With the widespread use of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, replacing face-to-face and paper-based board meetings with an electronic board portal seems to be the most reasonable course of action for the benefit of your corporate board. And in many ways, it is. Technology makes board meetings convenient by allowing more mobility for directors, portability for meeting documents, and security for the whole meeting process.
But in reality, the transition to a board portal isn’t necessarily smooth sailing all the time. Every corporate board embodies a distinctive personality, so some boards may be responsive to changes, while others may be resistant. It’s a matter of finding the right approach to ensure a positive response from your directors.
Fortunately, the upcoming new year is a good opportunity to present the board portal as one of the fresh changes your corporate board needs particularly for the improvement of communication process. But before you bring up the board portal to your directors, assess their existing communication process to determine if the board portal is indeed the ideal solution.
The first thing you need to do is ask these questions:
What’s the board’s main method of contact?
For most boards, the answer to this question is email. For the more modern boards, it could be conferencing on Skype, Facetime, or any other online messaging. Either way, the Internet is still primarily the platform on which your directors communicate. After all, the Internet is affordable, ubiquitous, and easy to use. Since your directors are already spending so much online, it’s better to make them use a board portal for stricter security. The Internet, no matter how convenient, is still quite a dangerous place. Without the protection afforded by a board portal, security breaches are a serious threat.
How often does the board meet?
Members of boards that meet often are usually updated on the latest developments and concerns of the organization. On the other hand, members of boards that meet less frequently — like once every quarter or twice a year, for example — have the tendency to lose track of what’s happening and end up getting out of the loop. If your directors fall under the latter group, then they need a stronger mode of communication that will let them stay in touch with one another even when they’re not in a board meeting. A board portal can provide exactly that.
Are there few opportunities for the board to work as one?
Boards that don’t meet often enough don’t get plenty of opportunities to work as a group. If you think your directors need to more chances to collaborate with one another but you’re concerned about eating up too much of their time, you’ll be happy to know that a board portal offers the compromise you’re looking for. On a board portal, your directors can collaborate on meeting documents at any given time and at any given place, as long as they’re connected on the Internet on their iPads or Android devices. Think of it as telecommuting — work still gets done, even when everyone is in a remote location.
Does the board have problems with getting updated information on time?
Delays in sending out and receiving updates happen, but if they happen a lot, then that means communication among your directors isn’t as effective as it should be. A board portal can help your board in that aspect because it sends out real-time notifications whenever there’s an update, as opposed to waiting for the corporate secretary to inform them of any changes. A board portal also lets directors take on a more active role by giving them direct access to meeting documents. This is a much better alternative compared to waiting for all the information they need from the corporate secretary.
These questions will help you determine if an online board portal is the right choice for your corporate board. But whether or not your directors are ready to make the transition, there’s no denying that board portals are the future of board meetings. With several board portal vendors offering board portals in the market today, you can easily choose one to give the solution a trial just in time for 2014. In fact, why not do it right this moment? Ask for a demo of Convene — an online board portal for iPad and Android devices — and see what your board has been missing all along.