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A Beginner's Guide to Board Portals

A Beginner's Guide to Board Portals

by Abby Portugal on and last update on April 03, 2020

Board portals significantly improve the organization of board meetings—helping businesses of all types and sizes streamline operations and facilitate decision-making. Let’s explore the basics of board portals so that you can have a better understanding of what this software is and how exactly it can help your business.

What Is a Board Portal?

A board portal is a secure digital meeting environment for scheduling and organizing board meetings. Equipped with communication and collaboration tools, board portals simplify document sharing, minute tracking, and decision-making.

Digital directors will find board portals a valuable asset at companies eagerly embracing digitalization. Supporting strategic leadership and innovation, board portals help build a framework for good governance.

Is a Board Portal Easy to Use?

If learning how to use a board portal takes longer than 30 minutes, the software ceases to be an asset and becomes overhead. Ease of use should therefore be manifested through a friendly and intuitive user interface (UI). Friendly UI makes it easy to navigate the software and use all tools included in the board portal.

Since one of the main features of a board portal is preparing board packs, the process of creating them (i.e., compiling information, attaching files, distributing the packs, editing changes), should be hassle-free.

The same intuitiveness applies to in-meeting activities, such as navigation through the agenda, task assignment, voting, and signing crucial documents.

In short, board portals are easy to use if they employ tried and tested interfaces that are familiar to the user. Reputable vendors offer free trial versions of their products, letting users familiarize themselves with the software and determine if the solution meets business needs and helps achieve goals.

Testing the software extensively during the trial period is a necessary step in evaluating the usefulness and intuitiveness of a board portal.

Which Organizations Should Have a Board Portal?

Although there are many types of boards, there is a pool of responsibilities that all boards share:

  • Accept budgets
  • Set up company strategy
  • Consider company structure
  • Manage operations
  • Approve reports

Board portals are equipped with tools that address these responsibilities thoroughly and swiftly. However, different board types have their own unique sets of duties, which board portals also support.

Nonprofit Boards

Since members of nonprofit boards often sit on other boards, the streamlining of processes is crucial to maintaining efficiency and setting aside enough time for fundraising.

Easy and organized record-keeping maintains transparency, which is important for nonprofits that want to retain and attract new donors.

A board portal can serve as a secure document repository for fundraising activities:

  • tracking funds
  • assigning crucial tasks
  • creating reports

When nonprofit boards consist of many members located in different geographical regions, the communication needs to be particularly effective to drive the organization forward. With secure mobile access supporting multiple devices, nonprofits can stay up to date with all operations.

Nonprofit donations fluctuate yearly. To stay on track to fulfilling their mission, these organizations have to be highly cost-efficient. Board portals help nonprofits transition to a paperless system for board meetings. A paperless system reduces spending on paper, drives travel costs down, and decreases time spent on administrative tasks.

Private Boards

To grow and stand apart from the competition, private boards need to embrace solutions that boost communication, simplify processes, and reinforce security. Board portals equipped with innovative collaboration features wrapped in multi-level security measures let companies make crucial, data-backed decisions about future strategy and structure.

Real-time updates and notifications help board members and directors be always in control of the processes and outstanding tasks discussed during board meetings. By embracing digitalization, companies equip themselves with tools that automate tedious processes—effectively eliminating bottlenecks.

Public Boards

Public boards are highly regulated and need to adhere to strict government requirements. A board of directors of a publicly traded business also faces the highest fiduciary obligations.

To maintain the required level of protection and compliance, board portals should thus provide enterprise-grade security measures designed to keep confidential data unavailable to third parties. Detailed record keeping, version control of documents, and activity logs included in board portals ensure nothing gets lost and is always available for timely submission to authorities.

 

What to Look for in a Board Portal?

With multiple board portal vendors out there, it’s important to know what to look for when choosing a board portal.

Security Features

Hackers’ methods are growing increasingly sophisticated. Multi-layer protection backed by strict employee procedures (both on the side of the vendor and your company) and various certificates is an absolute must-have for board portals.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews from business owners in the same industry offer valuable insight into the weak and good sides of board portals. Reading in-depth reviews helps determine the quality and business value of the software. Software Advice and Capterra are useful sources of information on all relevant board portals.

Intuitive User Interface

A board portal should be an asset, helping organizations streamline operations and achieve goals more efficiently using less time and fewer resources. Remember, you should feel comfortable using board portal software within 30 minutes of launching it. If you feel like there is a steep learning curve, you might be better off with a different solution.

Mobile Solutions

Mobility keeps board members in the loop at any one time between board meetings, giving board members secure access to all important documentation and activities. Easy access across authorized devices lets the board hold a meeting without having to overcome technical barriers.

Interactive Collaboration Features

Even though a meeting is held remotely, it doesn’t mean it can’t be dynamic and highly collaborative.

In board portal software, look for interactive collaboration features such as whiteboard simulation, document export in multiple formats, task monitoring for committee members, and various communication options.

Support

Support options and customer service response are crucial in case you need a prompt answer to a pressing question. A vendor’s support options should be listed on the website. The quality of that support is usually evaluated in customer reviews.

Is a Board Portal Expensive?

The price of a board portal depends on your business needs and infrastructure preferences.

The below are just a few price determiners:

  • How many users will be signed up for the service?
  • What type of hosting will your company be using?
  • What are the specific features you need?

Because of so many variables, price ranges for board portals can vary considerably. What’s important when reviewing board portal options is to be able to accurately predict your long-term spending on the solution. Ask about the price of add-ons or how the price would change if you were to expand the number of users.

How Do I Know if I Need a Board Portal?

Before deciding on a board portal, you should perform an in-depth analysis on whether you could benefit from this type of software. This analysis includes:

Analyze Company Processes

To determine whether your organization needs a board portal, you should analyze your processes and look for possible areas for improvement. If there’s something that is recurrently causing problems or bottlenecks (e.g., board pack preparation and distribution), consider trying a board portal to address the issue.

Cross-Analyze Features with Pain Points

Cross-analyze your pain points with features of a board portal. For example, how much do you actually spend on board pack creation and distribution? Can a saving be made when incorporating a board portal? When calculating your annual spending on board packs, take into consideration:

  • size of board packs
  • frequency of meetings
  • number of participants
  • time it takes to prepare and distribute the board packs

Determine the Number and Quality of Features

While it might be tempting to invest in solutions that ooze features, you should look for software that directly meets your business needs. Multiple features could result in a steep learning curve and instead of adding immediate value to your processes, add more overhead.

Identify processes that are particularly cumbersome during meeting preparation and execution. Now analyze how specific board portal features solve your problems. Check whether no additional services or add-ons have to be purchased to achieve the desired result.

Consult with Board Members

Conducting thorough consultations with other board members should be one of the first steps when deciding to switch to new technology. Talk through their possible hopes and fears about the adoption of board portal software.

You can organize a software trial session to make sure the board of directors is comfortable with this type of software. A trial session will aid in determining which particular board portal should best be implemented at your company.

Board Portals Help Companies Grow in an Organized Way

Equipped with tools that bolster security, ease of use, and mobile work, board portals support dynamic collaboration in a secure meeting environment. Before deciding to adopt board portal software, always conduct thorough testing to check if the software meets your expectations.

This beginner’s guide is just an overview of board portals. To learn more about board portal software, read our comprehensive guide.

Board Portal
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