Put yourself in the shoes of a board member for a moment. It’s been a busy month, dealing with career considerations, family obligations, and yes, sitting on the board for a non-profit organization. The board meeting approaches, but you’re digging through emails, unable to find the agenda. Worse yet, the board held an impromptu vote a week back and you haven’t seen the results. Who knows what other information might be missing.
Minutes tick by as you dig through messages, trying to count votes on one hand, looking for the updated agenda on the other. You finally dig up an agenda, but it’s two weeks old and you’re pretty sure an updated one is floating around somewhere. And you need to review something from the last meeting, but can’t find the minutes. All the while, emails land in your work inbox while friends and family text this and that.
Sound like a nightmare? For many board members, it’s the status quo. Even if the meetings themselves are well-organized, life in between often gets messy. The result? Miscommunication, wasted time, and sometimes, disengaged stakeholders.
With a powerful board portal, like BoardSite, you could reduce if not eliminate miscommunication. You can also ensure that board and committee members can access the most up-to-date materials, including minutes and agendas. And if votes must be held, either in or out of meetings, you can track and clarify results.
This means more time spent on oversight and less time wasted on administrative hassles during and in between meetings. As a result, board and committee members can provide more critical insights not just during meetings but also day-to-day.
Let’s look at how a board portal can empower NGO, company, government, and other organization boards while keeping members engaged in between meetings.
A Board Portal Supports Discussion Whenever, Wherever
Even the most efficient and effective boards often won’t settle everything in a single meeting. Meetings provide space to resolve old issues and discuss new challenges but there may not be enough time to address everything. Further, fast-evolving developments can happen between meetings and organizations need to respond ASAP if they want to stay ahead of events.
Often, conversations continue after meetings are adjourned. Members might rely on text, email, Zoom, phone calls, and whatever else. Unfortunately, ad hoc communication often leads to miscommunication, which paves the way for a host of issues. Even if stakeholders further discussions between meetings, poor communication often yields sluggish, ineffective responses.
By leveraging professional tools designed specifically for empowering board members, you can ensure that communications remain timely, organized, and accessible. Working together, board members can then help organizations navigate both smooth seas and choppy waters. All of the discussions will also be captured, organized, and stored in one central, secure location. Rather than digging through emails and messaging platforms, board and committee members can find everything they need with a few clicks.
Enable Easy Time Sensitive Voting
Many board members prefer to vote during the meeting itself. This way, they can talk things through with colleagues, seek clarifications on details, and otherwise make informed decisions. However, the world doesn’t wait for meetings to start and when pressing issues develop, members may need to react and vote ASAP.
One way to empower boards is to leverage voting systems that work not just during the meetings, but in between as well. These systems will document votes and vote changes, providing clarity and driving home what’s been decided (or not). This keeps things on track and allows boards to provide real-time oversight.
Some organizations might try to use simple consumer products, like survey tools or email. However, using disparate solutions often results in stuff getting lost or overlooked.
Consumer-oriented products may also not be as secure and might not provide nuanced access control. Board members might try voting via email threads, but the chains can stretch into dozens of messages branching this way and that. Simply figuring out who voted which way can become overwhelming.
Further, what if someone changes their vote? Sorting through changed votes in email chains is time-consuming and whoever is recording the results could miss a change, recording the old (and incorrect) vote instead. Beyond confusion, this could also change the outcome of the vote, effectively undermining if not destroying effective governance.
Email chains also make for poor documentation. You’ll want to record every vote and create a permanent record that clearly marks who voted for what and when the vote took place. Muddled email threads make things difficult not only right now, but also in the future when stakeholders revisit results.
With a well-designed board portal, however, much of the needed legwork is taken care of.
Ensure that Files Are Organized and Easy to Access
Committee and board members will need to access files shared before, during, or after any given meeting. With outdated tools, this typically means digging through emails or logging onto digital asset management systems and online folders, then downloading attachment after attachment, looking for the right one.
If a member thinks the file is on an instant messaging platform when in fact it was uploaded to a cloud folder system, they may never locate the right materials. They might reach out to other board members or organization staff, but that eats up time for both parties. Some will get distracted and forget about the asset altogether.
Given how busy stakeholders are, time wasted comes at a high cost. With a board management platform, you can ensure easy access to documents, including not just agendas and minutes (more on that in a second) but other critical materials too. This way, members can find what they need quickly, wasting less time on administrative tasks and spending more time providing insight and governance.
Review Agendas and Minutes for Upcoming and Past Meetings
Setting an agenda is vital for a successful board meeting. When meetings lack an agenda or members simply don’t review it beforehand and follow it, discussions may meander here and there with people tuning in and out.
Before you know it, time’s up and little has been accomplished. Many boards will trudge on, finishing up pressing business even as the clock hands spin. Unfortunately, however, long meetings can lead to folks burning out, and often, members may have to leave before key board business has been concluded.
Setting an agenda is essential for every board and committee. Providing easy access to the pertinent documents encourages members to review the agenda beforehand, which instills focus. If stakeholders have to dig through emails or complicated online folder systems, they may skip reading the agenda altogether. Even if they hunt down the documents, they’ve wasted time that otherwise could have been spent catching up.
Further, agendas are often updated and revised, making version control paramount. If some folks work off an old version, even the most carefully designed meeting could get knocked off the rails. With a board management platform, members can easily locate the most up-to-date agenda.
Likewise, after the meeting wraps up, many stakeholders will want to go back and review what took place. With a board portal, you can ensure easy but also secure access to the minutes and other materials.
Pave the Way For Effective Committees
Boards don’t operate in a vacuum and often rely on committees to handle day-to-day work. These committees sometimes include folks who don’t sit on the board, making access control essential. Committee members need to access pertinent documents and information. However, they often should not have access to sensitive materials meant only for the full board.
The best board management portals don’t stop at the board, they also support committees. This way, organizations can integrate the portal into everyday work processes, helping keep things organized and well-documented.
The right board portal also allows for nuanced access control, providing committees with the information they need while restricting access to sensitive board-only materials. Maintaining and modifying privileges is straightforward, meaning you can always ensure everyone can access what they need and nothing more.
In Conclusion: A Powerful Board Portal is a Great Investment
Many boards work throughout the month, not just during meetings, but between them as well. With a board portal, you can ensure that stakeholders can maximize their time and performance. A portal brings everything under one roof and keeps communications, voting, documents, and other essentials organized.
Sound organization reduces the burdens placed on staffers, boards, and committees too. By streamlining and eliminating mundane tasks, organizations free up stakeholders, allowing them to be more productive.
Miscommunication is a serious risk. Unfortunately, if you use disparate tools, the risk of miscommunication is high, and optimal oversight could become a pipe dream. Even simple procedures, like holding and recording votes, can devolve into time-consuming hassles.
BoardSite provides focus, offering myriad tools that are easy to use and implement. This helps ensure high engagement rates, which is vital for keeping everyone moving forward. Further, many boards collaborate with other committees and stakeholders. The best board portals provide support for these stakeholders as well.
Boards play a crucial role in organizations big and small. The decisions they make have a big impact on organizations now and well into the future. Any organization serious about effective governance and oversight should put boards and committees in a position to succeed by providing a top-notch board portal.