February 26, 2019
Ian Warner

Lagging behind: Why it’s time for North American boards to adopt technology

There are many ways to run a more efficient board: focus on clear board meeting goals, provide directors with thorough briefings, and handle minutes quickly and effectively.

What’s missing too often from that list is the critical role technology must play in helping your organization meet these objectives, ensure due diligence and keep your data private and secure.

A new report from Forrester¹ is sounding the alarm over problematic board practices. It tells us that North American organizations are lagging behind their global peers when it comes to adopting board portal technology. Only 32% of boards in North America said they use board portal software, the lowest usage rate in the world.

As a result, they’re less efficient and missing out on a vital opportunity to safeguard their communications. Even worse, boards are leaving themselves open to devastating and costly cyber attacks.

There’s surprisingly little legislation concerning the security of board communications, but it’s only a matter of time before governing bodies wise up.

Board meeting software is a powerful tool for running better meetings by securely and conveniently distributing briefings and reports to directors.

Here are three ways adopting board portal software protects and benefits your organization:

  1. It keeps your board conversations private and secure

Even with all the worrisome headlines about cyber attacks, boards of directors remain shockingly cavalier about their online security. The Forrester report found that roughly half of board directors are using their private email accounts for board-related communications.

This practice leaves their organizations open to data leaks and breaches. There’s also the risk of losing essential board meeting materials if they forget a password or can’t access their email account. And despite their less-than-secure email practices, the Forrester report found that 41% of board directors were “very concerned about their ability to secure their communications and data sharing.”

Board portal software allows directors to be confident they are discussing confidential issues and reviewing documents in a secure online environment.

Aprio also gives administrators full control over access permissions for committees, sub-committees or even individuals, so only those who need to see documents are able to do so.

  1. It allows for communications efficiency with convenient access to information

To run an efficient board meeting, it’s best that directors have a clear view of the relevant issues before they take a seat the table. This requires both well prepared board briefing materials and convenient distribution, no matter where directors are located.

Board portals play a key role in giving directors timely, instant access to board materials and last-minute updates. The Forrester report found that nearly one third of governance professionals lost a phone, tablet or laptop in the last year. Even if a director loses their device, they can easily access all the board meeting materials by logging into their board portal software on another device. And because the directors are (hopefully) not storing private board data on their device, there’s no risk of a data breach if it goes missing.

Timely and convenient access to documents in the board portal also makes it much easier to navigate a PR crisis or other time-sensitive issue.

  1. It facilitates collaboration and discussion, ahead of the board meeting

The most productive board meetings are ones used for discussing materials or making decisions, instead of catching up on background or rehashing old discussions.

You can make sure this happens by providing directors with a discussion tool to use for conversations before and in between meetings. In the Forrester report, 20% of boards said they’d be more efficient with access to board management software that “allows for document annotation, sharing and transfer.”

Full annotation tools, like those in Aprio, can be used to discuss and collaborate on reports and briefings between meetings, and give directors a chance to ask questions for clarification beforehand. This is especially critical as you onboard new directors. Board document annotations in Aprio can be for personal use or for sharing with other directors.

An efficient board meeting is one that stays on schedule, discusses problems, and finds a way forward.

Ready to see how Aprio software keeps your board secure and efficient? We can show you. Or, download our free Board Portal Buying Guide.

  1. Directors’ Digital Divide: Boardroom Practices Aren’t Keeping Pace With Technology. Forrester Consulting. October 2018.

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