Preparing for board meetings used to be laborious and time-consuming. Technology gives boards the capability to streamline many of the routine pre-meeting planning and activities. With many of the routine matters out of the way, boards can more easily focus on strategy and oversight. A board portal system will cut down meeting preparation from several weeks to several days, or maybe even a few hours. Automation takes the worry out of forgetfulness, human error, and mistakes due to a time crunch.
Most importantly, by using a board portal system, you’ll have more time in your day to think through important board topics, study the reports you receive from other board directors, and make a pitch or two of your own.
Let Your Board Portal Manage Routine Matters
Time is at a premium for busy board directors. Much of the work for board meetings happens before the meeting ever starts. That’s important because it takes good planning for a productive board meeting. Fortunately, technology has advanced to streamline nearly all the simple, routine, repetitive tasks that make pre-planning for board meetings a snap.
With a board portal system like BoardEffect, you can easily do your agenda online. Begin with a draft of an agenda for your next meeting immediately after your current meeting and add to it until the next meeting. BoardEffect allows you to update your agenda in real-time and it notifies your board members whenever your agenda has been changed or modified. That means that board members get their materials faster and they get more time to review them and prepare for meetings. The portal ensures that board documents are secure and accessible at all times. There is no chance of documents being lost or getting into the wrong hands.
With cyberattacks on the rise, a board portal system will also help keep board communications and collaborations securely within the portal. Granular permissions is a feature that ensures that only authorized users can get into your portal. You can also limit which documents and parts of the portal users can access.
Create a Set of KPIs for How to Manage the Business
With many of the rote tasks behind you, boards and managers can get to work on the most important duties and responsibilities in the boardroom.
In addition to planning for success, management teams have the challenge of finding reliable ways to measure their success. One way to do that is to create key performance indicators for how to run the business. One mistake that some executive teams make is to develop separate reports for management and the board. Executives shouldn’t create reporting materials that analyze the business that are separate from what managers are already creating. By using the same set of reports for the board and management, it cuts down on confusion and keeps everyone on the same page. Also, it doesn’t require any extra work because it doesn’t require any extra time or work to prepare the board packet for a meeting.
To be effective, managers should share their key performance indicators with the board. Board directors don’t always know what metrics they want to see. It helps to have key performance indicators as presented by management and boards can usually offer feedback based on what’s been presented.
Determine Your Most Strategic Issues
Plan to meet with your executive team about six weeks before your board meeting and agree on what the most significant strategic issues the company’s leadership should be working on. Focus in on the key issues that management is wrestling with. It helps to write out three to five of the main issues in bullet points. After discussion, boards and their management teams should be able to come to a consensus on which items are the most appropriate to focus on.
Pitching a Strategy to Your Board
All board members are required by law to serve the best interest of their organization. It’s not enough to merely show up for a board meeting. At some point, you may have a great idea that will really help to progress your organization. You’ll need to find ways to educate and excite your fellow board members about it.
It’s common for board directors to create a short pitch deck or presentation of about 5-10 pages using presentation software to introduce your strategy to them. This is a strategy that primes your board and helps to frame the issues that are on your mind. If it’s possible to include some key metrics or financial figures, your project will sell even easier. Creating a pitch deck takes extra work, but it shows that you’re engaging in your board work and it’s good discipline for solving problems.
Creating a Board Agenda
Let your board portal do most of the work for creating a template for your board’s agenda and adding all the basic information. Be purposeful about how much time you allocate for each agenda item. Another mistake that many boards make is getting stuck on less important topics which leaves them rushing through the more important topics. You can prevent this by putting the least important agenda items at the end of the meeting. If need be, the chair can rush through the final items or the board can do a unanimous written consent.
Release Financial Reports at Least 72 Hours in Advance
Boards commonly scramble in the days before a board meeting to ensure that board directors have all the materials they need for the meeting. Some 90% of boards send their financial packets out only a day or two before the meeting. Around 65% send them the day before. This just doesn’t leave enough time for board directors to read, digest, compare, and question material facts on the report. The problem that it poses is that the board ends up spending too much time on financials, leaving little time for strategizing.
Meeting planners should also consider the fact that board directors may have jobs or obligations to attend other meetings as well in the days before your board meeting. It’s difficult for board directors to give their board duties due diligence when they have no choice but to stay up late reading board materials the night before a meeting.
When board directors get their materials in a timely manner, it sets your board on pace for an effective and productive board meeting.