Is your current board portal a fit – stay or switch? | Aprio
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May 22, 2018
Karen Peacey

Is your board portal a fit – stay or switch?

Recently, we got frustrated with our help desk software. Meetings were held where we talked about how these two or three things about the software were so frustrating! There may have been fists pounded on tables, and suddenly we were off googling alternate solutions – of which there are many.

Fast-forward three weeks and we’ve done two other product trials, and a 1-hour training session with support folks for our current software. Turns out we stayed with our current system and can do everything we wanted. Would you believe our frustrations were mostly (sheepish confession) lack of knowledge about how best to use new features?

The thing is, we all worry after a few years of using a solution that maybe there’s something better out there, something cheaper, something popular and shiny. Sometimes it’s worth a switch. And sometimes we’re just restless.

If you’re reassessing your board portal, here are some lessons we learned on making a wise, fast decision on whether to stay or switch.

5 smart steps to reassessing your board portal

Step 1 – Identify problems or limits that are frustrating

Write a quick list. Are there features that don’t seem to deliver as promised? In a perfect world, what do you wish you could achieve in the board portal that you cannot?

It might be things like: I wish I could add directors without calling someone. I wish the calendar worked more like my Outlook calendar. I wish our annotations didn’t get lost when a new document version got updated. I wish I could pay less but not give up vital features. Also record whether the issue is long-standing or a recent glitch?

Step 2 – Identify what is working well

Mostly we skip over this part when we’re frustrated. We get fixated on the things not working. But it’s important once that venting is done to take stock of the bigger picture.

With a board portal, here are some themes to consider, every organization will have unique priorities in what they value most:

  • Board meeting management
    • Is meeting setup easy, time efficient?
    • Is it easy to set up “board ready” spiffy agenda with links to board materials?
    • Is it easy to prep board documents in any format?
    • Is it easy to amend a meeting date or documents?
  • Admin control / Member management
    • Is it easy to add or delete board members / committees yourself?
    • Is it possible to have exec assistants looped in?
  • Director communication / Reporting
    • Are directors satisfied with how they receive info?
    • Do login reports show that directors are using the solution?
    • Is the mobile edition of the software handy and efficient for directors on the go?
  • Security
    • Is your IT team satisfied with the security of the tool?
    • Can you wipe data if a device is lost?
  • Support & Training?
    • Are your questions answered thoroughly and in a timely manner by support?
    • Is there continuous training on new features or refreshers on the basics?
    • Do you have to pay more for director training or repeat refresher training?
  • Cost
    • Is the annual cost of the board portal software reasonable?
    • Do you know if you could get the same features, security and support for less?

Step 3 – Book a support session with current provider

This might not seem essential. After all, you’ve spent lots of time using you current portal. But there just might be benefits of your current software that you are missing. Maybe you are using some functionality in an inefficient way without knowing it. Or maybe, and there’s no shame in this, you overlooked some valuable new features because you’ve been really busy.

We suggest being open with your provider that you like some things about their tool but some things are frustrating you. Send your summary of dislikes to the support team and ask them to propose a time to discuss the concerns.

After taking this step, you come away with a clear sense of the potential of using your current software.  You’re ready for a worthwhile comparison to other tools, or else you’ve realized it’s worth staying loyal.

Step 4 – Try on other tools

(What? If you’re an Aprio customer reading this you might be shocked that we’re okay with shopping around. We respect that customers occasionally need to reassess, and we believe you deserve the best. We’re also determined to win your loyalty. Aprio routinely benchmarks our software against the competition to be sure that our technology and support are tops, and at the best price.)

It can be worthwhile to conduct a quick trial of a couple other tools. Beware of the impression of a quick demo (it’s like a first date – everything seems rosy) and insist on actually trying the tools at common tasks such as setting up a meeting, annotating documents, adding directors and so on. Be disciplined in how you score each tool – ideally building a a checklist of functionality for comparison. You can start with your “What’s working right list” “What’s frustrating” list and be sure to mark deal breaker functionality that you are not willing to give up.

Be cautious about just comparing price without fully understanding the functionality you get for that price. Aprio provides premium features at one affordable price. But others have tiered products and may give you a trial of the gold edition and a price pitch for bronze.

Also seriously assess security and support. On the support front, we suggest calling every vendor’s support line. Maybe role-play that you’ve lost your password just to see how long it takes for your call to be answered and how helpful the person is who picks up.

Step 5 – Pick the best-fit software + support for your needs

After steps 1-4, try and allow at least a week of “digest” time to let the heat of the moment cool. Then ask your review team what tool they would prefer to use today after everything learned? We suggest giving the administrators vote extra weight. If everyone else gets 1 vote, give the admin 2 as the bulk of board management success comes from the administrator’s efficiency. So – is the majority vote to switch or stay?

Circling back to our help desk software assessment, it took us learning how to best use our current solution and discovering that other tools offered fewer features, and higher costs, to decide to confidently stay put. As a software company we have very high expectations of the impact of technology – those high standards inspire us to deliver top value to our users everyday.

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