Board Portal Guide: 10 Things to Assess Whether to Switch | Aprio
April 2, 2020
Dee Sicklesteel

Board Portal Re-Assessment Guide: 10 things to assess whether to switch

Gartner research shows that the majority of board-run organizations use board management software that is specifically intended to support the unique needs of a board. But not all board portal software functions the same or provides the same time savings and security to boards. 

How do you evaluate whether the board portal you are currently using is the right tool for your needs today? 

Are we using the right board portal?

For some organizations, the board portal in place is a remnant of who was on the board at the time it was purchased. Every few years, it’s worth reassessing if your current solution is still the best fit for your board’s current security, feature, and budget requirements.

“The use of purpose-built content sharing and distribution portals has become a common practice for sharing sensitive documents with corporate directors in preparation for board meetings.” – Gartner

Data breaches are becoming more frequent and more severe, and not all board portals offer the same caliber of data security. Neither do they offer the same efficiency, mobile technology, collaboration tools, or time-saving search capabilities for directors. Boards are wise to periodically reevaluate their technology and make sure they are getting all they need at the most competitive price.

How can you assess whether it’s worth switching to another board portal?

Many organizations have a policy to reassess their technology every few years. It’s worth staying aware of modern technology, even if it only helps a board confirm that the board portal technology currently in use remains the right fit. 

Are you put off seeing what new technology is out there out of concern that switching would be a lot of work? That’s rarely the case. Many board portal partners can help you make the switch in just weeks – probably before your next board meeting. 

Five signs telling you to switch board portal software

Still wondering if it’s worth the time to reassess your board portal software? Consider if you are getting these signs of dissatisfaction signalling it’s time for a board portal switch.

Signal #1: staff are overwhelmed by meeting prep

Board administrators aren’t getting the latest time saving tools to prep the board package or distribute board updates. 

Signal #2: directors are frustrated 

If your administrator gets a lot of calls and emails asking where to find board materials or is hearing complaints about the technology, these are signs that your board portal isn’t easy to use.

Signal #3: cybersecurity feels uncertain

If conversations around data security are heated or bring an anxious silence to the boardroom table, then you know you need to re-examine the security of your technology.

Signal #4: renewal bill raises eyebrows

Maybe your initial board portal discount is behind you, or you are getting charged extra for “add-ons” like committees, training, or extra data. It may be time to compare the price of similar portals.

Signal #5: board engagement is slow going 

For existing and new directors, does your portal make it easy to be engaged with mobile tools, convenient search, and seamless login security? If not, consider other portal options.

Board portal reassessment 

There are many different board portals available on the market. How do you make sure that you’re using the right one for your organization?

You’re already familiar with how a board portal generally works. However, not all board portals offer the same tools to make board meetings efficient or board information secure. You’ll need to do a thorough comparison of tools available. Take a close look at what’s included in pricing, investigate how cybersecurity is protected, and consider providers’ track record of serving organizations like yours. 

How to assess a board portal

Top 10 things to re-assess – easy board portal software comparison

When evaluating whether you should stay with or switch your board portal software, there are 10 key things to reassess. Want a simple checklist to make it easy? Get the Board Portal Re-Assessment Guide

Step 1: board administration & management

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 how much time you can save. 

Step 2: director access & collaboration

A principle function of board portals is to provide timely, transparent access to board information. Assess the ease-of-use of different products. What will be intuitive for your board? 

Step 3: mobility & convenient engagement

Travel is a routine part of daily life for many directors and executives. Both for recruiting high-contributing board members and for keeping them engaged, technology matters. Explore the conveniences you can offer mobile directors, from tablet apps, to on and offline access, to support for remote approvals. 

Step 4: security

Safeguarding the confidentiality of board documents and communication is a key motivator for boards to use a board portal. Select software that both secures board materials and makes accessing information simple and secure for directors.

Step 5: getting started & adoption ease

Understand the help that vendors offer to get your whole board using technology for security and efficiency. Do they provide personal training for both board admins and directors? Do they guide you on how to migrate information from one system to another?

Step 6: technology innovation

How can you ensure 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 can impact product development.

Step 7: reputation & service

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 using the product. Ask about their service experiences and how issues are resolved.

Step 8: support

Because a board portal is used by some of the most influential and time-starved people in your organization, it is paramount that product support is highly professional and useful. Consider calling a vendor’s support line to test the support you’ll receive. 

Step 9: pricing

It’s buyer beware when it comes to board portal pricing. Be on the lookout for vendors that demo full-featured software then share pricing for lite products. Ask about all the possible add-on fees, including for additional administrators, committees, reports, training, and for data storage. 

Step 10: best overall fit

While conducting a software assessment, you will meet the people on different vendors’ teams. Consider the help they provide, their responsiveness, and interactions with your team. Consider which vendor would be a best fit.

Need more help on doing a quick comparison? Use the Board Portal Evaluation Checklist in the free Board Portal Re-Assessment Guide.

How to assess a board portal: download our guide

Curious? Find out more.

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