As usual, in 2017 nothing stood still in the world of the boardroom.
Boards of directors faced new legislation, changing best practice, increasing challenges – and a wealth of reports, research and opinions telling them how to address all three.
We recap the biggest issues you’ve encountered in the last 12 months – and look at how you should be tackling them.
Maybe there’s never a year when governance isn’t in the headlines – but in 2017, it was certainly a key theme.
Directors were in the firing line again in May, when a survey suggested that boards were failing when it comes to compliance, and in the autumn when an article by a leading academic asked if they should be more proactive on governance.
So – what’s the answer?
With ever-increasing regulatory pressures, growing amounts of red tape don’t seem to be a cure-all for poor governance. But with revisions to the UK Corporate Governance Code proposed next year, it looks as if legislative changes are heading your way whether you like it or not.
In May we explored the ways that embracing technology can help and how you can improve corporate governance with a board portal. And in November we reported on the one surprising secret that may be the unexpected route to better governance.
Of course, a balance is key, and while compliance is essential, you need to make sure your directors don’t focus on risk at the expense of success.
2. Increased effectiveness and efficiency
Directors’ time is in short supply. Making sure your meetings are effective is vital if you want to make the important decisions that drive forward your strategy.
As with governance, there was plenty of advice on how organisations can improve their board’s effectiveness. Is your board as effective as it could be? we asked in October. And in December we shared new research and tools designed to help you maximise the effectiveness of your meetings and processes.
There are a few key actions you can take to make your meetings and the time in between them as effective as possible:
- Find out how your members prefer to receive information to make sure they’re briefed in the best way
- Give them the background they need before every meeting, so they arrive prepared and ready for debate
- Avoid making some simple board pack mistakes to ensure your papers are user-friendly and professional
- Read our tips on how to make your board more efficient
3. Successful decision-making
One of the main aims of the board is to make the decisions that move organisational strategy forward.
But making these choices isn’t always easy – or achievable in the time you have. Follow our advice above on board effectiveness and you will be off to a good start.
Getting the right balance between healthy debate and obstructive conflict is very important. And understanding some of the social processes that can hinder good decision-making can be very valuable.
Technology was another big theme in 2017.
While businesses may have embraced technology, boards aren’t always supporting these investments in the best way – that was the finding of a report we covered in how to plug the technology gap in your boardroom.
Boards themselves can benefit from a digital approach, and we looked at how a portal-based approach to board packs can improve pack production efficiency, create more professional packs and improve your compliance.
Whether you choose to host a portal in-house or outsource, making sure it’s user-friendly is key. When you’re making your choice, examine costs and the customer support you’ll receive. Make the right choice, and your investment in a portal can pay for itself in terms of time saved, external savings on print and delivery, and regulatory compliance efficiencies.
To make sure everyone – your directors, company secretary, administrators – benefits from your investment in board technology, you need to address any concerns and make sure they’re fluent in technology.
In the meantime, if you want to read more about how new technologies can make your board pack processes more efficient, with a professional, user-friendly end result, you can download our whitepaper on Board portals – their implications and advantages. It’s free and you can get a copy here.