Running board meetings effectively can be a challenging proposition for businesses of all sizes. One way that companies can address this is by incorporating technology into board meetings, mirroring the digitalization that is happening across every sector of the workplace.
Digitalization usually occurs with the hope of streamlining processes, and this is something that seems essential when it comes to meetings. Research published by eShare in 2018 examined the extent of unnecessary and inefficient meetings, concluding that the average office worker spends almost an entire working day in unnecessary meetings every week.
This costs organizations approximately $45,000 annually, and this can then escalate still further when CEOs and other prominent board members are involved, as obviously their time is significantly more costly. When travel costs and other expenses are taken into consideration, the whole undertaking becomes a money burning exercise if it is not planned and implemented carefully.
So how can organizations make use of technology and utilize the digital revolution to improve the quality and relevance of the board meetings?
It is widely acknowledged that board meetings have failed to embrace the modernization associated with other aspects of business. For some reason, digitalization and digital transformation hasn't touched board meetings, which tend to retain processes and procedures that can be viewed as dated, or even antiquated.
Yet running more efficient board meetings can have a major impact on any business, not least by enabling important personnel across the organization to invest more time in other activities that can be equally profitable.
Board meetings are also an exemplar for the entire organization. If this most important form of meeting is focused, efficient and effective, then it stands to reason that other departmental meetings should assume similar qualities. This can really have a big impact on the way that discussions and dialogue occur across an entire organization.
The first step that can help when incorporating technology into board meetings is simply engaging in more holistic preparation. This can be a lengthy process for traditional meetings, and yet digital processes can assist here quite considerably.
All meeting materials can be made accessible via digital means, or even mobile platforms in modern commerce. This will make it so much easier for board members to access and familiarize themselves with materials in advance; for example, during travel downtime.
This new level of convenience will undoubtedly be appreciated, but it can even help improve the actual quality of discussion. As it's easier for board members and attendees to peruse important information ahead of the meeting, they will be more informed during the meeting, and are more likely to make a sustained and insightful contribution.
There is also an ecological aspect to this. Removing the need to print out everything associated with a meeting naturally reduces the environmental cost involved.
Technology can also make it possible to deliver granular permissions for different documents and users. This can be a major issue with board meetings, particularly if some attendees shouldn't be privy to certain important documents. Digital solutions make it much easier to share key documentation based on such privileges.
This can also be useful if external directors are attending a meeting, and classified information is involved in some of the preparatory materials.
Helping with Onboarding
Digital Technology can, in fact, assist with the process of running board meetings from the very first day that an executive joins an organization. Digital processes can be extremely helpful with onboarding, providing centralized resources, streamlined forms, and one-step communication updates.
Utilizing a software package can transform all of these processes, transforming onboarding from a monotonous and laborious task into one that runs seamlessly. This can then be repeated across the organization, ensuring that the necessary procedure doesn't need to be the headache that it has been previously.
Another important area where technology can improve board meetings is in streamlining the planning process. Meeting scheduling can be automated, eliminating the tedious process of arranging meetings via endless emails and phone calls. Board administrators can also build and share dynamic agendas that address everything your board needs to discuss, ensuring that you keep meetings on track. Documents can also be held in one central place, so that these can even be referred to during the meeting.
Technology can also help you to improve the process of facilitation. In some quite innovative and not immediately obvious ways. For example, digital board meeting technology can enable digital voting, before, during and after the meeting. This takes the responsibility away from your board members who can sometimes have a vested interest in the process or else are consumed with other aspects of their working lives.
Digital technology also enables virtual and hybrid board meetings, which are becoming increasingly popular both in the post-COVID environment, and also a society that is more dispersed in terms of its working locations.
Naturally, the advantage of being able to host board meetings at any time, completely regardless of where your board members are located is a huge advantage, and opens up all sorts of possibilities that would have been previously unfeasible.
Digital technology can also help you to record the minutes of the meeting more accurately, providing an official record of all of the important information that is permanent and indelible. By utilizing technology in these areas, the process becomes far more efficient, and the quality of discussion and information derived from board meetings is inevitably improved.
Collaboration and Security Provisions
Technology also has a role in improving collaboration and heightening security. During any board meeting, online meeting tools can be used to help attendees collaborate and annotate documents. Actions can be more easily captured due to these collaboration tools, so that our fallible human memories are taken out of the loop - always to be recommended!
