A board portal is organizational governance software that facilitates secure digital communication and collaboration among members of a board of directors. Common board portal features include messaging capabilities, document storage, digital voting tools, a platform to record meeting minutes, and other tools that streamline day-to-day tasks. This type of software is developed specifically to support boards’ unique needs.
Not all board portal software is created equally, though. Each platform has unique features and comes at different pricing points. This can make it difficult to narrow down your options. You need to take the time to analyze what matters most to your board, so you can select the tools that will promote efficiency and make the board experience more enjoyable, all while staying within your budget.
To help, our board management experts have put together this complete board portal buying guide. Our goal is to help you learn why you need this type of software and what to prioritize in your search. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The 5 Major Benefits of Board Portals
- How To Choose The Right Board Portal
- What To Ask Your Board Portal Vendor
- Powerful Board Software From Boardable
Here at Boardable, we’re constantly looking for ways to empower today’s board leaders to excel in their roles. We wholly believe that the technology a board uses plays a major role in what they’re able to accomplish. With a better idea of what you should prioritize for your board portal, you’ll be well-equipped to get started in your search and find the right solution.
The 5 Major Benefits of Board Portals
If you’re not convinced that a board portal is a right move, it’s worth it to look into the benefits this type of software can bring to the boardroom. Not to mention, making sure you’re well-versed in the advantages can help you position it as a cost-effective choice and gain buy-in from board members when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
Board Portal Benefit #1) Centralized and Mobile Access
Your board members will have centralized access to everything they need. After logging into your board portal, they’ll be able to see meeting materials, messages from fellow board members, organizational policies, their assignments, and whatever else they need. Not to mention, mobile access ensures they can access everything on the go, which is ideal for making time-sensitive decisions.
Board Portal Benefit #2) Quicker Meeting Preparation
You know that board meetings are a vital time where board members collaborate and bring powerful insights to the table. Maximize every moment in the boardroom by making sure everyone comes prepared. With a dedicated board portal, here’s what you can expect from a preparation standpoint:
Administrators can easily find the best meeting times, then compile and distribute board books within minutes. Not to mention, they can view which directors actually did their prep work.
Board members can review meeting documents and double-check that they’ve finished all their assignments ahead of your meeting.
Spend less time talking about what needs to be discussed and more time actually having those discussions thanks to the tools within your board portal.
Board Portal Benefit #3) Better Governance
Board portals empower leaders to uphold and improve their organization’s governance. Board chairs can maintain better control over meetings with the right board portal features, increasing productivity in the boardroom. With dedicated board management tools, you can cover everything on your agenda, seamlessly conduct votes, and protect your board from liability by recording sound minutes.
Outside of the boardroom, review and comment on board documents, and handle action items in a timely manner, increasing everyone’s accountability. You’ll boost engagement and make everyone much more effective in their roles, which are ideal for effective governance.
Board Portal Benefit #4) Strong Security
Anytime you’re dealing with technology, there’s an inherent security risk. Emailing board documents or sharing them with free editions of online file-sharing services pose real security risks. Not to mention, more complicated file-sharing services with more security can be a nuisance for directors to navigate.
Dedicated board portals recognize the unique security challenges boards face and offer protected, user-friendly solutions directly targeted to common board activities. They come equipped with secure socket layers (SSL) protection, enforce password policies, and use encryption to protect sensitive data (such as PCI compliant tools to protect your payment information). That way, you can trust that what happens within your board portal stays between you and your board.
Board Portal Benefit #5) Paperless Management
Paper binders are heavy to lug around. Not to mention, they’re costly to produce for all of your board members. Reduce your carbon footprint and go paperless with your board activities. Board portals make it easy to store your documents online, so your board directors don’t have to worry about keeping up with paper files.
How To Choose The Right Board Portal
Before investing in new technology, you should assess what your board actually needs versus what would be nice to have. This will help make sure you spend every dollar wisely.
When narrowing down your options, make sure your board portal comes equipped with everything your team needs to promote collaboration and improve governance. Let’s take a look at several “must-have” items for boards.
Board Portal Feature #1) Meetings Center
Scheduling and facilitating meetings should be simple. Ensure your board portal comes equipped with meeting management tools that will make sure your team is as efficient as possible in the boardroom. You should be able to do the following:
Automate meeting scheduling and notifications. Eliminate the hours-long process of scheduling board and committee meetings. You can propose a range of meeting times, then attendees will pick their choice. You’ll be able to pick the time that’s convenient for as many people as possible.
