Introduction to Board Portals
A board portal is a digital tool that facilitates secure communication between directors and senior executives on their chosen device anytime and anywhere. Designed to elevate transparency and practice good governance, it provides features that are meant to streamline the entire meeting process – from pre-meeting preparation all the way to minutes distribution.
Typically, board portals also come with a suite of tools including agenda builder, meeting presentation tools, search capabilities, voting, and other features. Moreover, board portals positively contribute to a company’s bottom line by saving time and resources, cutting down logistical expenses, and helping organisations achieve sustainability targets.
- Enhance collaboration and productivity by enabling directors to conduct meetings and discussions anytime and anywhere
- Allow directors to access confidential documents quickly and securely
- Distribute information across the board in an efficient and simplified manner
- Cut down meeting preparation time and logistical expenses
- Streamline decision-making by empowering organisational leaders to review documents, assign tasks, and approve minutes in one, comprehensive platform
- Facilitate important board actions such as voting, surveys, report generation
Essential Features of Board Portals
Given the dependence of directors and secretaries alike on board portals, it is important that the chosen solution will be able to satisfy the vast requirements of any given organisation, whether it be a nonprofit or a listed company. As such, executives must be on the lookout out for the right technology for their organisation.
Strong Security System
Considering that top management deals with confidential information on a regular basis, the need to identify a highly secure platform is of top priority. The board portal system must adhere to the highest security standards and must be able to fend off breaches in the network. Data protection at all levels – from user authentication and document encryption to access right control and automatic purging for lost devices – must be available.
Streamlined Meeting Management
The board portal must be able to streamline pre-meeting preparation to post-meeting document distribution. To make it a worthwhile investment for an organisation, secretaries and directors alike must buy in and clearly benefit from this solution. It should be able to eliminate the tedious processes associated with meetings as well as streamline communications in a simple and secure manner.
Easy-to-Use Collaborative Tools and Interface
The board portal must live up to its name and must be an efficient way of collaborating in and out of the boardroom. It must be able to support numerous activities such as scheduling meetings, generating meeting packs and minutes, assigning and tracking action items, voting, presenting, and signing using e-signature among others – while maintaining an intuitive interface that can be learned in as fast as 30 minutes.
Diversified Hosting Options
Given the varying requirements of a company, industry, country, and region, a board portal must be able to adapt to the needs of every organisation. As such, there should be an ample amount of flexibility in selecting an adequate hosting option without compromising security.
The integration of technology in company policies has resulted in an explosion of the use of mobile devices in the workplace. Initiatives such as the Bring Your Own Device have encouraged employees to use their personal gadgets for business-related matters. Having said this, the board portal must work comfortably and consistently on a user’s preferred platform – whether it may be Apple, Android, Mac or Windows.
Key Criteria for Board Portal Selection
The global board portal market is expected to show continuous growth in the coming years. Having said this, many companies have sought to capitalise on this phenomenon by developing and marketing their board portals to the public. While there are several board portal providers in the marketplace, it is imperative that the right board portal in terms of fit, features, and functionalities must be chosen by an organisation. As such, aside from the essential features discussed earlier, it is vital that the right criteria must be used in terms of selecting a board portal solution:
Security is often the main concern of companies planning to switch to a digital solution. With the constant threats imposed by malicious groups and individuals, a board portal must demonstrate its capacity to defend classified documents against these attacks. Ask your vendors:
- What are the measures in place to preserve data integrity?
- Which third-party certifications do you have?
- How can we grant, limit, and track access within the system?
- How can you protect information in case of inadvertent events (e.g. stolen devices)?
- How often are penetration tests performed to guarantee data protection?
Azeus Convene Highlights
Daily automated backups to ensure data integrity
SSAE16- and ISO2700 compliant hosting and AES-256 document encryption
Audit logging and fine-grained access control
Automatic purge for lost devices
Regular application and infrastructure penetration testing
“Convene as a whole is very convenient to use. It’s easy to change items, roll over agendas and actions, and even write annotations on documents. […] What’s great about Convene is that it is able to support all of these even offline without compromising confidentiality and security.“
Reputation and Service
A provider must be able to prove its experience and capabilities in not only the field of board portals, but also technology. An assessment of its track record should be done through the following questions:
- How long has the vendor been around in this field? What has been their growth rate for the past years?
- Has the vendor taken steps into improving its product in the recent years? What are these improvements?
