Five years ago, Gartner predicted that by now, 80% of board-run organizations in North America would be using collaboration systems that are specifically designed to support the unique needs of a board.
Research from Forrester,* however, indicates that board portal software usage is lowest in North America. Only 32% of boards currently use it. Board portal software usage is highest in Asia Pacific, with 54% of boards leveraging the technology, followed by 48% of boards in Europe.
Is it misconceptions about the cost of software or ease of implementation? Or could it be that despite the red flags raised by governance organizations and regulators about data security and board technology, it still feels like it’s a nice-to-have, rather than a must-have?
When we’re talking with boards considering board portal software, the biggest questions we hear are: will it be worth it? Will the software adoption and subsequent change in behaviour actually pay off? What’s the ROI on board portal software – bottom line?
Whether organizations are switching from board portal software that’s ineffective or moving to a board portal from SharePoint or paper binders, each and every board is concerned about the return they’ll see on the time, effort, and investment that goes into making a big change.
To help boards of directors evaluate the payback of moving to the best-fit board portal, we sifted through the research as well as surveys and data from our own customers to identify the top 10 benefits reported by board executives, directors, and administrators who’ve used board portal software for a year or more.
Evaluations by hundreds of public companies, financial organizations, public agencies, health and education organizations, and not-for-profit organizations highlight these key time and cost saving impacts of board technology:
Whether a board admin is still using paper binders to prepare for board meetings or cobbling together a solution with Dropbox and email, it’s likely they spend more time than they should assembling board packages. A small change to an agenda could mean a complete overhaul of the package and the need to redistribute new links to directors via email. Aprio offers automated meeting agenda creation as well as digital board packages. If there’s a change to an agenda, it’s simple to send an updated version. ROI: board portal technology commonly reduces the meeting prep process from days to a few hours. For boards going paperless, and printing or courier costs are immediate.
With encryption, system redundancies, and automatic backup functions, Aprio board portal software securely stores board data while offering peace of mind. Administrators have the ability to grant temporary access to auditors or legal counsel. They’re also able to dictate which documents can’t be downloaded or printed. If a board member leaves a phone or computer on a plane, admins can easily remotely wipe the device to prevent a data breach. As well, it’s simple to revoke access for departing board members. ROI on security risk is hard to quantify, but imagine the costs of leaked board information – and know that you’re protected.
With a board portal, directors can log in from anywhere on any device, so it’s simple to review and comment on board material even if directors are not in the office, or even in the country. Board members like that they don’t miss out on vital conversations between meetings, and that pre-meeting collaboration is convenient and easy. If you’re hearing even one director grumble about board information being hard to access, or that they’re missing updates, you may be at risk for bad board engagement. ROI: convenient communication to board members fosters engagement and attendance.
Many of Aprio’s customers come from highly regulated industries – including healthcare – and the robust search capabilities of our board portal same organizations time in gathering information for regulatory reporting. More than that, the board portal keeps an accurate audit trail of the dates key compliance actions took place. ROI: less time on compliance reporting.
Transparency into the activities of any board is a critical part of maintaining good governance. Board portal software makes increasing your board’s transparency simple and easy. It provides an automatic archive and audit trail, with meeting minutes, motions, and information reported logged in a library for anyone with the privileges to access. There’s no risk of communication bias or advance access to select board members because all directors receive electronic notice of changes to meeting timing and requests for votes at the exact same time. ROI: rank among the top corporate governance organizations in North America.
Aprio customers have lived it – office headquarters are off limits during a wildfire and the company IT system goes offline. In the event of a PR crisis, or natural disaster, the Aprio board portal is a secure information back-up of critical information for board and management to move forward with crisis decisions. With instant email alerts that route to secure data links, everyone is kept in the loop and can access vital information without data leak risk. ROI: ensure informed decisions and board continuity in a crisis.
Every director has had the experience of marking up an important paper document and then leaving it at home or the office. It’s easy to make digital annotations in Aprio, which helps you prepare for meetings more efficiently. Directors can simply jot down thoughts or ideas with a couple of taps within the software. They can also highlight significant points in the document that they don’t want to forget or want to point out to a fellow director. When they’re done, they can share the marked-up document with a simple click. ROI: efficient note taking on board materials for personal use or sharing, and never be without prep notes at the board meeting.
It’s up to a board to ensure they’ve developed an internal process to manage the possibility of e-discovery in a future legal case. Being prepared requires both having critical information stored and being able to rapidly search board data archives for key topics, keywords, or key individuals in attendance. ROI: search capabilities in the Aprio board portal help to rapidly find case-related documents, as well as supporting annual record keeping clean up.
“Functionality wise, Aprio provided everything critical to us. Compared to others, Aprio calendaring features are the best, and Aprio’s streamlined steps to schedule or reschedule meetings is critical to us. Contact management – setting up and managing access for board members or committee members – is simplest in Aprio. It’s easy to give users read only versus active access, and that lets us provide the transparency we want across our board, without additional charges to add new committees. The audit trail of motions and meeting information is also stronger in Aprio, considering how we work.”
– Kate MacLeod, Meridian Credit Union (read the full case study)
“The biggest win with Aprio is how much we’ve improved pre-meeting engagement, which has led to more productive meetings and better attendance. The way Aprio pushes out our agenda and meeting reminders right to people’s inboxes, prompts directors to prepare more thoroughly, in advance, resulting in informed, succinct, and decisive discussion at meetings. Aprio makes it easy for directors to pose questions to management before meetings with answers shared to all. This has virtually eliminated the repetitive background questions, which often eat time in meetings. All of this, and directors being able to collaborate with each other prior to meetings, has made us more productive as a board, kept meeting agendas on track, and boosted attendance as a result.”
– Amy Nelson, Point West Credit Union (read the full case study)
BlueShore Financial wanted a technology solution to provide accurate information and an improved service to directors and executives. They aimed to improve efficiency and ensure governance and the equitable distribution of information.
Read more to find out what the payback was for BlueShore Financial after they’d implemented Aprio.
YNCU merged with another credit union that used Aprio, and board chair John Haines saw it as an unnecessary cost. The organization built an internal system to share board material, but security was a problem. Information was unencrypted and being unsafely distributed. The board knew they were at risk of a data breach.
“It’s a huge reputational risk,” said Haines. “If people find out your information is being shared around, that’s significant.”
Security was the original reason the YNCU board began using Aprio. Staff within the credit union can now provide board members secure access to information inside the board portal without compromising internal credit union systems.
Read more to find out how Aprio’s robust security features provided the ROI YNCU was looking for.
Want to see how a board portal works? Let us give you a personalized product tour.
*Directors’ Digital Divide: Boardroom Practices Aren’t Keeping Pace With Technology. Forrester Consulting. October 2018.
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