Attach documents and polls to meetings. Board members might need to take a look at a specific document for an upcoming discussion, or maybe you want them to review decision-making items in advance. In either case, make sure you can attach documents and polls to specific meetings so everyone can come prepared.
Give users a dashboard of upcoming meetings. Make sure your board members don’t miss a single meeting or preparation item. They should have a dashboard that displays upcoming meetings, where they can quickly review the agenda, scheduled polls, assigned tasks, and more. They should also be able to review past meetings from the dashboard in case they need to take a look at the minutes or other details.
Your meetings are a crucial time for your board. With automated processes within your board portal, you can focus more on preparing for them than finding the best meeting times or manually sending out action items. That way, everyone can focus on governance and strategizing for your mission.
Learn About Our Meetings Center
Board Portal Feature #2) Secure Document Management
Your board handles a lot of documents on a daily basis. What’s more, these documents often have to do with your strategic direction, meaning they need to be protected from unpermitted users. Make sure your board portal solution comes equipped with a secure document center to host all the files your board needs in a central place.
Your board portal’s document management tools should:
Use a familiar file-sharing format. Your board won’t want to learn how to manage a complicated document storage system. Make sure your board portal leverages the same types of tools as traditional file-hosting services, such as being able to organize documents into folders and search for the files you need.
Offer e-signing capabilities to speed up document signing. Whether you’re approving the minutes or having new members sign agreement forms and policies, e-signatures eliminate the hassle of traditional paper signatures. A board portal with e-signatures will enable you to upload documents, request signatures from specific individuals, and view the status of signatures in one place.
Prioritize security. Keep your documents private with extra security features specifically for your resources. Make sure you can restrict access to certain files and folders to keep board and committee documents safe.
Sharing and managing files should be easy. Even if you want to continue leveraging other file sharing services like Dropbox or Google Drive, your board portal can help consolidate those records. When you have a board portal with centralized storage, your board members won’t have to dig through email attachments or worry about sensitive information’s security ever again.
Board Portal Feature #3) Agenda Builder
Every productive meeting starts with a detailed plan that explains exactly what needs to be covered. Instead of relying on unintuitive word documents, use your board portal to build dynamic agendas within your board portal.
Your software should enable you to:
- Save agendas as new templates to speed up the planning process for future meetings
- Assign agenda items to individual users so everyone comes prepared
- Designate how long each agenda item should take so the meeting stays on track
- Securely share your agenda as interactive PDFs with attendees
Meeting planning has never been simpler thanks to board portals that offer a designated agenda builder. Not to mention, your secretary should be able to build off of your agenda by using it as a template for the minutes. No need to start minutes from scratch!
Board Portal Feature #4) Task Manager
Every productive board meeting winds up producing a lot of assignments. Make sure everyone knows what tasks they’re responsible for completing with your board portal’s task manager. That way, no one comes to the next meeting wondering who was meant to finalize an upcoming campaign’s budget for the board’s approval, take photos at a volunteer event, or finish any other crucial task.
Increase accountability with powerful task management features like:
- The ability to attach tasks to a specific meeting
- A dashboard personalized for each user with assigned tasks and due dates
- The option for account administrators to view tasks so that they can follow up with the appropriate board members
Make sure everyone’s doing their part and being the best board member they can be. With a board portal that offers task management, you can increase each person’s productivity without hassle.
Board Portal Feature #5) Virtual Voting
Your board makes important decisions every day, and paper ballots are a thing of the past. Make sure your board portal enables virtual voting, so you can quickly tally votes and arrive at decisions quickly.
Whether your board members are voting on catering for an upcoming event or finalizing your annual fundraising budget, virtual voting tools allow them to contribute whenever they are needed.
With a board portal that offers virtual voting, it doesn’t matter if they’re joining in person or remotely. They’ll be able to participate and let their voices be reflected in your board’s final decisions. Plus, anonymous voting for sensitive issues makes everyone more comfortable, ensuring no one will feel pressured or uneasy when voting honestly.
Explore Our Virtual Voting Tools
Board Portal Feature #6) Virtual and Hybrid Meetings
Virtual participation is now crucial for boards everywhere. Don’t put your board members in an uncomfortable position by making them attend when they’re sick. And even when they don’t have any health concerns, board members can join remotely when their schedule is packed, so they don’t have to worry about travel time or expenses.