- What are the types of organisations this vendor has provided its service to? Are these aligned with the industry that I belong to?
- What is the feedback from their clients? Are they happy about their decisions?
- How does the vendor respond to support issues? Do they satisfy all their clients’ concerns?
Azeus Convene Highlights
25+ years of proven track record in the field of information technology
5 generations (and counting) of product improvement
Exponential increase in number of users in recent years
98% repeat customers with multi-year contracts
365/24/7 global support
“Real-time support is very important to us. In our own business, every call is answered within 3 rings. During the board’s evaluation of Convene we telephoned Azeus Convene Support and our call was answered within 1-2 rings. This sent a powerful message during the board evaluation because Convene demonstrated that it really has 24/7 support.“
Managing a board means dealing with an extensive range of activities – from pre-meeting preparation to post-meeting document distribution. A board portal must be able to address the requirements of your organisation in a satisfactory manner. Basic concerns such as the following must be promptly attended to:
- Will using the board portal enhance productivity and collaboration in our workplace?
- Are there opportunities to use collaborative tools during discussions?
- Is the board portal compatible with our directors’ preferred devices?
- How many languages does the board portal support?
- What are the advanced features that it offers?
Azeus Convene Highlights
11 supported languages
Streamlines the entire meeting process
Easy-to-use and intuitive interface
Special features like Conversations, Surveys, Fingerprint Authentication, etc.
Available on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows
“Convene has saved time, money, improved our decision making and the way we work. It has increased productivity and consistency of information. We’re really happy with the program. It just makes life so much easier.“
Return on Investment
Buying a board portal is an investment. Considering the amount of resources poured in for this initiative, picking the right vendor should be a careful decision. Companies must be able to quantitatively measure how much they can potentially save through a set of metrics such as an ROI calculator. Given this, the board portal must be able to satisfy your company’s bottom line objectives. This can be measured by asking the following queries:
- How many papers can I save annually by using this solution?
- How much does this solution cost? How does it compare with other alternatives?
- What is the expected rate of hours saved in meeting preparation? Will it be able to alleviate this tedious process?
- Will this solution help drive down costs in the organisation? Is it significant enough?
Azeus Convene Highlights
90,000* sheets of paper saved
Almost 50% cheaper than other solutions in the market
90%* of preparation time saved in a year
Tens of thousands of dollars saved per year
* Data from Sheffield NHS Trust UK
“We are a not-for-profit organisation and it’s difficult for us to be able to afford high-end packages
on management tools. When we did finally find a package that was affordable for us, we actually expected less than
what we got for our money. Convene provided all the functionality we needed, and even exceeded our expectations,
at a very reasonable price.“ “We are a not-for-profit organisation and it’s difficult for us to be able to afford high-end packages on management tools. When we did finally find a package that was affordable for us, we actually expected less than what we got for our money. Convene provided all the functionality we needed, and even exceeded our expectations, at a very reasonable price.“
The Smart, Simple, and Secure Board Portal Solution
Azeus Convene is a multi-awarded and leading board portal solution used by boards of directors of ASX, Fortune 500, and FTSE 100 companies, Fortune 500, financial institutions, governments, and nonprofit organisations in more than 70 countries. Our innovative board meeting software gives you complete control over the entire meeting process and ensures good governance driven by security and accountability. Designed specifically for executives and administrators, Azeus Convene streamlines the entire meeting process from start to finish.
Going Beyond the Boardroom
The use of board portals has been extended well beyond the premises of the boardroom. Before, it was exclusive only to the hands of C-Suite executives and board of directors. Now, it has been deployed across the entire organisation — from audit committees to ad hoc teams. The exponential growth in the number of users has strengthened this category from being considered as a niche to becoming a fast-growing market.
As companies realise the potential for board portals to become an enterprise-wide solution for integrated communications, more organisations are being convinced to transition into an electronic environment. Companies of all sizes, from nonprofits to multinationals, are increasingly moving away from paper-based formats to digital means of exchanging, storing, and distributing information. They see that board portals offer a wide array of benefits, some of which include reduced costs and improved security and convenience.
In addition to these, there’s also increased scrutiny and expectations from the public to not just comply with preexisting standards but also become societal institutions that become cultivators of best practices. Indeed, opportunities for breakthroughs and recognition await those who take a proactive stance. The future of the board portal market is bright and promising and those who choose to adopt early will reap the most benefits.