What is a board portal?

A board portal is an online platform especially designed for boards of directors to communicate, share materials, organize board meetings, and develop projects. 

Typically, board portal providers offer all kinds of features for security and task management. They help directors and corporate secretaries manage meetings, track attendance, generate meeting minutes, and generally save time and streamline processes.

In our days, board meeting software has become an essential management tool, and is widely used to organize board members meetings and optimize board governance across industries of all kinds. Board meeting portal solutions are used to optimize governance in banks, investment groups, pharmaceutical companies, law firms, non-profits, and many other types of organizations.

Board members — Who can use board portals?

Because they speed up and clarify planning and exchanges between directors, board portals can be an essential tool for just about any member of a board of directors.

An online board of directors portal can help increase board engagement, guarantee data security, and facilitate all kinds of things, such as scheduling meetings, document management, and creating board meeting minutes.

Typically, board portal also deploys a range of collaboration tools that make it easier for leadership teams to create tasks and ensure effective information security and document sharing. Above all, however, they are useful for the people most involved in management roles.

The chairperson

Board portals are good news for corporate governance in general — and for board chairs in particular. This is reflected in several board portal features.

For one thing, it gives them greater control over the board meeting life cycle — the chair can prepare and share board documents easily, collect meeting confirmations beforehand, and organize votes or polls through the virtual board room to make sure everyone’s on par with a plan or idea.

Most importantly, though, board portals increase the transparency of the board’s meetings and planning. Clear meeting minutes and board books can be safely recorded in a protected environment, facilitating future audits and alleviating the responsibility of the chairperson.

The board secretary

Corporate secretaries stand to benefit instantly from the deployment of the board portal.

Most of their tasks are greatly simplified through tools such as integrated agendas and calendars that make sure all members are on the same page, meeting schedules for notifying directors ahead of time, easily-accessible board books, and meeting minute tools for streamlining the minute-taking process.

Committees

Much for the same reasons, board software makes all the difference for organizing committees within a board of directors. Whether for standing committees dealing with financial or juridical matters, for recurring ones such as audit committees, or for one-off task forces, the benefits of an online board of directors software are clear.

With virtual board room software, committee members can easily set up agenda items, communicate with others over specific documents, collect signatures, send notifications, and set up committee meetings.

When a board portal software is also available for mobile devices (which tends to be the case with many providers), committee members can also keep in touch and take part in meetings on the go, using a convenient board management app.

Deployment options for board portal software

Board portals can be either on-premise or cloud-based. An on-premise portal means you’ll be using what is essentially a closed system. All data is kept in your own servers, while you also have full control over the software being used.

On the other hand, cloud-based board portal solutions use a third-party service for data storage. Typically, you’ll also be using board portal software managed by a third party.

Both options have their pros and cons.

On-premise deployment

Pros:

  • full control over your server hardware
  • potentially higher level of data privacy
  • lower bandwidth requirement

Cons:

  • costlier to install and maintain
  • requires a large, dedicated IT team
  • less flexible, slower to scale according to need

Cloud deployment

Pros:

  • easy deployment, few special IT requirements
  • scalable at short-notice
  • offers better protection against ransomware and similar attacks through backups and data encryption
  • doesn’t require a considerable capital investment

Cons:

  • must rely on a third party
  • doesn’t give you control over the board portal software
  • requires internet connectivity

A few years back, on-premise solutions were still widely used, but their popularity has decreased as cloud systems made significant gains in their security capabilities. Now most board portals deploy powerful data encryption technology and other tools to ensure a secure environment for board portal.

On-premise systems also require constant maintenance on your part, so that unless you have significant IT capabilities, cloud-based deployment will turn out to be the more secure alternative for your board management software in the end.

Virtual boardroom and remote work

The increase in remote work also brought a need for solutions of all kinds — from noise-canceling apps, to video conferencing platforms, to board portals. But why are board portals so essential to the work-from-home environment? There are a few reasons.

Security

The beginning of the pandemic meant that suddenly thousands of employees were connecting into their work platforms from home.

But with the increase in comfort of remote collaboration came lax security practices, since personal laptops and home wi-fi are inherently less secure than their office equivalents. With skyrocketing levels of criminal cyber espionage, ransomware attacks, and other malicious activity, secure solutions became an essential need.

This is where an online board of directors portal can help. By providing an encrypted, secure place for storage, data transactions, board meetings, and communication between board members, board portals successfully address this key issue of remote work.

Flexibility

Virtual board meetings are not without their problems, but on one thing everyone agrees: they offer unprecedented levels of flexibility. While before having many directors tune into a meeting remotely would be frowned upon, they have now become perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. 

With a user-friendly boardroom software or board meeting app, you save time attending remote meetings and conferences from anywhere in the world. 

Cost

Another advantage of virtual over in-person meetings is the significant economy in time and money. By switching to a remote meeting environment and employing board portal software, you are likely to make considerable savings. No transportation, no venue expenses for your board members, and so on.

Integration

A good virtual boardroom gives you one place for everything: communicating with colleagues, viewing, storing, and sending files, organizing meetings, preparing minutes, requesting SVPS, and so on. Besides, some board portal software can allow you to integrate these secure functionalities with video conferencing platforms, making for an all-around safe environment.

How to start using board portal software

Once you select your board portal provider, it’s easy to already see your team working easily on this secure, centralized space.

However, the transition from a physical to a virtual space isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be a bit of a learning curve from everyone.

You will need to make sure you have a good onboarding strategy to make the most of your board portal solution. You’ll also need to make the most of personnel available and the resources offered in order to set up your board portal software.

IT team

First of all, you may find it a good idea to have a few members of your IT staff work on the integration process. This will ensure no important task is left behind and will help guarantee your board of directors is seamlessly integrated into the new platform.

Trial versions and demos

Your virtual boardroom will likely offer a free trial period or comprehensive demonstration videos and presentations to help ease your board into the platform.

You should take advantage of these options to understand the workings of the system and whether it offers everything you need. A board portal demo can help you understand the ins and outs of your software and not be caught out of guard mid-work.

Dedicated support

Often older, less tech-savvy directors may have a hard time switching to new board portals. This can prove to be a bit of a hurdle and prevent you from making the most of your board and committee meetings.

However, if your board of directors portal offers dedicated assistance and training, you’ll be able to set up live calls or presentations to make sure everyone is on the same page and can make good use of your board portal software of choice.

Other things to have in mind

Switching your meetings, file storage, and data exchanges to a single integrated board portal solution is hard to accomplish overnight. It’s a good idea to keep the following elements in mind.

A system for document storage

Transferring huge amounts of board materials from several departments into a single space takes some time, but you can start by shortlisting the most important files you’ll need and ensuring a tidy online space with appropriate sub-folders, sections, and indexing.

Make sure you organize your board portal space for your board documents beforehand and you’ll see the wonders this can do for your effectiveness in retrieving important data and board materials when the time comes. Planning is essential for good board meeting management.

Account permissions

Most board portal features will include the option to assign different levels of privacy to folders and board documents. When setting up other members’ accounts, you will be able to determine the extent of their access to folders of files: viewing, commenting, editing, downloading, and so on.

The best board portal software will offer you all the necessary key features to help you protect sensitive documents and ensure good governance.

Security options

It’s important to make sure all board directors are well aware of the security implications of their access habits. Accounts should be set up with essential security features such as two factor authentication, strong passwords, and only on secure personal or work devices.

Final thoughts

Board meeting management is never simple, but your corporate governance can be eased considerably if you make use of good board software and have in mind some of our above recommendations.

Now that you already know the essentials about board portals, it’s time to go look for the best board management solutions out there.