Boards oversee plenty of areas within an organization. With the Right Meeting Tools, They Can Operate More Effectively
A board of directors is an important fixture in organizations of all kinds, from publicly held corporations and financial institutions to nonprofits and industry associations — just to name a few. The board of directors provides oversight and leadership, ensuring the organization it serves is always working toward its mission and reaching its full potential.
Boards have myriad responsibilities to juggle. They need access to the right tools to fulfill their key duties effectively and efficiently.
Of course, technology needs vary from board to board. However, there are 5 key board meeting tools every board needs.
1. Remote Meeting Software
Not long ago, in-person board meetings were the gold standard. But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and that all changed.
At the same time knowledge workers made the switch to working remotely, many boards of directors started holding remote board meetings — a transition that required the right technology in order to be effective.
Many boards adopted remote meeting tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans, and GoToMeeting, which made it possible to continue holding board meetings — while avoiding the risks of face-to-face interactions.
It seems the switch to remote board meetings (aided by the right remote meeting software) hasn’t had a negative effect on board productivity; quite the opposite! OnBoard’s 2021 Board Effectiveness Survey found that 79% of respondents feel their boards were more effective following the pandemic. The majority of these respondents noted the move to remote work and virtual meetings — made possible by remote meeting software — was a primary reason for their increased effectiveness.
Even as vaccination rates grow and the pandemic ebbs, remote meeting software will continue to be a key board meeting tool. As the data proves, most boards believe remote board meetings can be at least as effective than those conducted in-person. What’s more, remote meeting tools expand the scope of who can participate in board meetings (both board members and guest speakers). Essentially, the right remote meeting software can completely eliminate geographic limitations.
If and when in-person board meetings return, some organizations may attempt to hold “hybrid” meetings, with some attendees in-person and others via video conferencing. It’s important to note that this isn’t an effective approach. Instead, OnBoard recommends holding board meetings either fully remote or fully in-person.
2. A Board Assessment Tool
Typically, an organization regularly assesses the performance of its employees. However, it’s just as important (or, arguably more important) to appraise the performance of the board of directors.
According to a Harvard Business Review article, directors who have initiated board evaluations experience myriad benefits, including smoother meetings and better information, among others. What’s more, regular evaluations shed light on opportunities for improvements and optimizations that lead to a more effective board. And of course, a more effective board can accomplish more for the organization it serves.
As such, every board needs a board assessment tool. Such a tool allows for self-assessments as well as evaluations from an external vendor. Board assessment tools can assess the board as a whole, as well as individual members. Boards with multiple committees can also evaluate their performance with a committee assessment or evaluation.
Robert’s Rules of Order Simplified for Busy Boards
Make your next meeting more effective with this guide
3. A Board Skills Matrix Tool
Each director has a unique combination of skills, experiences, and perspectives. It’s important to ensure that collectively, a board has the right mix to meet the needs of the organization today and in the future.
This isn’t always easy. According to a KPMG report, “Getting the right people with the right skills, both technically and personally, is as much an art as it is a science…”
However, board skills matrix tools make the process easier and more strategic.
A skills matrix is a tool boards can use to evaluate the skills and background of each director. For example, the matrix might indicate a certain board member has previous board experience, as well as experience in the financial sector. It might also include demographic information, including gender, age, and race.
A board skills matrix includes key information about all board members, which makes it easier to identify where there are gaps. For example, a board may have no members with marketing expertise — or no female members. In such instances, boards should try to find new members who have that skill set and background.
A board skills matrix is also an important tool for planning the organization’s future needs. For example, a health care organization may have a large property acquisition on the horizon. But according to the board skills matrix, the board lacks experience in real estate. As such, board recruitment efforts should focus on finding a member with that specific skill set.
4. A Meeting Minutes Tool
Meeting minutes serve as the official record of who attended a board meeting, what decisions were made, and all other consequential events that happened during the meeting.
Oftentimes, the board secretary oversees the minutes process. However, the actual notes may be drafted by other governance or administrative staff. In smaller businesses or nonprofits, someone else (such as the CEO or Executive Director) may be responsible for drafting the minutes.
Different industries and business sectors have different requirements when it comes to meeting minutes. However, there are three basic elements that are similar across organizations:
- Format: The minutes should have an official header that includes the date, time, place, and type of meeting. The same format should be used across all meeting minutes.
- Attendance: This is a record of who planned to attend the meeting — and who actually attended.
- Body: This portion of the minutes generally has two main components — administrative and substantive business.
Creating meeting minutes might not be a board’s favorite task, but it’s an important one. A meeting minutes tool can streamline and simplify the process. The board secretary can use the tool to take notes, create tasks, track attendance, and mark motions as the meeting progresses. They can also use the meeting minutes tool to publish finalized minutes — and attach to the next meeting agenda for approvals or signatures.
5. A Board Portal
Each board of directors has established processes and procedures. Oftentimes, boards leverage disparate tools for their various tasks. They may even rely on inefficient, paper-based processes that are time-consuming and not sufficiently secure.
Today, a growing number of boards are adopting a board portal (also referred to as a board platform) to streamline their processes and improve their overall board management.
What is a board portal? It’s a single, secure environment where administrators and directors can access meeting materials and information, communicate with each other, and execute their governance responsibilities. In fact, some board portals encompass all the essential board meeting tools we’ve covered within a single tool.
Not all board portals are the same, though. If you’re considering investing in a board management platform, it’s important to weigh your options to determine which is the best for for your board.
Each board has different needs when it comes to a board portal. However, there are certain features that are typically important across all boards.
- Accessibility: Board members should be able to access the portal wherever and whenever they want it.
- Security: When the wrong information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be costly. As such, data security must be the foundation of any great board portal. For example, OnBoard is built on Microsoft Azure, which is the gold standard in cloud security.
- Ease of use: If a board platform is difficult to use, it won’t be widely adopted. It’s important to find a board portal with a clear, intuitive design that makes it easy to get work done.
- Scalability: The best board portals can easily be scaled for multiple boards and committees within the same organization.
- In-app tools and features: The right board portal has all the tools, features, and integrations a board needs to get work done. Ideally, the portal should integrate tools No. 1 through 4 in a single platform.
Improve Efficiency With the Right Board Meeting Tools
Organizations have high expectations of their board members. Boards need access to the right board meeting tools to streamline complex, burdensome tasks — and improve efficiency. A board portal like OnBoard empowers boards to securely access everything they need to fulfill their duties, and achieve more for the organizations they serve.
What did I miss? Does your board prepare board meeting topics in a different way than the steps listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments or reach out to me directly on LinkedIn or Twitter.
About The Author
- At OnBoard, we believe board meetings should be informed, effective, and uncomplicated. That’s why we give boards and leadership teams an elegant solution that simplifies governance. With customers in higher education, nonprofit, health care systems, government, and corporate enterprise business, OnBoard is the leading board management provider.
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