Board members therefore benefit from a smoother process that aids decision-making, and are consequently more easily able to interact and create with those in attendance.
The security aspects of technology also shouldn't be understated. This is particularly important in the contemporary environment, in which all manner of sensitive information is discussed during board meetings. The overall strategy of the business, profits, losses, staff remuneration, sensitive client information, and data security are just some of the critical issues that tend to be discussed during these important meetings.
Of course, much of this is hugely confidential, and therefore there is, by definition, a security requirement involved in virtually every board meeting that is ever held by any organization. In short, it is critical that none of this data ever finds its way into the public domain, thanks to simple human error.
And this can be problematical when meeting processes remain in place that are increasingly obsolete and pose a risk to data security. Using online board portals can vastly improve the way that data security is implemented at a level of seniority. Board members can gain greater access to all important information, while being assured that it is stored in a highly secure fashion.
This removes the danger of board executives accidentally leaving confidential materials in a public place, as technology secures the data, removing the need for physical documents.
Most modern board meeting members would also observe the need for improved governance in corporate procedures. A more digital approach to board meetings will help to improve this aspect of operations, as well as increasing transparency.
Online board portals can help embed governance into the leadership of an organization, as well as its decision-making processes, simply by demonstrating clearly what was said in a meeting, and by whom. As a knock-on effect of this, governance is improved, and this can provide a genuine insight into how important decisions are reached.
Using technology in the planning and implementation of board meetings can also make it easier to check legal requirements and any constitutional documents associated with your organization. Security checklists contained in digital packages can also help to enhance this process.
Technology can also play a major role in ensuring that you always have reliable communications in place. IT infrastructure and the connectivity that it provides can be extremely important should transportation be impeded in some way. However, it is important for organizations to ensure that internet bandwidth is always available.
Outside of the Boardroom
Technology solutions also make it possible to maintain productivity outside of the boardroom. This helps companies continue to benefit from efficient board meetings, even after the events have taken place.
Vital decisions are taken during board meetings, but it's only after they take place that the insights are implemented. Digital software solutions take this important reality into account, making it possible to efficiently implement any decisions that are taken during the meeting. This is achieved by providing a list of tasks for individual board members to follow, ensuring that objectives are adequately addressed.
Even the most engaged board members often struggle to follow all of the fallout from board meetings, particularly if they don't understand their responsibilities, or these haven’t been made clear. Board meeting software makes it possible to designate such responsibilities, updating tasks as they are completed, ensuring that board members are kept on track with their personal responsibilities.
Technology also makes it easier for people to keep in touch after the meeting. It is possible to create email groups, for example, that copy-in everyone privy to the board meeting, and exclude those who shouldn't have access to the information.
All of your board members should be provided with all of the necessary communication tools to reach out to one another, enabling the sharing of resources to be completed more conveniently. This all helps towards the goal of achieving individual objectives in the process, improving both the functioning and outcomes of your board meetings.
Technology can also help you assess the progress that you're making towards the goals agreed within meetings. Reporting tools make it possible to stringently set goals, both for the board and the organization as a whole. This helps you to focus on achievement and development, rather than experiencing a disconnect between the discussion in meetings and your actual everyday processes.
By implementing technology, the running and management of board meetings can be hugely simplified, and made considerably more efficient and effective. This can enable your board to reinvest its focus into strategizing, setting your organization up for success and implementing everyday processes more effectively.
Although board meetings have historically been face-to-face and based on verbal communication, that doesn't mean that they should continue in this way indefinitely. The digitization of processes associated with board meetings can be beneficial for employees right across an organization, leading to improved governance, security, efficiency, and overall better outcomes.
BoardShape is a prime example of a digital package that is already helping organizations of all sizes to run more effective meetings. BoardShape makes it possible to schedule your meetings more efficiently, with the software handling all of the organization.
You can also build an agenda, add documents and schedule a time to send them to appropriate people. BoardShape even removes the need for attachments by making it possible to send documents via a direct link.
With three packages to suit businesses of all sizes, BoardShape grows with your company, making the running of board meetings and the related governance considerably more convenient and efficient BoardShape is demonstrating how technology can deliver simplicity to organizations, at a price that is affordable - invaluable considering the money that organizations are currently squandering on inefficient and ineffective board meetings.