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You’ve heard that board portal software can help your board save time, increase productivity and make faster strategic decisions. But what exactly is a board portal, how does it really help board admins and directors, and what are the benefits?
In this practical guide, get up to speed with everything board portal software including the must-have features, security considerations, and how to choose the right-fit board portal.
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Board portals are a centralized, highly secure, online hub designed for both board directors and administrators to manage board meetings, access board documents, communicate with each other, and streamline governance processes. The software is typically cloud-based and is accessible through desktop and mobile devices.
For directors, board portal software offers confidential access to board materials, both past and present, and provides tools to prepare for board of director meetings, including note-taking and access to historical information. Directors leading committees are also provided with the tools to communicate efficiently with other board members and keep an audit trail of activity for governance reporting.
For board administrators and corporate secretaries, board portals make it easier to prepare for and conduct board and committee meetings – from sending out board packages to taking meeting minutes to distributing action items. Board portal software also keeps board information fully secure as it improves information flow to and among busy board members, even as they travel.
While many board portal software capabilities are similar, the essential board software features you’ll want to look for include:
Compared to other solutions, Aprio offers easy-to-use features that are straightforward for both board admins and directors to learn, paired with unmatched service. Our user-friendly and intuitive navigation system makes access to board files, upcoming meetings, action items, and everything else board members and governance leaders need at their fingertips.
Cybersecurity is top of mind for boards who need to keep sensitive and confidential data secure. The good news is that security is one of the primary advantages of board portal software, and can help derisk issues such as board members losing their device or laptop or downloading documents on public wifi.
However, not all board portal software offers the same data protection or security measures. At a minimum, secure board portal software should include:
Evaluating and comparing board portal security? See our cybersecurity checklist.
For boards not yet using a board portal, traditional board meeting preparation and document management may use patchwork solutions like distributing PDFs, or using Dropbox and email, or the old-fashioned way: with couriers and binders of paper documents. Either way, preparing multiple documents, shared via email or courier, is time-consuming and can be costly.
Even worse, updates to the board sometimes get lost or confusing. Sorting out late or missing documents at every board meeting cuts into time better spent on more important agenda items. And if individual directors make one-off requests for updates in between meetings, this is a risk that board directors aren’t updated equitably.
Compared to the traditional way of managing board meetings, board portal software keeps your documents secure and makes sure your board members are looking at the right current versions to make meetings more efficient. And the transition is easier and smoother than you think.
With Aprio’s board portal, the board administrator shares secure links to board materials in an email to all directors at once. The links route directors to the current editions if there are updates. During meetings, directors log in to Aprio for instant access to information linked to the agenda. Between meetings, board members search for information, like past meeting minutes, or upcoming meeting dates, quickly and easily on multiple electronic devices.
“The efficiency of providing Board information to our Directors has improved immensely using Aprio. Staff time in preparing meeting packages has been greatly reduced. The speed at which the Directors can obtain reference information has also vastly improved because they now know it exists and don’t have to contact the Credit Union to obtain it. Aprio has made our governance practices so much easier and more effective.” – Elaine Hasemore, Assistant to the Board of Directors, BlueShore Financial
From boards of health organizations to public companies, credit unions, education institutions, and publicly-funded societies, board-led organizations are striving to operate with high impact and strong corporate governance.
Boards look to board meeting software to protect the security of board materials, best engage directors by making communication convenient, and reduce the time spent by governance specialists preparing for board meetings.
Emailing or sharing board documents with free editions of software like Dropbox or Google Drive poses real security risks. More sophisticated file-sharing solutions like SharePoint often frustrate directors who struggle to find the right materials within unfamiliar folder names and labelling conventions.
And for organizational efficiency, corporate secretaries and administrators are seeking automation tools to schedule board meetings and perform their work in less time as governance demands grow.
Boards are wise to evaluate what is board portal software and select the board of directors meeting software right for their unique organization needs. Not all board portals are equal. They differ on completeness of features, security, and pricing, as well as on support and training.
To conduct a smart board portal feature comparison, it’s helpful to use a simple checklist. On each of these topics, talk with board members about their needs, frustrations with the current way your board operates and communicates, and then seek a best-fit solution.
Explore how a board portal eases the process for administrators to prepare for board meetings and provide updates to directors when dates or documents change. Consider the routine effort you take today and enquire about what you can automate.
A principle function of board portals is to provide timely, transparent access to board information. Learn about how different products and user interfaces make information access easy. Evaluate what will be intuitive for your board considering your day-in-the-life board activities.
Travel is a routine part of daily life for many directors and executives. For both recruiting high-contributing board members, and for keeping them engaged, technology matters. Explore the conveniences you can offer mobile directors from tablet apps and how you can use on and offline access and support for directors working remotely. Take note of the devices your board members use to probe on board portal capabilities for iPad, Android tablets, and Microsoft Surfaces.
Safeguarding the confidentiality of board documents and communications is a key driver of the shift toward board portals. Consider both the security of board information in a portal and making access secure but simple for directors. Data location is another factor to consider. Some board portal providers give customers a choice of where their data is located, which affects national policies applied on how data is protected and may be accessed.