Make sure your board portal comes equipped with virtual meeting tools, enabling you to:
Use integrated video conferencing without needing a separate video conferencing app. At the very least, you should be able to integrate with leading video conferencing apps like Zoom.
Easily share the agenda and other documents to keep everyone on the same page. No need to toggle through different tabs when everything’s available on one screen.
Record clear meeting minutes in real-time, so your secretary can capture ideas, tasks, and decisions without shuffling between multiple tools.
Conducting remote and hybrid meetings is incredibly convenient for your board members, especially when people don’t need a second monitor or multiple open tabs to participate in your meetings.
What To Ask Your Board Portal Vendor
When you’ve picked out a few board portals that check off your boxes, how do you select the right one? During your demos with different board portal vendors, make sure you have a list of questions ready.
A few areas you’ll want to inquire about include:
Security. How secure is the board portal? Security is a major factor for any technology your board uses. You’ll want to determine whether your board portal implements state-of-the-art security practices. For instance, Boardable uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certification to encrypt browser data and Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is the highest industry standard for data storage with industry-recognized certifications and audits. Not to mention, we enforce a password policy, preventing users from using any of the top 1,000 most commonly used passwords and requiring passwords to have at least 8 characters. Our team also conducts an annual test where we simulate a cyberattack against our systems to locate any vulnerabilities.
Adoptability. How easy will it be to implement your new software? Will the vendor walk you through how to use it? Do they have support articles or other training materials that will help you navigate your new platform? Your board doesn’t have time to waste. Ask your board portal vendor about how easy it will be for your team to get up and running with the new platform.
Reputation and service. Is the board portal vendor well-known in the space, and do they provide responsive customer service? Beyond initial training, you need to know if your vendor provides customer service to help overcome any complications with the software. Check to see if they’ve won any awards, too. This can be an indicator of how external groups perceive the board portal vendor. For instance, Boardable has been recognized by reputable platforms such as G2, Capterra, and Software Advice over the years.
- Pricing. Your organization has a strict budget with which you need to work. Does the board portal come at an affordable price? Can you choose a package with the features you need? Take Boardable for instance. Select a package and gain access to the features you need, starting at $79 per month. Scale up to other plans to gain access to even more useful features.
Go into your board portal demos with these key questions in mind. In the end, you’ll have what you need to present to the rest of the board to make a final decision.
Powerful Board Software From Boardable
Boardable offers all of these great features we’ve talked about! Developed by a team of board experts, we know the types of tools your team needs to make time-sensitive decisions at a moment’s notice. Created for modern leaders, Boardable empowers all types of mission-driven organizations to accelerate their work and save time both in and outside of the boardroom.
Whether you’re in meetings or between them, your board will have centralized access to the tools it needs to power your mission. Participate in polls, collaborate on documents, divide assignments, meet virtually, and much more. Gain access to dozens of helpful features that will make your board’s work enjoyable. Whether they’re using their laptop or mobile device, board members can serve your organization wherever they are, either using the user-friendly web interface or the convenient mobile app.
Plus, we’re constantly evolving our software. We welcome any suggestions that will make our software better and your job as a board leader simpler.
If you aren’t quite sure whether you’re ready to take the plunge, sign up for a free trial. You’ll gain free access to the board management platform for two weeks—no commitment required. Your board will see the tools in action and be able to decide whether Boardable is right for them!
Wrapping Up The Discussion on Board Portals
As you now see, almost every aspect of board service can be streamlined with a board portal. These platforms are designed specifically to meet the needs of modern boards like yours. It’s up to you to find the right platform that offers all the tools you need at a price that falls within your budget.
While we might be a bit biased, Boardable is a great option for any sized board that’s looking to boost productivity during and between meetings. Enhance the board experience and focus more on leading, not just managing, with our powerful board management software.
In the meantime, don’t stop learning about effective board management practices. Check out these helpful resources from the Boardable team:
Accessible Board Software and Its Role in the Boardroom. Board service should be open to all individuals, regardless of their accessibility needs. Learn more about the accessibility features your board needs.
How to Boost Board Engagement and Create an Energized Team. Your software contributes to your members’ engagement, but what other factors should you prioritize? Learn more about board engagement and what steps you can take to reinvigorate your team.
The Board Administrator: A Q&A Guide for Nonprofits. Being a board administrator can be tough work. Learn how to master the role in no time with this beginner’s guide to the role.