What is a Board Portal?
A Board portal is dedicated board meeting management software that digitize the meeting experience. Board portals facilitate collaboration between directors, administrators, and management by utilizing a secure-cloud infrastructure to deliver digital meeting materials to phones, tablets, and PCs. Board portals provides boards and leadership software that transforms meetings from operational presentations to strategic working sessions.
- Empowers leaders to use technology to make intelligent and informed decisions to achieve their institution’s strategic goals.
- Facilitate the creation and distribution of board materials
- Enhance collaboration around meeting logistics
- Securely deliver board materials to director’s devices
- Improving the review of board materials by the directors
- Improve the actual board meeting by streamlining the mundane and opening up significantly more time for strategic discussions
- Facilitate important board actions such as voting, minutes approvals, and board assessments
Everything You Need To Know About
Features & Capabilities
- Anytime, Any Device, Workflows: Read, review, and annotate your board materials as it suits your work-life style. Anywhere, anytime, and on any device: iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon Fire, laptop, and Windows Surface.
- Search, Notes, & Annotations: Easily add your thoughts and changes by highlighting, touching, and typing. Your notes and ideas are always accessible, private, searchable, and synced across all your devices.
- Dashboard: Participants have a single place to access their most pertinent materials. Quickly examining upcoming meetings, board materials, and announcements.
- Seamless Board Book Builder: Build a board book in minutes instead of hours. Clone out previous meetings to quickly drag and drop your meeting files into new meetings.
- Resource Center: Place the annual report, corporate policies, bylaws, corporate charter, and all your key documents into a central location that's always one click away.
- Real-Time Syncing: As multiple people collaborate together, the board book builds and updates in real-time. Never lose your data.
- Multi-Board Support: Directors often sit on more than a single board. Board Portals allow directors to quickly move between organizations.
- eSignatures:eSignatures offers the same legal status and protections as a hand-written signature.
What To Look For in a
Before you purchase a board portal, before you commit your board to a long-term contract, it’s imperative to understand what to look for in a board portal provider and to know which questions to ask as an informed buyer. After all, changing course, particularly in your boardroom, can be extremely taxing. So what should you look for? When searching for a reliable board portal provider, you should examine the robustness of the platform and the years of experience of the vendor (There are also helpful tools available to see whether a board portal is right for your board).
A great platform is defined by its ability to promote collaboration, deliberation, and improve board flow. This is important for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is directors are already pressed for time at board meetings. Consider this excerpt from a report from McKinsey:
“Most boards have about six to eight meetings a year and are often hard pressed to get beyond compliance-related topics to secure the breathing space needed for developing strategy. When we recently surveyed board members to learn where they’d most like to spend additional time, two out of three picked strategy. A related finding was that 44 percent of directors said their boards simply reviewed and approved management’s proposed strategies.”
To truly make room for deliberations, to create a world-class board, you need to ensure your board portal is designed to provide directors more time to hold strategic discussions. That means efficiency is key. In particular, the speed that you build a book and the way you access and securely prepare for the meeting should result in real-time savings. When done right, the platform should allow for collaborative board meeting preparation. It should also provide directorship immediate access to review information or last-minute updates anywhere, on any device, so you’re ready to hit the ground running when the meeting begins.
Your board portal must ensure that the meeting is productive, Board book access is intuitive, archives are accessible, meeting actions such as votes can be taken, minutes entered, eSignatures penned, that time is measured to guarantee you have devoted time to strategic deliberations.
Finally, a board portal should ensure your company sees a tangible Return on Investment. That occurs not only through time-savings, printing declines, and labor savings, but also by ensuring your board is more prepared to more informed discussions leading to better governance outcomes. A board portal should facilitate strategic discussions, and move your board away from the operational meetings.
A truly collaborative experience, however, hasn’t come naturally to the board portal space. Wedded to old technology, most platforms were never engineered to take advantage of cloud-first technology.