Board portal software has no impact on efficiency or security unless it’s adopted by your whole board. Understand the help and support different vendors offer to implement your board information and schedules online, and the programs they offer to provide ongoing training and support throughout your time as a customer.
How can you ensure that the tool you select today will evolve along with governance best practices and the needs of your organization? Ask about future product updates and how your voice as a customer in product development can have an impact.
Next to product ease and reliability, service is the biggest deciding factor on whether customers are happy with a software vendor or quickly move on. Talk with peers and references that have used the board of directors portal you are considering. Ask about their experience with implementation and their first board meeting, and how new feature requests and product issues are resolved over time.
Because board portal software is used by some of the most influential and time-starved people in your organization, it is paramount that help is highly professional and useful. Consider calling a vendor’s support line to test the customer service support you’ll receive. Role play being a director and being a board administrator.
While the functionality of some board portal software may be comparable, there is variation in pricing. In particular, some vendors have different product editions, some with “lite” features and some with full features. Other vendors charge extra for additional committees and administrators, training, or for amounts of data storage. Ensure you ask about starter fees and all possible add-ons.
Going through a software assessment process, you get to experience a vendor’s people, marketing, their responsiveness, and their helpfulness. You get to know their technology, their pricing, and some of their familiarity with your needs and industry. Give balanced consideration to all 10 factors and you will gain a sense of the board portal software that is your best fit.
Now that you’ve learned what is board portal software, want to get started with your evaluation? Let us help. Get a tour of the Aprio board portal – we’ll be straight with you about whether or not we’re your best fit.
How do boards get the most out of a board portal? With standout time-saving features to practice good governance in less time.
Your board portal should help you prep digital board packages in minutes, not hours. And it should get easier by reusing existing templates. Compared to other board portals, our board packet creation is intuitive and simple for board admins to use. Automatically build an agenda based on your meeting materials by importing folders and any document type, or you can reuse an existing template. Plus add new topics and sub-topics as you need.
Get your meeting minutes done faster than ever with Aprio’s minutes builder. This feature provides you with a starter board meeting minutes template that pre-populates items such as the list of attendees, meeting date and location, and the items in your board meeting agenda. Then record minutes as the meeting unfolds, track motions and action items, assign an approver or a coauthor – all in one place.
Board members and admins need to stay on top of action items and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. With Aprio’s Task Manager feature, board members can see their task list, can set priorities and track completion right in the Aprio dashboard. Trigger notifications are automatically sent to board members when they are assigned a new task.
Board members shouldn’t have to fumble to find the meeting details or switch to a specific videoconferencing solution. Aprio’s board portal integrates with web conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and GoToMeeting. Directors can join the remote meetings with one-click right from the dashboard.
Need a refresher on how to get the most out of your board portal? Aprio has you covered. We offer unlimited comprehensive training at any time, so your board is well-prepared – even if new members join later. And if you need any technical support during a board meeting, you’ll get responsive expert help from a former board administrator who knows firsthand the stresses and urgencies of boards.
Now that you’re more familiar with board portals, the benefits, and how to choose the right fit board portal, what does the future hold for board portal software?
The rise of cyber threats including ransomware will continue to challenge corporate governance. And that means more boards will continue to move away from using email and shared drives and choose secure board portal software to keep their data safe.
Even boards with board portal software already in place will regularly re-assess the security of their board portal every few years to ensure it still condoms to the highest industry standards for data encryption and security controls.
Long-term profitability will be a direct tie to how well organizations perform on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. This means boards must demonstrate transparency in their board governance including diversity of board membership.
Board portals will become necessary tools to support boards that need an automated audit trail of governance activities as the board operates in real time. And as board shake-ups become more commonplace, board portals will become must-have tools to support the continuity of the board.
Technology like board portal software will play a critical role in achieving board governance and increasing board effectiveness. But who’s leading and supporting board transparency and integrity of board governance will shift beyond the board of directors itself.
Board secretaries, executive administrators, and governance leads are increasingly playing this critical oversight role. And that means they’ll need the right tools to support board governance as well as be recognized for their contribution.
Despite return-to-office initiatives and hybrid work models, virtual meetings are still on the rise. For boards, that means more directors will expect they can work from anywhere. Board materials must be easily accessible and plan for remote or hybrid board meetings to continue. Board portal software mobile applications that are easy to use and available any device are no longer nice to have but essential.
Discover why hundreds of admins and board members love Aprio board portal software. We top the charts for positive customer reviews by providing advanced security, complete features, and standout time savings tools like our automated agenda builder, meeting minute builder and comprehensive reports! Aprio stands out against our competitors for providing a user friendly, secure board portal with unmatched expert service.
Make sure to include Aprio in your comparison of the best board portal software available. Ready to see Aprio’s board portal software in action? We’d love to give you a personalized tour. Start by booking a free demo.
One of our product specialists will give you a 30-min tour of our board management software
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