Board Portal Usage: Tips & Tricks

Nicholas J Price
6 min read
Board directors face many pressures inside and outside the boardroom. They're acutely aware of how much is riding on their every decision. Shareholders, customers, managers, employees, regulatory bodies and legislators are watching their every move. Board directorship is a part-time position, but it's an important job that carries much weight. The key to efficient board management is to use all the tools that boards have at their disposal and use the time that they save to work on the complex, time-consuming issues that rightly demand their attention.

A board portal is designed to automatically manage and streamline tasks that tend to eat up a board director's valuable time. A board portal allows board directors to work on board business anywhere in the world at any time of day or night while knowing that their board documents are secure and confidential. If there's a problem, board directors want assurance that they can get an answer to a question fast, so they can get to work again right away. A board portal is a necessity in today's fast-paced corporate world.

Increasing Board Portal Usage

For existing board portal users, there may be features that you're not making the best use of. A few tips and tricks will help you streamline board processes even more. For example, if it's taking more than five minutes to build your board books, Diligent Boards can help you streamline the process and provide you with several other helpful board portal shortcuts.

1) How to Build Board Meeting Books in Five Minutes

Most board administrators spend somewhere between a few hours to a few days putting their board books together for a board meeting. If you're using a non-secure board portal or time-consuming paper processes, you have a lot to worry about from a security perspective.

Your board needs an electronic board portal that automatically encrypts documents as you upload them and reformats them into the PDF format automatically before you send them to ensure that they're protected in storage and during transmittal.

2) What Are the Steps to Building Board Books Online?

The first step to building your board book is to organize your files. Request files from the various departments, including marketing, finance, executive, IT and sales. You will likely receive the documents in various formats such as Excel, Word, PDF, JPEG and PowerPoint. If you were to send out paper board books, these files would still be in various formats. Diligent Boards automatically converts documents into PDFs upon uploading, which is a huge time-saver.

If your meetings tend to have similar formats and content, there's no need to create a new board book from scratch. You can simply copy the most recent board book and rename it. You can also create a board book from scratch if you choose and then give it a new title and a future date.

Find your files and just drag and drop them into the electronic board book. The program will automatically create tabs and drop the files into the proper sections. After uploading the documents, you can reorder them in any way that you wish. Then you can send the board book out to the proper parties for rounds of approval, which usually include the board administrator or the board chair.

Any time you enter the portal, you can easily see that files in red have not yet been approved. Administrators or board chairs can then approve individual documents, individual files, all documents within one tab or the entire board book. Once all documents have been approved, they appear in black.

At this point, the board book is approved, but it hasn't been published, so it will be marked as hidden. When you're ready to make it available to others, you can publish it to a few people or make it available for everyone. You also have the option of disallowing certain people from viewing it.

From a user perspective, a published board book will display board meeting materials, published reports and committee files that pertain to them. Imagine accomplishing all these tasks within five minutes!

3) Time-Savers for Board Directors and Executives

Convenience is a major asset. Once the board book has been published, users can download it and work on it offline. The navigation tools let users scroll up, down, right and left. Turn the page by swiping left, as you would on an e-book. Use the navigation pane to jump quickly to any page.

You can use different-colored highlighters to annotate words, phrases or sections. You also have the option of using an electronic pen to circle items or write notes in freehand. You can even add a sticky note if you prefer and designate who can see it. When you want to share your annotations, those you share them with will get a notification when they log in.

The process for making updates is also fast and easy. When a user makes updates, they can approve them without having to re-approve the entire board book. When users go into the portal after an update, they will see that a change has been made and they only need to download the new changes, not the entire board book. This makes the updates load faster.

4) Providing Tablets for Use in the Boardroom

Many boards are finding that it makes sense to provide the same electronic tablets to every member of the board meeting. Since everyone has their own log-in and they should have prepared for the meeting ahead of time, all they need to do is show up for the meeting and log in. Their board books will have all their notes loaded and ready for discussion. After the meeting, all the Corporate Secretary needs to do is collect the tablets. This saves time and eliminates the worry over papers getting loose and confiscated. There's no need to shred scratch papers with notes on them that could be misconstrued or taken out of context.

5) Multiple Log-in Capability

A fair number of board directors sit on more than one board. Whether a director sits on one board or six boards, they can use Diligent Boards to log into each board book using one log-in. All board books are designated separately and they're all highly secure. None of the books or the documents in them are intermingled.

6) Mobility Means Freedom

Mobility is important for everyone, but especially for busy board directors and executives who are often traveling or otherwise on the go. Diligent Boards is accessible by laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you lose a device, there's still no worries. The remote-wiping capability wipes the device clean.

These tips and tricks for using Diligent Boards will add precious minutes and hours to your workdays.
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