Whether you already have a portal-based approach to board papers, or you’re currently assessing systems with a view to buy, cost is likely to be a significant factor.
Cost may also be one of your motivations for going paperless or ‘paper-lite’.
The cost of hard copy board papers is often overlooked – but can be significant. Identifying the potential cost-savings can be one of the incentives for making the shift to paperless packs.
Once you’ve factored in:
- The company secretary or administrator’s time
- The cost of paper (which can really add up if you often have last minute amendments that mean reprinting)
- The costs of binders and dividers
- Delivery of each pack via courier
The hidden costs of hard copy papers can be significant.
If you use professional printing or collation services, they may be even higher.
So, while any new system represents a cost to the business, this is often less than directors anticipate.
But it’s still important to make sure that whatever system you choose, you get value for money.
How to compare costs
There is a wide range of pricing models – and costs can vary significantly. That’s why it’s important to identify your particular needs. The cost structure that’s right for one firm won’t necessarily work for another.
- How many users do you have?
Some portals charge per user. This can get expensive if you have a lot of potential users – or want to add them in future.
- Where are your users-based?
Is there an additional fee for users in more than one office? How many offices will you want to give access to?
- Are your costs likely to fluctuate?
You may have a greater need for board papers some months than others, or a need for more user access at certain times. Can your solution accommodate this? It can be difficult to set a budget when your usage is unpredictable. Having a simple and transparent cost model is vital.
- Are there additional costs?
Is training included in your licence fee? How about ongoing support? And system upgrades? Do you have to pay for ‘premium’ services that other providers offer as standard? Will it cost more if users want offline access? What if you want to extend the system to cover other corporate documentation?
Get a full understanding of the items in your fee agreement, and any that are charged as extras. Again, transparency is essential.
How to make sure you're getting value for money
A portal with a room licence model can often be the best solution. It can be hard to predict how many users you need to allow for. Your board may increase in size – or you may want to give access to more of your support staff. A room licence model means none of these things is an issue.
A model that allows unlimited usage can also help with managing your budget.
If you assume a certain level of usage, and go with a cost model that doesn’t allow for more than that, it can be a problem. If you increase the number of meetings…or if you want to expand your paper-free approach to cover your various sub-committees…you can end up paying more than you bargained for.
A solution that offers unlimited usage avoids this sort of problem.
Transparency is the key
Reasonable, predictable and manageable costs make the transition to paperless boards an easy one.
If you need to get buy-in for the idea of a paperless approach, reassurance that the fee structure is are clear and future costs are foreseeable can be a big plus. Knowing exactly how much you’re likely to pay is essential if you want to make an informed choice between the solutions available.
Hopefully this has covered some of the most frequently-raised issues on this topic. If you want to know more about the implications and advantages of adopting a paperless approach, you can download our whitepaper on Board portals – their implications and advantages. It’s free and you can get a copy here.
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