Best Practices for D&O Questionnaires

Nicholas J Price
6 min read
Most industries have some kind of governing authority that sets forth best practices for organizations, so they have basic guidelines to follow in how they govern themselves. Best practices set the precedent for the best ways of conducting business. The advances in technology are making their way into best practices for most industries, as board directors are seeing how technology can improve best practices to make them more secure, accurate and efficient'all things that make for good governance practices.

D&O questionnaires or Director & Officer questionnaires are a requirement for publicly listed companies. Most board directors will tell you that while they understand the importance of completing these forms every year, it's one of the responsibilities they dread most. The biggest complaint about completing D&O questionnaires is that much of the information is redundant or routine, and many of the questions don't apply to them at all. Another major complaint is that they simply take too much time.

As much as D&O questionnaires are painstaking for board directors, they are equally as laborious for board administrators and legal counsel. In past years, manual D&O questionnaires required much cutting and pasting, scanning and emailing. It takes too much time to follow up on questions that are confusing or that were left blank. Sending documents back and forth with revisions and cross-outs leads to errors.

Best practices require boards to be as efficient as possible. The only way to succeed in this is to move the process for D&O questionnaires to a more secure and efficient online process. Cloud-based systems are the only way to provide the efficiency and security that today's boards need. Online D&O platforms provide many other benefits as well.

How Cloud-Based Systems Support Best Practices

Board administrators must prepare many different types of questionnaires with dozens of pages each, and they must circulate the documents and retrieve them in a short time frame. Given enough time, many board administrators would be happy to do a full rewrite of the previous year's questionnaire. Considering how laborious manual D&O processes are, it's not surprising that board administrators don't often feel like they've put forth their best efforts in sending out the most complete, accurate and reliable D&O questionnaires.

Online D&O questionnaires have changed all that. An online process makes it easy for board administrators to start with the previous year's D&O questionnaire and change the dates. With the help and advice of legal counsel, an online platform makes it easy to update or revise every question on the questionnaire quickly and easily. From there, they can easily pre-populate many of the responses. They can do this for one user, some users or all of them with just a few clicks.

There's no more worry over the time spent compiling D&O questionnaires and getting them ready to send via postal mail or courier. Cloud-based solutions that have the highest security measures like Diligent's D&O questionnaires also alleviate any worries about security issues by sending the questionnaires via email.

Essentially, online platforms for D&O questionnaires offer board administrators the benefits of producing higher-quality D&O questionnaires with greater control and assurance of security.

Cloud-Based D&O Questionnaires Support Best Practices With Top-Notch Efficiency

From the perspective of a board director or officer who needs to fill out the annual D&O questionnaire, staring at a stack of paper from 30 to 80 pages long, you can see how this task often gets put on the back burner until the last possible minute. The reality is that they felt that if they could cut the time required to complete the questionnaire from 50%-80%, it would substantially increase their motivation to get the job done. That's precisely what cloud-based D&O questionnaires have to offer.

After using an online version of a D&O questionnaire, board directors will see that most of the information has been pre-populated for them. This step saves them from having to retype the same information in over and over again. They'll also soon learn that they won't have to skip over questions that don't apply to them. The platform assures that they'll only see the questions that pertain to them.

Directors who are inclined to skip a question will find that the program doesn't allow them to move forward unless they complete the forms fully. This saves the board administrator much time by not having to follow up on questionnaires that are incomplete or completed poorly in haste.

Online D&O questionnaires aid in efficiency because board directors know they can complete the questionnaires accurately and in record time. They'll also appreciate the convenience of being able to complete their questionnaires on mobile devices at whatever location they choose.

The final step before submitting D&O questionnaires is to have the legal or compliance team review the responses and prepare the questionnaires for final submission to the regulatory authorities. Once again, online D&O questionnaires vastly curb the time required to finalize the questionnaires.

Legal or compliance teams will save many hours of work because online platforms like Diligent's D&O questionnaires automate the most labor-intensive parts of the questionnaire process. Cloud-based systems prescreen for changes from prior years and generate alerts for unexpected answers. The program also flags certain types of responses to aid in accuracy. Online D&O questionnaires get returned with completeness, which eliminates errors and unnecessary follow-up. Since board administrators also have online access, they can retrieve the completed D&Os immediately without having to wait for mail or other delivery systems.

Legal and compliance teams can be assured that answers are clear and easy to decipher, which makes it faster and easier to cross-check information.

What Sets Diligent Corporation's D&O Questionnaires Apart From the Rest?

When searching for an online program for D&O questionnaires, corporations expect to get the best product for their money. Diligent Corporation considered the most important issues in technology for D&O software when designing the Diligent D&O questionnaire module. Diligent offers boards the things they most want in a D&O questionnaire software module, like top-level security, ability to customize, cost-effectiveness, award-winning support, and the ability to integrate seamlessly with their board portal and other board software products.

Diligent's D&O questionnaire program stores data on a private cloud. This means that boards won't have to worry about anyone hacking into their data through a shared server or destroying data on the server. Diligent provides strong encryption controls for their products, and state-of-the-art security.

In addition, Diligent provides the D&O questionnaire software that fully integrates into the Diligent Boards portal for a total enterprise governance solution. The design team at Diligent is continually working to expand and enhance their products, which means that clients can count on products being the most innovative ones on the market. The costs are reasonable, and the products come with around-the-clock support, making it a fantastic value. As an add-on, Diligent will even help you set up the initial design of your board's questionnaire.

Diligent gives you everything you need to support best practices for D&O questionnaires and much, much more. Changing to online D&O questionnaires will be a welcome change for your board.