Today’s business environment relies on digital technology to function, which consequently brings great opportunity as well as risk. Business is undertaken more effectively and efficiently but information flows can be intercepted and compromised. The protection of valuable intellectual property and business information in digital form against theft and misuse is an escalating critical management issue, never more so than in the boardroom.
The breach of boardroom security is one of a company’s highest threats and most vulnerable areas. On the one hand, the CEO, Chairman and the full board are the first to receive the most valuable information asset relating to the company – it’s strategic goals, financial position and operational activities – it is information which invariably includes commercially-sensitive details, whether to the company’s competitors or its investors, creating heightened threat levels. On the other hand, the composition of the board – especially boards with non-executive directors (“NEDs”) – is extremely diverse with members in different locations and time zones. This necessitates the use of technology to facilitate dissemination of information and the speed of decision-making necessary to do business, which consequently leads to significant vulnerability.
Companies can significantly improve their own security and help safeguard their most important assets by implementing a board portal. The security of your meeting materials is of paramount importance. Without a board portal your board materials are vulnerable, especially those sent over unencrypted means like email and paper.
Nothing short of the most advanced industry leading security measures are acceptable. Your board portal must include biometric login security, end to end encryption, granular access permission model, salted and stored SHA256 passwords, and multiple data centers.
The History of
The history of board portals is defined by three distinct generations. At the onset of the digital age, organization began sharing their board materials over the internet. As security concerns grew more pressing, second generation board portals were engineered to securely facilitate the creation and distribution of the board books. And as the cloud became sophisticated enough to host technology in a more accessible, user-friendly, and secure way, third generation board portals were engineered to make meeting better.
1st Generation Board Portals
Long gone are the days of printed documents, FedEx couriers, and endless filing cabinets. Replaced by the glow of a computer’s screen.
In the wake of this technological disruption, the first generation of meeting solutions were born. They were basic communication platforms: A simple way for board professionals to facilitate important communications between directors and the company, moving board work from paper to the digital realm by leveraging email and file- sharing sites to communicate with the board of directors.
At their core, the purpose is to take advantage of digital’s increased efficiencies, communications, and convenience. Through these first-generation solutions, documents are compiled and sent to directors via non-secure digital channels. Administrators export all materials to PDFs, bundle them as attachments, and point the directors to the right location. Some organizations compile each document into one large PDF. For the variety of platforms boards utilize for this initial digital transition, none are designed for the work of committees or a board of directors. Instead, they are platforms for sharing digital documents to directors.
While Generation 1 covers a variety of services, at their heart they are digital platforms that enable distribution of materials like Dropbox, file sharing, SharePoint, email attachments, and homebrew solutions.
2nd Generation Board Portals
Engineered with being a ‘secure board book compiler’ as their top priority, second generation board portals are purpose-built for a board of directors, and they streamline the creation and distribution of meeting materials as their primary objective.
Second Generation Board Portals typically include features meant to improve board meeting preparation. Take, for example, a resource library: a digital repository of critical board information such as the bylaws, corporate charter, and the annual budget. They also give directors access to a catalog of previous board books, contact information of their fellow directors, and basic calendar integrations. Moreover, platform accessibility is still often abhorrently narrow, limited to desktops (often Windows only) and iPads, nearly a decade after Smartphones had become commonplace.
Yet, their primary functionality is still in service of creating board books and securely delivering them to directors. Mimicking paper, the design of the interface was copied directly from the real world.
A central feature of Second Generation Board Portal technology is how they are created and hosted. Most portal providers that started in early 2000s were designing software for on premise hosting. These implementations have since given way to a vastly superior method to engineer software using the Single Tenant Cloud based architecture.
The key benefit of this cloud architecture is not just that it’s efficient to have a single edition that everyone accesses, but that it’s less costly, engineered for all browsers and devices, superior in its redundancy and availability, and more secure. While all significant selling points of the Cloud, the key benefit is the agility that comes with a cloud based set up. The providers that are of “Cloud First-Mobile First” can update faster, experiment faster, innovate faster, and react to security threats and user preferences much faster.
