What are the benefits of a board portal?

An increasing number of boards and committees are employing board portals. Why is this?

At any time, managing board papers digitally can help boards to improve governance, boost security, save money and provide more usable information to their directors.

In recent times, the benefits have been brought even more sharply into focus. The COVID-19 pandemic, bringing with it a swift move to remote working, has highlighted the need for boards – and businesses overall – to demonstrate continuity wherever their people are.

We reported recently on the practical steps businesses can take to keep operating in a pandemic, one of which, as stressed by consultants EY, was the need for directors toStay on-top of decision making, putting measures in place to ensure that management teams can take quick decisions’.

It’s clear that digital companies – and digital boards – have been more resilient when it comes to riding out the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, their approach making them more agile, and their processes more robust.

Here, we look in more detail at what moving to a board portal entails, and what benefits you can expect to see.

Why move to a board portal?

If you currently produce hard-copy board packs, moving to a digital solution may seem like big step. But with no shortage of reasons to go down this route, it’s worth looking at the benefits and practicalities of changing your approach.

1. Improved corporate governance

Governance is an issue where boards have been taken to task. The Financial Reporting Council has suggested that they need better governance, and with challenges here ever-changing, it’s important to stay on top of your corporate reporting and compliance obligations. 

A digital approach can dramatically improve your performance here. Delivery of board papers is safer and more secure (no more business-confidential information left in porches); efficiency is improved, saving time and money; compliant archiving becomes in-built. You can read more here about how a board portal can help you to improve corporate governance.

2. Easier access to information

Your directors are busy; their time is at a premium. They need comprehensive yet concise information that enables them to make informed strategic decisions, and your board papers are central to this. They need to include all the necessary information, arrive at the right time and enable members to access them in the way they want.

A board portal can help tackle all these challenges. A good one is user-friendly and intuitive. Papers can be accessed on- or offline, according to preference – or printed for those who prefer hard copy materials, to ensure you’re presenting information in the way your directors prefer.

3. Time and cost savings

You can spend significant time producing board packs. And with this time comes cost – some of it explicit, out-the-door cost, like paper and printing, and some hidden, like the time-cost of administrators.

Using a portal-based approach replaces the labour-intensive manual board pack process with a slick, automated one. Any last-minute additions or edits are dealt with effortlessly, with papers easily replaced. One-click printing saves time and effort. And delivery via highly-secure online sharing saves time and reduces risk in emailing or posting packs.

Find out if you can save money with a board portal and whether your investment can really pay for itself. If you already use some sort of digital solution, it’s important to consider how much you are paying. Does the cost include ‘nice to haves’ that in practice, you rarely use and which make the solution more complex than it needs to be?

4. Improved security 

Online delivery can not only save time and money, it’s also much more secure than unencrypted emails or delivering hard-copy packs via post or a courier.

Digital board packs also help you to create a compliant audit trail of board papers, minutes and decisions – essential in today’s environment of increased accountability.

When it comes to security, the question of in-house vs outsourced hosting often comes up. While it can be tempting to host your portal on your own systems, we would recommend a fully-outsourced solution.

A high-quality portal will come with the highest levels of security, and any updates will be automatically applied. Read more about the reasons why outsourced hosting can be more secure, give you access to the latest technology, and help with compliance, in Board portals – the in-house/outsourced debate.

Make the right choice when selecting a board portal

So, the benefits of moving to a digital approach when managing your board documents are compelling. But you need to ensure you make the right choice, picking a solution and provider that delivers a smooth transition. Our blog on 5 considerations for setting up a successful digital board might help.

You can read more in our whitepaper, Board portals – what’s in it for directors? You can download a free copy of the case study here.

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.