The use of board portals is increasing, as organisations in all sectors look to improve governance, improve security, save money and provide more usable information to their directors.
Here we look at the reasons why you might need a portal, and what you should be looking for when you choose one.
Why opt for a board portal?
There is no shortage of reasons to go down this route.
Whether you currently take a paper-based approach, or are using a portal but questioning your choice, we look at the benefits a high-quality portal can deliver.
It can improve your corporate governance
Governance is an issue boards have been taken to task on. The Financial Reporting Council has suggested that they need better governance, while a survey last year suggested that boards were failing when it comes to compliance.
An online approach can dramatically improve your governance. Delivery of board papers is safer and more secure; efficiency is improved, saving time and money; compliant archiving becomes built-in. These and other advantages directly impact governance. Read more about how a board portal can help you to improve corporate governance.
It improves access to information
Your directors’ time is limited – and costly. They need the information to make informed, incisive strategic decisions. Crucial to this is the delivery of board papers that include all the necessary information; arrive at the right time; and enable members to access them in the way they want.
A portal can help with all of these. A good one is user-friendly. Navigation is simple. Papers can be accessed online or offline, according to preference – or printed for those who prefer hard copy materials. Find out more about what makes a portal user-friendly and intuitive and how you can present information in the way your directors prefer.
It can save you time and money
The time spent producing board packs can be significant. And with this time comes cost – some explicit, out-the-door cost, like paper and printing, and some hidden, like the time-cost of administrators.
Using a portal-based approach swaps out the labour-intensive manual board pack process for a slick, automated one. Late additions or edits are handled effortlessly, with papers easily replaced. One-click printing saves time and effort. And delivery via highly-secure online sharing saves time in emailing or posting packs.
Security is improved
As well as saving time, online delivery is far more secure than unencrypted emails or entrusting your packs to the post or a courier. In an age of increased accountability, keeping a compliant audit trail of board papers is essential.
It can be tempting to host your portal on your own systems – but you might want to reconsider this.
A high-quality portal will come with the highest levels of security, and any updates will be automatically applied. Read more about the reasons why outsourced hosting can be more secure, give you access to the latest technology, and help with compliance, in Board portals – the in-house/outsourced debate.
Some things to consider when choosing a portal
We’ve covered above some of the aspects – security; ability to present information in a choice of ways – that you should look for when deciding on a solution.
As well as these, it’s important to think about:
- Support – what levels of training and ongoing support does your chosen solution provide? Quality customer service is essential – can you rely on 24/7, ‘plain-English’ back-up? What initial training, manuals and online libraries exist to support you?
- What does it give you in addition to the basic board papers? The best portals offer additional meeting functionality – information on locations and attendees, for instance, or instant notification of future meetings. Can you access corporate information, past papers and other documents you might need?
- Cost – consider how much you are paying for you portal (or how much you’re prepared to pay). Does the cost include ‘nice to haves’ that in practice, you rarely use and which make the solution more complex than it needs to be? Think carefully about your real needs before signing up to – often costly and unnecessary – add-ons.
VirtualBoardroom - the board portal of choice
If you are considering moving to an online approach, or upgrading your current portal, VirtualBoardroom has a wealth of testimonials that evidence its user-friendliness, intuitive design and effectiveness in delivering board information.
In 2017, its new, improved platform gave users increased benefits. If you’re wondering what’s stopping you moving to a board portal, you can read our case study showing how financial services firm the Carey Group saved money and produced more professional board packs. You can download a free copy of the case study here.