Run more productive board meetings with a board portal | Aprio
Women talking with colleagues in a meeting
August 20, 2019
Karen Peacey

Run better, more productive board meetings with a board portal

Even though the board meeting has come to an end, your directors linger in the room, enthusiastically discussing how to best tackle the latest challenges. Sound familiar? If not, read on.

We all know the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a productive board meeting. Directors feel valued and engaged, and board leaders feel that the time spent organizing the meeting was well spent. But effective board meetings don’t just feel inspiring, as research from the Rotman School of Management reported; they are also a top factor in improved organizational performance.

However, we also know that productive board meetings don’t just happen. They take a lot of advance prep work and require the right tools to streamline board management and communications. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why some board meetings aren’t up to snuff and what you can do to overcome these common challenges.

Reasons for frustration in the boardroom

There are a few common hitches that can make board meetings go wrong, or even just run unreasonably long. They include:

  1. Hard-to-access board materials – when the board meeting package arrives late or updates cause confusion on what is “the right version” to review,  directors are much more likely to arrive to board meetings unprepared and disengaged.
  2. Unclear agendas – boilerplate or vague agendas don’t give directors a reason to attend and contribute strategically. Likewise, if background information isn’t provided on a strategic agenda item, the meeting conversation is unlikely to be productive.
  3. Lack of director discussion between meetings – if the only time directors get to share thoughts, ask questions, and collaborate is at the board meeting, then meetings will tend to run long, with the chair struggling to push through discussion to get to decisions. 
  4. Meeting time consumed on background for new directors – every board is braving the reality of shorter director terms and continuous recruitment. But spending board meetings catching up newcomers will hamper your pace of strategic decisions and bore your veteran board members who have valuable insights to share.

Features of the best run board meetings

So what makes for a better board meeting? Here are some key elements of effective board meetings:

  1. Accessible, online board materials – make all board materials easy to view, search, and add notes to with a board portal. Log in to see complete information, including the latest versions of materials with no confusion around updates. Travelling? No problem. Board materials can be accessed through mobile devices, both online and offline.
  2. Electronic agendas with links to key background info – take the time to consider which strategic topics are right year round, then pre-save strong agendas in the portal – so no matter how hectic it gets, you avoid the risk of re-using last month’s agenda. Link right from the agenda topics to materials for review, and make it easy for directors to foresee meeting dates on the calendar. If a meeting date is moved, directors are instantly updated. 
  3. Easy between-meeting collaboration – invite directors to share their questions or comments with their fellow board members. Encourage pre-meeting discussion with the chair or peer directors to ensure everyone has background questions answered to focus meeting time on discussion and decisions.
  4. Efficient onboarding of new board members – new directors are a welcome fresh perspective and energy boost to a board. They can be valuable contributors as soon as they have base education on the organization and the industry – so do that effectively and quickly with online learning tools, including a library of archived board reports and minutes. 

The tools to run the best board meetings

With so many moving parts, it’s important to have the right tools in place to facilitate better board meeting management and communications, like board portal software.

Board management software enhances meeting efficiency and makes the work of board members and admins more convenient. Board portal software provides you with the tools and automation you need to build clear and informative agendas, provide convenient and effective meeting prep, facilitate discussions between meetings, and onboard new board members efficiently.

Here are some more reasons why the leading organizations across North America turn to board portal systems like Aprio to run better board meetings.

Improve meeting prep

We’re all busy people. Directors are often travelling, and may sit on multiple boards or have other jobs. Board admins are also busy people with demanding schedules. Why should anyone need to spend countless hours trying to make sure everyone has access to the latest board materials when it could be as simple as clicking a button? 

Directors will no longer need to carry around a highlighter and pen to take notes on paper board materials. They’ll be able to add their annotations directly to digital documents, even while they’re offline. If needed, they can also share their notes with other board members. 

Admins can also add links to agendas, allowing directors to quickly and easily access the right documents without having to search through endless files or email swirls. This allows directors to come to meetings more prepared.

Timely, inclusive access to updates

Creating a board culture of inclusion – which means same time access to same board communication – is job #1 for a board chair looking to create a board that invites every member to have an equal voice. Inviting input through voting, polls, and online discussion is a valuable way to invite every director to have their say beyond board meetings.

Additionally, when board admins have to replace a board document with a newer version, it’s no longer a hassle to update directors. Admins can upload the new version directly to Aprio, and an automatic notification alerts all directors of the update. Version confusion ceases to exist.

Improve boardroom communication and onboarding

Board portals like Aprio provide a centralized forum for board members to collaborate in real time between board meetings. With a board portal, older board materials are easily accessible and searchable in the Library. This is particularly useful for new directors during their onboarding, and is also convenient for any board member who wants to reference previous materials.

Safeguard your security

Board portal software like Aprio allows directors to be confident that they are discussing confidential issues and reviewing documents in a secure online environment. Even if a director loses a device, the board’s app data can be cleared remotely to eliminate hacker risk. The director can then still easily access all their board meeting materials by logging into their board portal software on another device.

Aprio board portal software conforms to the highest security standards in the industry and its international servers adhere to independent, third-party requirements for security certification. Administrators have full control over access permissions for committees, sub-committees, and even individuals, so only those who need to see documents are able to do so.

Let us help

Interested in learning more about how a board portal can help you to run better meetings? Check out our board portal evaluation guide, or if you’d rather see a demo of a board portal in action, contact us to set up a time for a call.

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