Customer Stories

Granite Partners

Granite Partners gained the tools it needed to increase board effectiveness and efficiency with OnBoard’s board management software.

Granite Partners 2


Industry: Financial

Campus: St. Cloud, Minnesota

Board Management Goals

  • Increased efficiency
  • Collaboration enablement
  • Secure storage
  • Continuous improvement


  • Increased board effectiveness and efficiency
  • Central, secure document repository
  • Tools that support continuous improvement goals

A Well-Run Community of Associated Boards

For 20 years, Granite Partners, a Minnesota-based private investment and holding company, has invested in companies with local roots. Effective boards play a crucial role in their mission of growing companies to create value for all stakeholders. “An effective board supports and enables growth,” says Shelly Bauerly Kopel, a firm Partner.

Granite Partners follows the ‘engaged board’ model. “We think about the role of the board as providing insight and enabling conversations. We have governance trios for each of the 10 Granite Companies that include the Board Chair, the CEO, and a Granite Partners leader,” Bauerly Kopel says. The model allows for the independence of each company, while bringing a shared practices framework to create a common language and build efficiencies on core and common board processes.

“OnBoard is a great tool for leveraging our collective work, for supporting our governing practices, and for gaining efficiencies as we work together across the Granite Company boards.”  

Bauerly Kopel

— Shelly Bauerly Kopel
Partner, Granite Partners


The Road to Enhancement With the OnBoard Platform

Granite Partners had been using tools like SharePoint and email to support the companies’ boards, and those tools served their purpose. However, they wanted a tool that enabled greater efficiency and effectiveness in governance. That search led them to the OnBoard Board Management Platform.

“We were thinking about continuous improvements, efficiencies, and effectiveness,” says Bauerly Kopel. “We outgrew the older tools centered around collaboration and document storage.” Six months of research, due diligence, and board management software demos ensued. “We were trying to find a world-class option,” Bauerly Kopel says, “complete with a solid platform, first-rate security, and features that optimized efficiency and effectiveness.”

They also wanted more than a vendor. “We like to partner with organizations that will grow with us,” Bauerly Kopel says. “We look long-term in all our system decisions — and we don’t choose products or service firms that only provide a near-term benefit.”

According to Bauerly Kopel, both ease-of-use and automation of common governance tasks were crucial factors in the choice. “We saw a pattern of OnBoard continually innovating,” she adds. “That was really important to us.”

On the security side, Granite Partners’ CEO and technology director, along with other technology partners, assessed various security measures and certifications in collaboration with the OnBoard technology team. Following that process, the team felt comfortable and confident that OnBoard provided first-class security.

Implementation as Opportunity

Granite Partners Board Administrator Cindy Lamp gives the OnBoard training a 10 out of 10. After the training, she says, “All the members were able to get in and do what they needed to do.”

Granite Partners decided to launch OnBoard with all 10 of the Granite Company boards simultaneously. They got started with the basics, what Bauerly Kopel describes as a “minimally viable product,” understanding they would add features and functionality over time.

“We had around 60 people on that training call,” Bauerly Kopel says. “And we had a great training. It was an opportunity
for us to refresh the context, the vision, and how we think about the board role in the Granite community. But we also discussed very specifically how we wanted to leverage OnBoard to improve governance efficiency and effectiveness.”

Enabling Efficiencies

OnBoard has further enabled the gains Granite Partners had been making in building more efficient board processes. For example, they can now provide board members with easy access to sensitive audit and valuation documents in a single, well-organized and easy-to-navigate location.

Another example is an improvement in taking, capturing, and approving board minutes. Lamp says, “We knew that we could take minutes approval to a new level, but we needed a tool to do it. The Minutes Builder in OnBoard is the feature we needed.”

In both examples, pre-meeting access reduces the time spent on logistical tasks during board meetings, allowing more time for strategic discussion and decision-making.

Lamp says the OnBoard user experience helps promote efficiencies in multiple ways, including “making it easy for the management teams to quickly and efficiently upload material for the board packet and for administrators to efficiently create those packets.”

Satisfaction in Making the Right Choice

Bauerly Kopel and Lamp estimate that using OnBoard has resulted in efficiency gains of around 50% for board administrators and 15% to 20% for Board Chairs, CEOs, management teams, and directors.

Bauerly Kopel says, “We also have been receiving the same level of responsiveness, service, and care from the OnBoard team today as we did during the due diligence process. OnBoard’s support is at the same high level it was at the beginning.”

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