Why trust is the most important factor in choosing a board portal provider

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You’ve decided to move to a board portal. Or you already use a portal-based approach, and need to change providers.

What criteria do you use to select your new solution?

We’ve looked before at some of the key considerations, exploring why security, an ability to deliver a smooth transition, user-friendliness and a willingness to invest in the future are all vital features.

Underpinning all of these, though, is one essential factor: trust.

Here we look at why trust is the crucial component of any successful relationship with a portal provider, and arm you with the questions you need to ask to ensure your chosen partner fits the bill.

Why is trust the secret ingredient in a portal provider?

If you use a board portal to produce your board packs, your chosen provider is hosting some of your most important data. You have to entrust your most confidential information – corporate strategic plans, including M&A or divestitures; information on staffing and operations; future objectives; and financial data – to someone else.

Producing and sharing board packs via a portal is already inherently more secure than delivering in hard copy via post or courier. But nonetheless, there are security considerations.

The physical and technical aspects of security should be a given. Any good provider will operate at the highest levels of security, with two-factor authentication, regular business continuity checks and data centres certified to ISO27001 (security management) and ISO9001 (quality management).

But then there’s the human element.

Outsourced hosting (where the provider hosts your data) is recommended from a security perspective (read more on this in our blog on board portals – the in-house/outsourced debate).

But of course, this means you need to trust your provider implicitly. They are party to your most sensitive information.

How can you ensure your preferred provider meets the standards you need? Ask them some essential questions to gauge their trustworthiness.

The key questions you need to ask a portal provider

Before you hand over your director-level data to your portal provider, here are some things you should cover off with them.

  1. Where has the firm evolved from?

Some firms will have a more impressive history than others – and a greater ability to demonstrate their handling of confidential information. Some providers, for instance, have a long history or working closely with the financial community.

With this background, and a long heritage of acting as a trusted provider for the production of corporate accounts, IPO prospectuses and other financially sensitive documentation, their staff will be well-placed to deliver as a board portal provider.

  1. What history do they have of dealing with highly confidential information?

Whatever their evolution, some portal providers will have stronger credentials than others when it comes to handling confidential data. As above, financial service providers are a great example of a sector where dealing with sensitive corporate information is par for the course.

Some providers may have developed via other routes. Software providers without this background may lack an understanding of the constraints and demands that come with handling very sensitive information.

  1. What do other clients say about them?

Does your chosen provider have a good range of case studies and testimonials from existing clients? A firm with satisfied clients shouldn’t have any difficulty convincing them to act as referees and provide quotes, case studies or feedback.

Is your preferred supplier happy for you to contact current and past clients?

  1. Do they build long-term relationships?

A relationship between a board portal provider and their client should be a long-term one. Ask what the provider’s approach is to customer relationships. Do they provide ongoing support, by phone, email or online? Many Software as a Service (SAAS) providers prefer to ‘sell and move on’ to the next project.

Particularly in the early days of using your portal, you need the confidence that you have experts on call when you need them.

Get it right when it comes to choosing a board portal

Whether you’re new to using a portal for your board packs, or want to change provider, there is much to think about if you want to select the best solution for your board.

Trust is undoubtedly the deciding factor – but is just one of the issues you need to consider. Our Board Portal FAQs provide a good overview of portals – what they are; the advantages they offer, and the things you need to think about when choosing one.

You can download a free copy of the FAQs from our resource library.

Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

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