We have experience of working with Boards of all types and sizes. This has given us first-hand insight into the ‘dos and don’ts’ of good board packs:
- What are Boards and their administrators looking for when it comes to packs?
- What’s seen as the ideal pack – and what should be avoided?
- What’s best practice in terms of process, presentation and access to papers?
- What motivates organisations to change the way they produce board packs?
- What benefits have they seen from the improvements made?
Here we explore these five key areas to look at when you’re reviewing your board pack process.
1. What do boards want?
Of course every Board, like every organisation, will be different. But in talking to directors over a large number of years, we have noticed some features common across many of them.
- Most want to simplify their board pack production process. This is often a labour-intensive activity; it takes up too much time, uses too much paper and is a poor use of resource.
- Many want to make their packs more professional-looking. Existing manual processes often deliver less-than-optimal results – a more efficient way of producing better packs is needed.
- All want to ensure their packs are delivered in a user-friendly format for members. For some, this may be online. For others, hard copy remains the preferred route. Most Boards will have a mix of members – some who want to print packs in hard copy and some who want the option of reading online.
- Most would like last-minute changes to papers to be more easily accommodated. Board papers often see additions or amendments late in the day. Traditional methods of production can mean this is a real headache, with reams of paper wasted and time spent swapping out one paper for an updated version.
2. What does the ideal pack look like?
Again, this may seem a ‘how long is a piece of string’ question – but, again, there are similarities between organisations.
- It should be professional looking – the people reading it are your most senior stakeholders and directors. They deserve a highly-professional pack.
- It should be easy to navigate. Time is short for your board members – they need to be able to find and read salient information at a glance.
- It should deliver information the way people want to receive it. As we’ve said, this may be online; it may be in hard copy. The key is in having a pack that can be accessed a variety of ways; choice is essential.
3. What's best practice in terms of process, presentation and access?
These three aspects are very closely linked. A good board pack production process will tend to lead to best practice in terms of presentation and access.
- The process should be efficient and straightforward. People involved in production – like the Company Secretary – tend to be senior employees whose time is costly. Making it as quick and easy as possible to produce packs is cost-effective as well as common-sense.
- Professional presentation, as we’ve touched on, is a given. What’s essential is presenting information in a way that meets your users’ needs. Ask your directors what they prefer – take a poll on whether they like hard or soft copy papers; what they want in terms of navigation and signposting.
- How important is it that they can access the information offline? Many directors and NEDs sit on numerous boards and committees, and use travelling time to catch up on paperwork. How easy is it to access your packs on the move?
4. Identifying the drivers for change
A desire for greater efficiency is often a main motivator for companies looking to change the way they produce board packs.
Calculating how long it takes to collate and bind packs by hand can give organisations the evidence they need to push for a new approach. Overloaded photocopiers and a CEO’s office swamped by a paper mountain for a couple of days each month can focus company secretaries’ minds on the need for change.
Sometimes, a new company secretary or CEO can be the catalyst for change. If a CEO or CoSec has enjoyed the benefits of an efficient production process in their previous role, they may join your firm keen to implement the board portal or other solution they have used.
Security can be another driver. Hard copy board packs need to be delivered to directors around the country, often in less-than-secure circumstances. A director who is out on the day of delivery can often find a pack of highly-sensitive corporate data left behind their gate!
Recognising that online solutions, hosted in secure environments and delivered via encrypted email, can deliver a far more secure result has prompted many firms to revisit their approach.
5. What benefits have Boards seen from the improvements made?
One thing that’s universal across all the companies we have worked with – all have seen significant benefits from overhauling their board packs.
Taking an online route, using a portal to collate and produce packs, has delivered huge efficiency improvements for clients of all sizes. Among the changes noted:
- Packs are far quicker to produce – one client can create a full paper pack in just 20 minutes
- Costs are reduced, with paper packs often coming in at a fifth of the cost when compared to old, manual processes
- Directors are happier with the results, as they can access them online or offline, in hard or soft copy, as they choose
- Security is improved, with highly-secure hosting and delivery
- Word used to describe more efficient approaches to board pack production include ‘highly impressive end result’…‘so professional and so easy to achieve’… ‘user-friendly, cost-effective and delivers a highly professional result’…‘has definitely made my life easier.’
Our case studies have a wealth of information on companies who have embraced best practice board pack production, including their objectives, the solutions chosen and the results they have achieved. You can read the case studies for free online.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.