Ask the Expert August 2012
Q: We are considering migrating from a paper board pack to an online board portal, what practical issues do we need to consider in selecting an online service?
A: There are many considerations in addition to the more obvious security and support issues that you are bound to have already on your list. We are likely to cover these areas in detail in future columns, so we will initially look at some less immediately obvious but equally vital questions from the point of view of your company secretarial team.
- Can I set different access rights? You will need to set different access levels for individuals so that your portal can be used by a broad range of executives. You should ensure therefore that your service provider offers a flexible ‘permission system’ which will enable you to give different users different access rights to information.
- Can I set different document action rights? In addition to setting different access rights, you will also want to be able to determine the degree to which users can edit the board materials. You may, for example, want to give some users ‘read-only’ rights, while other users may need full rights to delete, amend and save documents.
- How easy is it to distribute the board materials? Document dissemination should be simple and immediate. A system that sits within your existing IT software with typical user commands such as ‘drag and drop’ will allow your company secretarial team to quickly and easily distribute documents.
When migrating to an online board portal, you should always bear in mind that the experience of your board members when using the system will determine the overall success of the project. Since your board members will have varying levels of computer expertise, any system must be intuitive and easy to use. Questions related to the user-friendliness of the system should include:
- How easy is it for users to access the board materials? Your service provider should offer a quick and easy interface with the board materials. For example, a user should not have to navigate files saved in multiple locations. As an example, the BoardVantage platform includes clickable links to all documentation on the meeting agenda – extremely easy to use for the less IT-literate board members!
- Can users access historical data not included in the current board pack? Past meetings will often be referred to and the ability to access this historical information quickly and simply will be crucial for your board members.
- Can users communicate and collaborate when using the board materials? Your system should provide a secure twoway channel for communication, the sharing of notes and consents and related board processes.
Erin Ruck, BoardVantage
firstname.lastname@example.org tel. +852 2293 2698