3rd Generation Board Portals
What really separates Third Generation Board Portals from legacy platforms is that once in the hands of users, the Cloud allows Gen 3 providers to get feedback from actual users faster, so they can iterate on that knowledge and make the product better, faster. These providers incorporate a “build-measure-learn” loop, adopting a faster, more agile product development methodology.
Gen 3 board portals are engineered to be cloud-first, user centric, and designed to improve board meeting outcomes by learning and quickly deploying new technology. Deeply focused on actually driving results at board meetings, these board portals leverage the cloud to innovate faster, deploy faster, train users faster, and are designed to improve the overall portal-using experience.
The core collaboration improvements enable as many people as necessary to work together to create and distribute board material. An administrator in Chicago and their CFO in New York can update the board book simultaneously. One striking example is when a director takes notes on their iPhone, it immediately syncs to the cloud, seamlessly appearing on their desktop.
Leveraging the cloud, Gen 3 board portals are available on every device and platform (iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Kindle Fire). This provides directors the opportunity to use any downtime to continue their review on their own terms on their favorite device. This translates in real-time workflows. Administrators are able to publish parts of the board book, and directors can receive notifications and immediately review material. Once they get to the meeting, that additional preparation pays dividends.
Gen 3 board portals offer a suite of real-time tools that can be leveraged during a meeting. Approvals can be conducted directly through the board portal platform, creating an immediate record of every decision. Minutes can be immediately linked to the board portal without any additional steps.
Simply put, cloud-first engineering opens up possibilities that were unheard of for second generation board portals. The agility and collaboration benefits of the cloud changed the course of board meeting solutions.
How to find the
Experience should speak for itself. After all, you are trusting a company to handle your most sensitive materials. Those providers with long-term partnerships across a variety of industries have the credibility to prove they won’t compromise your materials and will always be around to take your call.
Credibility is also derived from vendors who work overtime to ensure you have access to the most widely read experts on board governance. You should look for a vendor that not only provides a great product, but one that ensures continuous learning activates from the most reliable voices in board meeting execution.
Credibility is also derived from the number of years a provider has spent delivering on their promises across a variety of categories: support, training, and customer success. These are the questions you should ask to find the best possible vendor:
- Does the vendor offer 24/7 technical support that you can always speak with no matter where you live? Is this support being delivered through an outsourced ven
- Ask about training materials, keeping in mind that everyone learns differently:
- Do they provide hands-on training for new directors and administrators?
- Do they offer a robust library of training materials including guides, and videos?
- Is there built-in training on the platform, as it can get embarrassing to request for downstream questions?
- Are both guided and self-taught training option available to every member on my team?
Finally, does the vendor offer your organization a dedicated, named account manager who knows when your next meeting will occur, and is prepared to help in every way possible? Do they provide a relationship with an individual who will always be around, who knows each member of your board (if you wish), and how to best instruct them? A reliable account manager will be there to answer any questions and will be invested in your organization as the main point of contact for supporting your board.
Those aren’t easy criteria to meet, especially for cloud-first providers just entering the scene. You can’t trust your board documents to a platform that may not be solvent—that may vanish into the night like a fleeting side project. This is particularly vital for a platform for board meetings. Demand a provider that has a track record, a history of delighting their customers, and one that you’re certain will be around for the long-haul.
OnBoard is the only third generation board portal solution. A true multi-device capable mobile platform, collaboration enhancing, highly integrated, meeting productivity tool that puts all these capabilities in the hands of directors with an extremely intuitive, easy to jump in and learn user interface.
It's the only meeting solution that empowers leaders to use technology to make intelligent and informed decidions to achieve their institution's strategic goals. OnBoard makes preparing for and conducting meetings efficient, secure, and collaborative.
And unlike board portals, OnBoard can be test driven with a fee, no strings attached, full feature trial. The leap from print or the first generation of digital to a 3rd generation leader, OnBoard, has never been easier.
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