In my previous article I touched upon how we will see board portals evolve to enable organizations to increase their levels of collaboration, cyber security, information & user management, and corporate governance standards. In this article I will delve further into collaboration and the functionality we’ll likely see appear.
Currently, board portals are mainly used as a standalone system, with little or no integration with external applications; boards, committees and groups are separated from each other within the system. Although this is for very good reasons, sometimes this means the structure applied doesn’t follow the flow of the decision-making process and there is additional administration work required to get materials into multiple meetings and groups. In the future collaboration capabilities will extend to capture more of this flow, be it within the board portal or integration with other systems and applications. New features will range from the simple to the complex and will help improve both user and organizational effectiveness. This extension will be matched with security to ensure they continue to offer the highest-levels of management and control.
Some of the ways that collaboration capabilities will progress are:
- The ability to manage and follow within the board portal, a major project for decision that travels through multiple layers and groups,
- Integration of board portal functionality into other systems, and live-linking to documents and content that are stored elsewhere,
- Additional non-core functionality by embedding other applications into the board portal, and;
- Integrations with other applications, for when the board portal is one of several systems used to complete the board’s work and make the decision.
Consider a major IT investment as an example; the flow could start with the IT Steering Group to conduct the research and make the recommendation, it then progresses to the CTO Committee for confirmation and budget request. The next step is with the Finance Committee; if they sign-off on the budget request they will push the project to the Executive Committee for final approval and go-ahead. Finally, it’s added as an agenda item for the next board meeting to brief the Non-Executive Directors of this major investment.
How can these new collaboration features assist this type of flow? Taking some of the aspects of this example, this could be by:
1) The CTO and Company Secretary being able to view the full workflow, related actions and current stage of the project. They would be members for part of the work and have restricted rights where this isn’t applicable (e.g. the CTO cannot see the full agenda and materials of the board meeting), 2) integration of board portal functionality, with security, into Outlook, so from email alerts members can grant approvals, view documentation or RSVP to meeting requests; meeting agendas linked to source documentation, so as the source changes so does the copy attached to the meeting, 3) the company’s travel system having embedded links into board portal meetings; when a director sees the meeting date and time has been set they can view travel options and make bookings, and 4) integration with the applications involved in making the decision; as each layer completes its work the next actions, decisions and workflows are triggered.
Over recent years we’ve seen board portals evolve from collaboration around board materials to collaboration around board meetings; of which board materials are just one of the component parts. The next evolution will be collaboration around board decisions; of which board meetings are just one of the component parts.