Unless your organization has the right tools for the job, transparency can be a harder goal to achieve than you might think. If directors have complained in the past about a lack of transparency or fairness, begin by identifying where your practices have been falling short. Access to information is one of the most frequent sources of frustration among board members, but how does inequitable distribution of information happen in the first place? It really depends on how you disseminate materials to directors or archive old reports and whether or not they can be retrieved without turning to the administrator. For example, here’s a typical scenario: while preparing for the year’s CEO evaluation, Director A requests last year’s evaluation to see if the CEO has achieved his or her performance goals. The administrator emails or couriers the document, but when Director A brings it up at the meeting, Director B wants to know why all members weren’t sent this relevant information. Meanwhile, the administrator thought twice about sending copies to the other members to avoid overloading them with extra information.
This is a great case for arguing the merits of board portal software over both paper-based meetings and using email or free file sharing services. They make it easier for administrators to implement transparent practices and provide equitable access to information for all members without overburdening them with documents they’re not interested in reading. They also tend to be considerably more secure than paper or email by requiring password authentication to access every document. Papers are frequently misplaced, as are mobile devices, while email accounts are too easily compromised to store sensitive materials.
In order to see how a board portal can specifically address access to information pain points, take a look at how a platform like Aprio Boardroom works. The administrator first divides the board into groups and subgroups depending on the organization’s structure. They then create an event (such as a general meeting) for the appropriate group, and subsequently attach documents to the event. All group members are then given email notifications that new material is available, with a link that will take them back into the portal (with password authentication required) to view the document. Historical documents, like past resolutions or meeting minutes can also be easily accessed in the library. A deeper look into the features and processes of a board portal is available at Aprio.net.
When you’re looking for board portal software, be sure to ask how much control your administrator has over creating groups and events and uploading materials. For example, whereas with Aprio the administrator has complete control over the back end, other systems require the administrator to send all information to the software company, which inevitably leads to miscommunications and mistakes. There should be in place a way to create sub-admins, an important feature when it comes In Camera meetings. Since the admin should not be privy to In Camera materials, they can make the Chairperson a sub-admin for this particular sub-group, safeguarding the company’s privacy and integrity. These are all important features to ask about during a vendor demo to make sure that your company gets the product that can meet its security needs.