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Board Management Software Isn’t Just For Boards

Did you know that board management software isn’t just for boards?


“Reduce, reuse, recycle”: These principles aren’t just necessary to an ecofriendly household — they’re also key components of mission-driven success. Finding new ways to use resources — for example, discovering that a back-office staff member is a natural at public speaking — can be the difference when stretching budget dollars.

Nonprofit leaders looking to maximize resources should take a fresh look at board management software, a versatile tool that can touch all aspects of organizational operations.

What you’ll learn

  • How some organizations are streamlining group and team work with their board management solution
  • Challenges of managing many working groups, and how board management software can help to overcome these obstacles
  • How to expand your board management software, with tips for administrators
  • What to look for from your software partner to expedite expansion

Examples of using a board management solution to achieve even more

Consider these examples of organizations that have limited resources and use board management software for more than director-level meeting management:

  • Starfish Family Services, a Detroit-area social service agency, creates reports and tracks governance requirements to ensure compliance with federal requirements for Head Start program funding.
  • Memorial Health System, a not-for-profit, independent, integrated health system with locations in Ohio and West Virginia, has also been able to expand the use of BoardEffect to many groups within the organization, with a significant number of committees and internal groups benefiting. This has helped deliver more efficiencies beyond the board.

The flexibility of board management software makes it ideal for nonprofits and mission-driven organizations, most of whom are used to finding new ways to expand existing solutions. Here, we take a look at the many ways nonprofits and charities can benefit from expanding their use of a board management solution beyond the board of directors.

The challenges of managing committees and working groups

Committees and working teams are the underpinning of so much nonprofit work, but many mission-driven organizations struggle with effective committee management. As with so much in the nonprofit sector, resources are often limited — an issue that affects every aspect of committee management. Do any of these issues sound familiar?

  • Overtaxed members. Anyone who contributes to nonprofit work is likely used to being asked to do more — put in more hours, donate more, serve on another team. The risk of burnout is real. So how do nonprofit leaders ensure valuable contributors are respected and appreciated?
  • Silos and fragmented communication. Many nonprofits grow up from the grassroots, with team members who are focused on one aspect of the work and not thinking holistically. In organizations like these, sharing communication across silos has not become part of the workplace culture.
  • Collaboration gaps. Even when teams are encouraged to work together, members need the right tools to facilitate communication and information sharing, track accountability and coordinate tasks. Special tools that accommodate these needs often don’t fit the budget — especially if they are tools that only serve one purpose.
  • Limited knowledge or time for strategic meeting management. Many key contributors have limited time for meetings. Using that time to share relevant information, make decisions and assign next steps efficiently isn’t always feasible with traditional meeting management options.
  • Difficulty of data-driven decision making. Ensuring the right teams have the right information requires efficient document-sharing tools, as well as a bird’s-eye view of what is available.
  • Securing sensitive data. The work that your organization does is important. Any sensitive data and information that they work with needs to be done securely and kept protected.

How board management software can help

Many think of board management software as primarily serving the needs of the board — understandable, given that these tools are part of a high functioning board’s success. While board management software creates efficiencies at the director level, many of its benefits also are designed for committees, working teams and professional staff.

  • Improved communication and information sharing. Software such as BoardEffect offers a robust, searchable document repository that makes all kinds of records available with one click. Administrators can keep track of versions and changes while board members are able to see the latest version without having to look through many emails or documents.
  • Keeping the conversation in one place. Other tools, such as workroom discussion spaces, secure messaging and automated notifications facilitate the conversation in one place, around the work.
  • Transparency and accountability. As with the Starfish Family Services example, board management software offers key ways to support transparency and accountability. Documents, workflows, approvals, budgets and other information can be shared with granular permissions to relevant audiences, as needed.
  • Streamlined meeting management. Contributors can make use of video conferencing integrations and online private workrooms at all levels of the organization. With the built-in document repository, teams can conduct work in one place, as a team, with any reference material relevant to the agenda topics at their fingertips.
  • Improved decision-making. Custom workflows allow the board management software to become a project-management tool, with built-in approvals, notifications and reminders and easy linking to relevant resources.
  • Reduced administrative burden. Nonprofit stakeholders never have enough time, so finding efficiencies to free up administrative task time is invaluable. By fully exploring the functions of board management software, tasks are simplified into one, easy-to-use interface.

