In today’s hyper-competitive business world, boards of directors are not only responsible for protecting the reputation of their organization and the well being of their customers, but also face an unprecedented degree of scrutiny in doing so. Managing a board is a little like walking a tightrope: a board must be transparent, but protect sensitive information; it must be immediately responsive to crises and opportunities, and also prudent and careful in its decision-making.
Added to these pressures are a host of new security threats that are a by-product of the leaps and bounds communications technology has made over the past decade. Ensuring that board members can communicate quickly and securely is more important than ever, but the challenges can seem daunting.
Given these difficulties, perhaps it isn’t surprising that more and more board managers are turning to new technology to provide solutions. The use of portal software to facilitate board management and communication is no longer limited to Fortune 500 companies. Smaller businesses are starting to see the benefit in making their board communications more accessible and secure as well, especially businesses like credit unions, whose boards often need to discuss sensitive data about their client base.
Here are a few things that board managers who want to learn how to simplify board governance using new technological tools should keep in mind when considering software.
Ease of Use
Board members have a lot to keep track of, and for portal software to work it needs to provide a streamlined experience. When considering a particular brand, ask yourself if it will be easy for directors and administrators to use while travelling, or without Wifi connectivity. Is it available as a mobile app as well as on a desktop, or do users have to choose? Does it allow easy annotation of documents, and are the changes synced across the whole system? Software that is easy and intuitive gets used; software that isn’t, doesn’t.
An efficient board maximizes its use of time, and good board portal software will help board members to take care of business between meetings so they can make the most out of its face-to-face meetings or conference calls. When looking at software, check to ensure it will facilitate remote use, so board members can stay on top of deliverables and new information no matter where they are.
Training is Key
Any new software an organization chooses to adopt will require some level of training, and as anarticle in the Harvard Business Review points out, resistance to new technology is a problem in many workplaces. It’s worth making sure that portal software providers are also willing to guarantee training for board members, and provide ongoing education to help ensure the board stays up-to-date with new features and best practices.
Given how many things a board is expected to keep abreast of, switching to a whole new system can seem daunting. It can be tempting to keep putting it off until some point in the future when the board has more time. But the security and communications challenges boards face are only going to get more complex; a little time spent learning to use a new system now can save a lot of time down the road.