They tend to follow the same formula and be produced in the same way, not changing much over the years.
How often do you revisit yours to make sure they are doing their job?
- Do they make it easy for your directors to analyse information and make decisions?
- Are they user-friendly and simple to navigate?
- How much time and (often hidden) cost goes into their production?
- Is the end result as professional as it could be?
Here we look at six ways you can adopt best practice in producing your board packs.
Review what you currently produce
What are your current packs like? Is the process and end result as good as it could be? What are the bugbears around production, delivery, and look and feel?
Ask those involved in producing and using your papers what they like and what could work better. How easy is it to accommodate late additions or edits? Are packs easy to use? What are the costs of production, including the often-overlooked paper and printer/copier costs?
Your board papers are used by your most senior stakeholders and directors, who expect a highly-professional pack. Their time is short, so papers should be as easy to navigate as possible. They’ll appreciate choices in the way they access the information – does your current approach make this possible?
Ask your board members what they want
May sound obvious, but so many organisations never actually ask their directors what they need in a board pack.
While every board (and every member) will be different, we’ve found some common themes when directors and NEDs are asked about their preferences:
- They want the production process to be simple – not overly labour-intensive, and cost-effective in terms of materials and resource. Last-minute changes should be able to be accommodated without drama.
- They want the end result to reflect the organisation’s professionalism.
- They want choice in the way they access papers. Some prefer hard copies they can annotate. Others want to read them online. And others want soft copies that they can read without the need for internet access. And because your board will likely contain a mix of these views, a solution that enables all three is the Holy Grail.
Focus on the right content
Do your board members get the information they need? Their role is to make crucial decisions on the future direction of the organisation.
To do this, they need clear, comprehensive information on the choices they are asked to make. Having the full picture enables them to make rounded, informed strategic decisions.
This information needs to balance the ‘selling’ views of those within the organisation – teams pushing for investment or for support with new projects – and the objective views of those in the outside world, giving an external perspective on the issues your directors need to consider.
Make sure your packs provide the information required so that your members can all read from the same page.
Consider the best delivery methods
As we’ve mentioned, different directors will have different preferences when it comes to receiving and reading board papers.
Hard copy will suit some, while others prefer an online pack. The solution here might be to invest in a solution – like a board portal – that enables you to provide both.
The best portal-based solutions will allow you to print off packs if required, and let members access soft copies if they prefer.
The best will provide online and offline access to soft copy papers, meaning busy directors can read packs on the go, without the need for internet access.
As well as catering to all members, a portal-based approach improves security (no more insecure emails or packs left in porches or behind gates by postmen), delivering papers via highly-secure online connections.
Make them easy to produce
Publishing board packs can take an immense amount of administrative time. Not to mention the costs of printing off, binding and distributing hard copy papers.
When late additions or changes inevitably occur, this can be a major headache. Packs need to be reprinted, pulled apart, assembled again…
Making use of technology can remove these frustrations. Late edits are easily accommodated, and packs can be printed at the click of a mouse.
Importantly, make sure your solution is designed with administrators as well as end users in mind and you will make sure everyone benefits from the technology you choose.
Make them easy to use
In part, this comes back to the content and delivery points we’ve covered above. But it goes beyond that too.
Packs should be user-friendly – easy to navigate, with tabs and indexes that make it simple to find content. They should include any supporting information that helps to inform decisions – for instance, links to past papers and corporate documents or policies.
Follow these six steps, and you will be well on your way to producing best practice board packs.
To read more about an organisation that’s already implemented best practice, download our case study to find out how ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity saves money and produces more professional board packs.
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.