Other considerations for nonprofits

Board management software has several qualities that make it particularly relevant to nonprofits. By adopting a tool for the board that can also be used for staff, committees, compliance and other areas, nonprofits maximize their return on investment.

A quality solution like BoardEffect has been developed to be user-friendly, supporting the experience of users at all levels of technology comfort.

Additionally, a secure board management tool also helps guard against the cyberthreats increasingly affecting nonprofits. Granular permission management and access ensure the right people see the right information at the right time.

How to expand your board management software to committees and working groups

BoardEffect is ready to be used by subsidiary boards, committees and other working groups immediately, with just a few steps to maximize its use.

Mission-driven organizations are using board management software to help streamline and secure many different types of groups in addition to the board and committee structure. For example, foundations, event committees, medical executive committees, quality teams, advisory boards and leadership teams, to name but a few.

This expansion can proceed quickly within an organization already using board management software for the board of directors. But even with a brand-new installation, groups can come together fast.

  • Identify and train group administrators. Team members already responsible for organizing these groups are in the best position to benefit from increased efficiencies.
  • Work with your solution partner to set up new groups quickly. Your partner can assist group administrators with getting new groups, permissions and training in place. For future rollouts, how-to documents and videos can be stored easily in the repository.
  • Develop onboarding and retirement processes for group members. A checklist is invaluable in ensuring permissions are managed correctly, orientation is consistent and new members can begin contributing immediately. When members move on, it is also essential to ensure security is maintained and key knowledge is passed on before they leave.

How administrators can get started

Once you’ve identified group administrators, there are ways to ease them into efficient group management that uses their time and talents strategically and respectfully.

Set up document-sharing protocols and permissions

One of the powerful features of solutions like BoardEffect is the granular permissions. By creating user roles and ensuring those roles have access only to what they need, the organization is not only protecting its data, but ensuring contributors aren’t overwhelmed with unnecessary materials.

At the same time, ensuring working teams have access to all the relevant materials is equally important, which is why another strength of board management software is being able to create cross-team document sharing.

Craft automated workflows

Everyone is faced with countless requests and messages daily, and it’s easy to lose track of priorities, overlook a deadline, etc. — even for the most well-intentioned participant. Workflows that identify participants, tasks (review, editing, approvals and more) and deadlines can be set up with automated reminders, taking the burden off the administrator.

Foster adoption and engagement within committees

Look for a champion in each committee — often the person responsible for driving the work forward.

Set up group communications

By integrating the team into the tool, members can communicate easily, see each others’ contributions, and collaborate efficiently. Secure meeting rooms can allow teams to work together from wherever they are.

Tips for choosing a board management software partner

When you’re looking to form a strategic partnership,

  • Look for an emphasis on security. Look for proven certifications that your organization’s materials and communications will be protected. For example, BoardEffect’s security protocols meet the NIST Cybersecurity Standard framework, which is trusted by financial institutions and other industries that require strict data protection. And BoardEffect also meets the strict security requirements for healthcare organizations including HIPAA compliance. We have put together 33 key security-related questions to ask.
  • Evaluate the partner’s experience with other nonprofits. Ask for references from other happy customers.
  • Find a partner who can help develop buy-in with all your stakeholders. Getting stakeholders on board is not a solo effort. Look at what group training the partner provides and support to get your other groups using the software.

Board management software has a role to play at every level of a nonprofit’s mission. With creative thinking, nonprofits can stretch the software to serve many purposes — just as leaders do with so many resources.

Diligent understands the nuances of nonprofit management, from supporting a modern, productive board of directors to helping front-line staff increase efficiency and reduce administrative redundancies. BoardEffect can contribute to these goals and more. Talk to us about your mission and how BoardEffect can serve every level of your team.

Rita Auritt

Rita Auritt is Manager and Governance Advisor at BoardEffect which is a division of Diligent Corporation. In her role, Rita works with a diverse range of organizations with a focus on healthcare and higher education. Having been a board member in many nonprofits and an executive director, Rita understands how BoardEffect’s governance platform can be used to achieve an organization’s mission. Rita worked for many years in financial services and institutional money management.

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