A board portal is a secure piece of software, utilised by an organisation’s boards of directors, advisory board, committees, subcommittees, board task forces and their respective members or directors, to manage the ‘business’ of the board. Board portals offer a range of features (depending on the vendor providing the portal service) that allow directors, executives, senior leadership teams, and others who report to the board to interact with or support the work of the board, to share information and efficiently collaborate with each other.
Why is Board Portal use increasing?
Usage of Australian board portal software on Australian not-for-profit and for-purpose boards (and boards in other countries and of other types of companies) has been rapidly increasing in the past few years for a variety of reasons, these include:
The Rise of Software As A Service (SAAS)
The rise of saas models (also known as cloud software) is helping to make software such as board portals far more affordable. In the past, for a board to have a portal the organisation would have needed its own internal information technology team who could not only build but also maintain a customised portal. Maintaining a custom board portal is an expensive proposition for any organisation and remains so today. However, with the reduction in the cost of on-demand computing power (through services such Amazon Web Services), a significant increase in internet accessibility and the rise of smartphones and tablets software vendors can offer board portal software to many organisations at a lower cost and in a more accessible way.
More digital native directors joining boards
An increase in the number of technology-literate board members, particularly as digital native generations begin to join boards, is also driving the widespread adoption of board portals by boards of many types of organisations. As ‘digital native’ directors join boards, they expect to be able to use software as a tool to perform tasks in the same manner that they would in their work and other parts of their life. In fact for many established boards who would like to recruit younger directors or directors with strong technology backgrounds, not having a board portal is a strong negative signal to these up and comers that the board is not willing to or ready to embrace change.
Directors are as busy as ever
Between work, friends, family and often multiple directorships (and the rest of ‘life’), directors increasingly have less time to put toward an ever expanding board workload. Which of course can be exacerbated if directors must deal with an organisation where there are major problems to be sorted out or significant strategic challenges to overcome. Hence directors are seeking out ways to improve the efficiency when handling or working on their ‘board business’. Board portal allows not only those who support the board to be more efficient in the preparation of board papers/packs. They also allow individual directors to improve their efficiency in performing with board related tasks, giving them access to information and documents when and where they need them. Often without the delay of having to request them or have them courier by post. Additionally, board portals help improve the running of board meetings and the general dissemination of other critical information to which directors may require access.
Saving time and money
It costs money to run any board. And who doesn’t want to save dollars? In the not-for-profit sector, there is no shortage of situations where a few dollars saved in one place, can be immediately deployed in another. When board portal software is put in place, organisations can often trim significant board related costs and allocate the money elsewhere. So while there may be an upfront cost for the portal, this cost is usually offset by the savings made in areas such as wages of staff to prepare and distribute meeting packs, the costs associated with printing the board packets and then mailing them out.
The amount of time that must be spent on preparing for a board meeting is usually very significant, days for some boards! But with most board portals this can be cut down to just a few hours.