how issues were resolved. You can also go back to the questions on this list. How do they rate the ease of use and level of security? Does the vendor follow through on its promise of great service and support? 

8. Support

Because a board portal is used by some of the most influential and time-starved people in your organization, it’s paramount that help is highly professional and useful. Consider calling a vendor’s support line to test the support you’ll receive. 

Questions to ask

  • Is it necessary to contact the vendor to set up meetings, add directors, upload materials, adjust license assignment, or pull information for governance reporting? These should be self-serve functions.
  • What’s the support response time? 
  • Does the vendor offer 24/7 availability? 
  • Who answers the phone when you call for support? Where is the call centre located? 
  • Is there ongoing training available, like webinars? 
  • How does the vendor notify you about new product features?

9. Pricing

It’s buyer beware when it comes to board portal pricing. Be on the lookout for vendors that demo full-featured software then share pricing for “lite” products. 

Questions to ask

  • Are you seeing a demo of the premium version?
  • What are the extra fees for adding groups or committees, adding administrators, ongoing training for all levels of users, reports, training, and mobile apps? Make sure to keep in mind that product pricing is extremely important in order to truly weigh your potential ROI and make a solid argument when building your business case.
  • Will the fee structure change as your needs change, for example when you use more data storage?

10. Best overall fit

While conducting a software assessment, you’ll meet the people on different vendors’ teams. Consider the help they provide, their responsiveness, and interactions with your team. Which vendor is the best fit? 

Some final thoughts on choosing board portal vendors: how Aprio offers the best value

While most board software may seem the same on the surface, there are big differences in customer service quality and overall price among board portal software offerings. This leaves boards in the position of deciding which portal offers the best value.

Here’s a rundown of how Aprio offers better value than its competitors.

Aprio costs half as much. And we don’t charge extra for training.

Aprio software is priced 50% lower than its main competitors. It’s our mission to make good governance affordable for boards of any size, not just those from the Fortune 500 crowd.

Our software licensing price includes initial training for administrators and directors, and any ongoing training you may need. Your subscription includes 25 user licences – any number of which can be administrators — and unlimited committees at no extra cost. The annual fee gives you access to both desktop and mobile applications.

Other board portals take an à la carte approach to extra fees and services. Access to training and adding committees are generally both options, but they’ll cost you more money on top of what you’re already paying for the software itself.

Aprio’s board portal software offers all the same tools and features you need to better manage your boards: a library of current and past board materials, calendars, annotations, decision tracking, desktop and remote access, attendance reports, surveys, remuneration and expense tracking, and many more. There’s no reason to pay double for these same features if you don’t have to.

We’re always around to help you (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Board portal software is useless if you can’t use it properly. We know how frustrating it is to encounter unhelpful — or even rude — customer support representatives when under a time crunch while preparing for a board meeting.

Got a burning question at 11 p.m. and your board meeting is tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.? We’ve got friendly people on the other end of the phone or computer 24/7 to help you with advice or to walk you through a challenging task.

We also offer ongoing webinars and quarterly outreach. Providing you with prompt, accessible and exceptional service is our priority.

At the end of the day, we understand your needs.

We know that administrators and directors need access to technology that makes maintaining good governance straightforward and affordable. Board members and administrators are busy and hardworking, and we aim to support you with the best value software to run your meetings smoothly.

Financial institutions, crown corporations, non-profits and public companies choose Aprio board portal software because it helps them achieve transparent communication, make efficient decisions and run board meetings well — all for the best value in the industry.

Aprio Board Portal Buying Guide

Other useful links:

Look how Aprio ranks in the Gartner Market Guide for Board Portals.

Try Aprio – the board portal making good governance simple and affordable with 99% customer loyalty. Request A Demo.

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