• By: OnBoard Meetings
Reading Time: 6 minutes


When new ideas and technologies bloom into existence, they are often met with skepticism. For example, if you told someone a decade ago that we’d have a device that can make video calls, surf the Internet, pinpoint your location on a digital map, and order your pizza all at the same time, they would think you were crazy. The problem is that we fear change. Change means uncertainty, and uncertainty often breeds myths and rumors. When it comes to changing traditional conventions like distributing information through paper board books that have served boardrooms for decades, these myths can spread like a wildfire and make it extremely difficult to see a better, brighter way of doing things.

There are a handful of reigning myths that are impeded the integration of board portal software. One is that switching to a board portal won’t be as easy as using paper documents; another is that data isn’t secure in the cloud; and then there is the thought that that your board may not be ready for it. There are worries that board members may find the technology difficult to use, or they’ll just be paying for a service that can be done with paper for free. And one of the biggest accusations is that board meeting records will be not compliant. It is human nature to have concerns, but it’s comforting to know that none of these myths have merit, and can be explained away with a few simple bits of information.

Myth #1 : Switching to a board portal won’t be as easy as using paper documents.

Which is easier? Passing a stack of paper documents around a table of a dozen or so or pushing a few buttons and sending it to everyone instantly? With Passageways OnBoard, our board management software, directors can access materials digitally from their mobile devices.

Changes and last-minute addendums are no problem with a digital board portal. Materials are centralized in an electronic environment that keeps everyone in the know with current and live information. Remember the hassle of writing down notes and waiting hours, if not days, for an updated version only to discover more errors? One of the core advantages of using a board portal is the immediacy of accessing current materials. No delays. No paper (cuts). No problem.

Myth #2 : My data won’t be as secure as using paper.  

People are concerned about cloud security because it’s a relatively new thing. And that’s one of the reasons many still hold their thick books of paper tightly to their chests. How about an analogy to help those paper huggers understand the cloud a little better?  Imagine a group of men attacking a mailman or FedEx delivery man to steal a parcel. That mailman has no protection, even the dogs are after him, but if that group were to try hacking into your protected digital data, there are barriers and failsafes to prevent any security breaches. After all, there is consensus that even financial transactions are the safer electronically.

There is no undo button for accidentally leaving behind a stack of papers at an airport, or watching your important documents turn to ash when your company’s building catches fire. Amy Sink, Interra’s  CEO, remarked on the challenges of paper; “In a paper world, when you are standing around a copier, pages get missed or get put out of order.” Having a digital version of materials allows for controlled access and distribution. Users may also restrict downloading functions, viewing, sharing or editing capabilities. You can even allow for any conflicts of interest that require you to redact certain part of the board books in the rare situations. Also, materials are encrypted to provide added security. Papers get shuffled, couriers make mistakes, and packages get lost – but in the cloud, it’s protected and accounted for at all times.

Myth #3 : My board members find the technology difficult to use.

Those in prominent corporate positions are used to doing things a certain way and are not always apt to tweaking their processes or the way they communicate. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that your board will not like – or may find it difficult to use – the technology. However, the best way to discover if your board is ready for that leap of faith is to assess where they are by asking yourself a few important questions.

  • Are you providing sufficient time to your board for a meaningful review of the board materials?
  • Does everyone have access to digital files during meetings, but lack organization?
  • Is your board emailing each other during meetings, resulting in confusion about the most recent or complete versions of important documents?
  • Is your board set up for emergency communication or even an ad hoc board meeting if your business requires it?
  • Is your sub-committee structure creating a lot of information that your board could benefit from?  
  • Do your board members use tablets or smartphones? If so, they already know how to use a board portal.
  • Is your board worried about security but does not want to remember yet another complex password? OnBoard features Touch ID, a Bio-metric identification system, which provides personalized security without a password.

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, it might be time to try something new.

Myth #4 : I’ll just be paying for a service I can get for free with paper.

First of all, paper isn’t free, but for some reason we tend to forget that. So let’s talk about the costs of paper usage, and how it compares to the costs of using a board portal. To produce a paper bound board book, one must figure in the labor costs to collect, copy, collate and bind these materials. Also, one must factor in the cost of materials, and the expense of distribution. Then one must consider the time it takes to do all this, and anyone who knows anything about the board meeting preparation frenzy knows that time means money. Yes, there is a subscription to this service. But the cost pays for itself when eliminating labor-intensive assembly, costly materials, and expensive shipping.

Board Portals save you the cost of printing and distributing your board book. Last minute additions will no longer cost an arm and a leg as all revisions will be available to your board instantly. Calculate how much you can save by going paperless with our board portal ROI calculator.

But what about free digital services like Google Docs, email and Dropbox? Can’t a digital board book be shared and used with these digital services? You can use these digital solutions to distribute your board book, but because these services weren’t built to serve boards and board security, they can be just as big as a liability as a paper board book. Emails get lost, Google Docs and Dropbox documents can be easily shared outside of approved personnel and land you in a sticky situation

Board portals are the one stop shop for meeting preparation. Don’t lose track of something as important as a board meeting. OnBoard consolidates all your documents–everything that is important for you to have a successful meeting.

Myth #5 : My board records will not be compliant

Some people worry that their data won’t be compliant with the industry’s standard of security (e.g. HIPAA or Sarbanes Oxley). Good board portal software helps you navigate potential compliance issues. Today, it’s easy to monitor the way your company is maintaining and sharing information. Board portals actually help you with compliance, not hinder you.

Having clean and reproducible records of meeting attendance, past meeting minutes, meeting archives, voting records, policy changes and conflicts of interest handling are all situations every board has to contend with. With a board management software, there are par for the course. This reduces your errors and keeps your board from inadvertent omissions.

In conclusion

Now that you know the truth regarding board portals, it’s time to consider various merits of going digital in your boardroom. After all, all our information starts out as digital. And in this day and age, you should be confident that your board is properly informed and prepared to the make important decisions you trusted them with. And the only way you can guarantee that your board is properly informed is if you give them the time and correct materials to meaningfully review before the meeting begins. The best way to do this is to invest in a board portal, like OnBoard. If you are waiting for the perfect opportunity when all your sitting board members would embrace going digital, you have waited too long. Most boards have a member or two who remain on paper and that’s just the way it goes.

It just requires you to carve out an hour and we can show you how to get started with a free trial today!

If you’d like to learn more about our board portal software, OnBoard, we’re here to answer any questions you might have.


About The Author

OnBoard Meetings
OnBoard Meetings
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.