Portal technology is making the process of producing and hosting board papers easier and more professional than ever.
As a result, more and more boards are moving to a portal-based approach. But with a myriad of solutions and suppliers in the market, how do you know which one to choose?
Here we outline the eight things we think are most important to consider when choosing a board portal.
The 8 things to consider when you choose a portal
Your board portal will host some of your most confidential and business-critical information. Security is therefore one of the most important criteria when you are weighing up potential solutions.
This encompasses things like log-on (is two-factor authentication required, for instance), your provider’s certification and quality assurance status and their business continuity plan. Read more about portal security.
- The provider
Your potential portal provider is a key element in the decision process when choosing a solution.
What’s their history – do they have experience in dealing with corporate confidential data? How long have they been around? Are they well-established, with a strong track record of customer service and delivery?
Read more in the 8 questions you should ask a potential portal provider.
- Governance and compliance issues
Businesses are governed by a myriad of laws, industry regulations and best practice guidelines. You need to ensure that any portal you adopt not only allows you to meet these obligations, but ideally enhances your ability to do so.
Does the solution you’re considering create a compliant audit trail, for instance, that meets the requirements of your regulator? Do its security features match up to any industry standards you need to meet? With corporate governance increasingly under the spotlight, will it help, rather than hinder, your compliance efforts?
Read more about how a portal can help you to improve corporate governance.
It can be difficult to introduce change – but there’s no point investing in a portal if nobody uses it.
The best portals will enable you to gently transition your board members to the new approach – for instance, by allowing them to retain printed board packs for a time. It will also allow members to choose the way they access board papers and other documents.
A user-friendly solution is essential. Your chosen portal needs to be intuitive and easy to get to grips with, easily navigable and usable.
Excellent customer support is also key to user-friendliness – make sure the service is as good as the software when you choose a solution provider.
Find out more about what makes a portal user-friendly and intuitive.
- Client feedback and testimonials
Can the provider evidence satisfied customers? A good portal will garner positive reviews and case studies. Can the one you’re considering provide any of these? They should be happy for you to speak to existing customers – beware any provider that’s reluctant to let you do this.
- Cost and fee structure
Some portals will cost more than others. But it’s worth digging to see what you get for your money. Is it worth paying a little more for the exact specifications you want?
Investigate how much you can expect to pay for you portal. Does that cost include ‘nice to haves’ that in practice, you’ll rarely use and which make the solution more complex than it needs to be? Think carefully about your real needs before signing up to – often costly and unnecessary – add-ons.
You also need to consider the fee structure of the portal you’re considering. Can you easily add on users if you need them? Conversely, are you paying for the opportunity to have licences you will never use? Read more about whether you can make your investment in a portal pay for itself.
- Transition process
Whether you’re adopting a portal for the first time or moving from an existing provider to a new one, you will need to change your processes.
How adept are your shortlisted providers at helping clients to do this? Some providers are more experienced in new portal users, others specialise in those transitioning from one solution to another, and the best will be skilled at both. Our tips for ensuring a seamless transition when changing portal provider have more considerations and tips.
- Where to host the portal
This is another important area to think about. It can be tempting to host your portal on your own systems – but you might want to reconsider this.
Outsourced hosting can be more secure, give you automatic access to the latest technology, and help with compliance. Read more about the best solutions for portal hosting in our blog, Board portals – the in-house/outsourced debate.
Make the right choice when selecting a board portal
There will, of course, be other considerations specific to your organisation and your board – but we hope that these have given you some food for thought when it comes to the portal selection process.
If you want to read more about the benefits of board portals – and arm yourself with answers to some of the questions you may be asked during the selection process – you can download a copy of our paper, Board portals – what’s in it for directors? The paper is available in our resource library.
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.