Corporate governance refers to how boards of directors work collectively to direct and steward an organization. Good corporate governance encompasses how boards carry out their duties to oversee the organization so that it best achieves its vision and supports the needs of shareholders and stakeholders.
Achieving good governance requires a focus on the outputs of the board in terms of oversight and quality decisions, and how the board and leadership operates including transparent and open communication, engaging all directors in decisions, and keeping board information secure. Technology can play a critical role in supporting good board governance and increasing board effectiveness.
The right board portal software helps a board maintain good governance by making it easier to prepare for board meetings and engage everyone on the board – while keeping documents and materials easy to access and secure.
A board of directors platform is technology that provides members with a centralized library where they can access all board materials, including agendas, minutes, financial statements, and the next meeting’s board package. Communicating via the board portal eliminates the risks of using email, which is insecure, or distributing paper packets, which can get lost.
In a board of directors portal, confidential documents are kept safe and secure, and directors can easily access materials, participate in discussions, and answer surveys.
Boards already using board portal software when the COVID-19 pandemic hit were easily able to pivot to working and holding meetings remotely because documents and discussions were accessible online from their smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
Just like organizations have business continuity plans for maintaining essential operations in times of disruption, good corporate governance requires that boards have a plan to continue meetings and essential decisions during times of disruption or crisis.
Board agendas and meeting minutes prove that boards are doing their best to oversee the organization’s operations and departments.
A board of directors platform provides an automatic archive and audit trail, with meeting minutes, motions, and reports logged in a library for anyone with the right privileges to access. Should you ever be audited or have to deal with legal action, your records are organized and simple to locate. Admins can grant temporary access to specific documents to auditors or legal counsel.
Board portals are the fastest and most efficient way to create board books, board agendas, and board minutes. A quality board portal is one secure platform that incorporates and fully integrates multiple processes, reducing the time administrators and directors spend preparing for board meetings.
Board directors can access board materials, reports, and documents remotely at any time of day or night while using any electronic device. They can make annotations to documents that are captured and recorded. Most importantly, they can get updates and other information in real time. The ability to send updates from within the board portal, which are dispatched to board members at the same time, means each member is on equal footing when it comes to access to important information.
When board members have sufficient time to review documents ahead of a meeting, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the drafting of the agenda, the meeting itself will be more productive and the board will in turn offer stronger corporate governance to its organization.
New directors will contribute faster if your board engages in efficient onboarding. The new board member can easily review historical discussions and important background documents in the board portal. If attracting younger board members with unique skill sets and diverse backgrounds is one of your priorities, using an effective technology solution will make your board more attractive to a new recruit and signal that your community is committed to effective, transparent communication.
Important decisions sometimes must occur between meetings. Voting via board meeting software makes decision-making transparent and provides equitable input and influence for all directors. By using the board portal to send updates and alerts to the board at the same time, you’ll remove the temptation of only communicating with an inner circle or subgroup by email. When a group of directors is excluded from communication and doesn’t have full visibility into a decision, you’re likely not practicing good governance.
Part of a board’s role is having financial oversight over its organization. In the case of a credit union, the board must approve all major loans – and it’s a serious violation if they don’t. While board portal software won’t immediately fix any and all dysfunction or secrecy among directors, it does encourage a culture of transparency because it can record critical financial discussions, whether that’s about loans, debt consolidation, or the CEO’s compensation. And the software is affordable and easy to use, making it an easy case to make as a board expenditure.
Board management best practices include the secure storage of confidential documents to ensure accountability for shareholders, stakeholders, employees, and the general public.
Electronic document storage also needs to be safe. Board documents that are accurate and safely maintained prove that the board is giving due diligence to strategic planning and other board matters. Board governance software makes it easy to keep your documents safe and secure and access board intelligence. If a device containing board materials is lost or stolen, your admin can remotely wipe its data to ensure the information stays secure.
Researchers with the Rotman School of Management performed a comprehensive study to uncover what behaviours and governance solutions by the board led to better organization performance overall. Effective board meetings came through as the top factor to improved organization performance.
According to the Rotman study, the most effective board meetings are those that maximize the time spent discussing strategy, rather than routine business. Many board members report that time allocation is a major problem for their boards, with time being wasted on less important items while strategic- or vision-related issues are left to the end. The focus is too often on where an organization has been when it should be on where it is headed.
Now that you’ve seen some of the benefits of implementing board management software, how can you ensure a smooth and effective implementation for your board to adopt this technology? Here are some best practices to consider.
Define your objectives: clearly define why your board needs a board portal in the first place. What are you hoping it achieves? Outline your top goals such as improving communication, enhancing collaboration, or increasing board efficiency, or saving time on meeting preparation. By clearly defining your goals, you’ll be able to measure if the adoption was successful.
Engage key stakeholders: Involve board members, executives, administrators and IT teams, especially at the early stages such as which board portal you’ll be shortlisting. Ensure their input has been captured and you understand the unique needs and concerns of all those who may use the platform. For example, while security will be the top priority for IT teams, from a board administrator perspective, they’ll be looking for a board portal that’s easy to use and helps them save time when preparing board packets. You’ll need to carefulyl balance and consider the needs of all your stakeholders.
Review security and compliance: Data security and compliance are critical considerations so you’ll need to choose a service provider you can count on that offers robust security measures, such as encryption, user access controls, and regular audits. Ensure the portal complies with relevant regulations or other industry-specific requirements.
Include comprehensive training: ensure board members and administrators are offered multiple sessions and options to get to know the portal’s features and functionality. Be sure your platform also offers ongoing support to address any questions or issues that may arise. Users must be comfortable and confident in using the technology for your board portal implementation to be successful.
There are numerous benefits for board governance when using a board portal – it enhances collaboration among board members, streamlines administrative processes and improves decision-making. Plus, you’ll get a clear view into board activities and decisions, promoting trust and accountability. It also serves as a powerful tool for better board education and training, enabling effective director onboarding and continuous learning opportunities.
Ready to evaluate how a board of director portal can help your board maintain good governance and make meeting management efficient? Book a demo with one of our product specialists and we’ll show you how.
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