Board portals have established themselves as a must-have in board communications. The current generation allows boards to go entirely paperless.
A board portal is a secure app or website designed specifically for the purpose of improving communication between a company and its directors. The current generation allows boards to go entirely paperless.
- Board Portals: An Overview
- Evolution of the Board Portal
- What to Look for in Board Portal Technologya
- Ready to Learn More?
Board Portals: An Overview
After years of scattered adoption, board portals established themselves as a must-have in board communications. Successive improvements in hardware and software led to compelling benefits which in turn drove the shift from old-school paper towards modern board portals.
Technology has fundamentally changed the way modern boards communicate. Traditional board communications were paper and fax based. Companies sent out (hard copy) boardbooks in advance of meetings, and directors always met in person to discuss agenda topics. Until a few years ago, this approach to managing communications was sufficient.
A new landscape has emerged. Regulatory scrutiny, greater globalization, deeper competitive pressures, and an increase in shareholder activity have dramatically increased the volume of board work. Today, a great deal of board work takes place between meetings.
Goodbye to paper: the advent of the board portal
Old-school paper processes are simply too slow and cumbersome to keep up with the pace of today’s board work. Boardbooks are difficult to update and subject to loss; faxes are unreliable and present security issues. To deal with the changing needs of today’s board communications, many boards have adopted board portals. Board portals give directors greater visibility, streamline the boardbook creation process, and tighten information security.
Evolution of the Board Portal
Tired of bulky boardbooks and in need of faster but secure communications, companies began to explore alternatives to paper. A board portal, with its built-in security, ease-of-use, and document management capabilities, had obvious inherent advantages to address these needs.
It started with the need for electronic access
There were two factors that propelled market development of the board portal. The first was a cadre of progressive directors who, enthusiastic about technology and tired of bulky boardbooks, advocated electronic access to meeting materials. The second driver was the passage of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley act. This major piece of legislation, written in response to the accounting scandals of that time, threw a spotlight on board portals as a vehicle to drive governance. The “electronic boardbook” that emerged provided rudimentary online access — but not much more.
The board portal concept is born
It wasn’t until 2005 that the board portal as a category found its footing. Around this time, the term “electronic boardbook” was replaced by the “board portal” concept that is in use to this day. This was an implicit acknowledgment that newer technology could do much more than provide simple electronic access to board materials.
A new demand: from access to process
The second-generation board portal that emerged in 2007 web-enabled all board processes as they were practiced inside a typical Fortune 500 company. This iteration of the board portal included a corporate secretary toolkit for creating an online agenda, managing and tallying director input, and assembling a boardbook from Microsoft Word.
The iPad as game changer
After the release of the first iPad in 2010, boards across a wide range of organizations moved quickly to board portals. The iPad combined immediacy of online access with the readability of print. In a short 18-month period, board portals became a must-have in boardrooms across the globe.
What to Look for in Board Portal Technology
Most directors today carry their iPads everywhere and rely on them for access to their board materials—even when they’re out of Wi-Fi range. The online-offline syncing found in an advanced board portals provides directors up-to-date
Five requirements of an efficient board portal product
1. A better-than-paper experience.
Though paper may be cumbersome, expensive and slow,
it has the advantage of giving boards control over who sees what and when they see it. When you replace this process with a board portal, the technology needs to have the equivalent ability to differentiate access between various users (this is called “content segregation”).
2. Two-way communication.
For years, the board portal was a one-way communication tool used between the general counsel and the directors. Now portals are shifting to two-way interactive capabilities that can improve decision making by providing greater efficiency
and allowing directors to focus on the substantive issues rather than minutiae.
3. Online-offline syncing.
Board portal technology uses an electronic “briefcase” (an encrypted folder designed for storing sensitive documents and personal notes) to give directors mobile access to materials even when they’re offline. Information in the briefcase is automatically synced when Wi-Fi is restored. It lets the general counsel push
new materials directly to the directors’ devices (usually an iPad) to ensure that they have the latest information.
4. Protection against discoverability.
Making the boardbook accessible on a director’s iPad creates potential legal exposure if the director forgets to purge the information at the end of the quarter. To eliminate this risk, the board portal system must have centralized control so that downloaded content and directors’ notes can be purged remotely by the person assigned this role.
5. Engaging visuals.
When you change a long-standing process, you have to offer an incentive. The board portal user experience needs to be more intuitive and engaging for directors than the paper boardbook, taking maximum advantage of the rich graphics and animation capability of the iPad.
Ready to Learn More?
Boardvantage keeps an extensive and up-to-date library of videos, articles, webinars, and blog posts on board portals and leadership team collaboration. You can explore all of these resources at boardvantage.com .
The Paperless Boardroom is Here – No More Excuses
By combining the immediacy of online access and readability of print, the iPad can deliver an experience that’s better than paper. Learn how Boardvantage’s sync technology gives board members unprecedented efficiency using the iPad. —–> https://business.nasdaq.com/intel/board-leadership-solutions/resources/index.html
NYSE Director Education Q&A with Boardvantage CEO Joe Ruck: Commonly Asked Questions about Board Portals
The iPad has been a game changer for board portals and ‘tech savvy’ is no longer a requirement for directors. Today, the briefcase technology found in advanced board portals allows the corporate secretary to exert full control over all content downloaded by directors, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of discoverability. To learn more, read this Corporate Board Member interview with Joe Ruck. —–> https://business.nasdaq.com/intel/board-leadership-solutions/resources/index.html
Nasdaq Boardvantage : Going paperless with your board has never been easier
Automate the board meeting process
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automates boardbook creation and distribution. Board members view the particulars of the current meeting or quickly reference relevant items from previous meetings. Any updates are flagged with visual cues.
Go beyond boardbook access
When it comes to eSigning consents, voting on resolutions, or filling out self-assessments, MeetX makes all board process paperless.
Make online-to-offline transparent
MeetX auto-syncs its content so board members have ready access to their documents, private notes, approvals, and surveys, whether online or offline. Even annotations made offline sync back to the server when the board member is back online.
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