Impact of a Board of Directors Portal on Governance | Aprio
Best corporate board practices
June 23, 2021
Karen Peacey

How does a board of directors portal impact board governance?

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 their 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 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.

Technology helps uphold board management best practices 

A board governance portal 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 board management software, confidential documents are kept safe and secure, and directors can easily access materials, participate in discussions, and answer surveys – essential components for ensuring business continuity in the event of an emergency, natural disaster, or a disruptive public health crisis like COVID-19. 

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.

Best corporate board practices

A board of directors portal provides secure record & audit-ready archive

Board agendas and meeting minutes prove that boards are doing their best to oversee the organization’s operations and departments. 

A board portal solution 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.

Efficiency is an important part of good governance

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.

Best corporate board practices

Board portals enforce transparency & financial oversight

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 a board portal software solution 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 governance software protects security

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. If a device containing board materials is lost or stolen, your admin can remotely wipe its data to ensure the information stays secure.

Board portals deliver what directors want – productive, strategic meetings

Researchers with the Rotman School of Management performed a comprehensive study to uncover what behaviours and governance practices 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.

Here’s how Aprio’s board of directors portal can help your board spend more time on strategy:

  • Answer background questions before the meeting – It is a common frustration that meeting time gets wasted answering background questions versus getting to strategic discussion. Aprio provides every director with the agenda and related documents in advance of meetings. Ask directors to submit their questions using Aprio discussion tools. Chairs can decide which are key for meeting discussion, and answer in advance any background questions that need not consume precious meeting time.
  • Right topics and time allocations on agendas — Before setting an agenda, compare it to agendas recently used. Are the agendas working to engage director in strategic forward-looking decisions? Are there regular areas where you go over schedule? Use Aprio to set up a poll for board members to ask if they feel key topics are being addressed, whether there is enough time set to talk strategy? Tune your agenda based on the data you discover.  
  • Streamline agenda planning — With Aprio, you can create agenda templates for efficient repeat use and set efficient time limits for topics. Speed up meeting set up and help directors stay on the topics vital to your organization’s success.

Ready to evaluate how a board portal can help your board maintain good governance? Book a custom demo with Aprio and we’ll show you how.

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