What is a Board Portal?
A board portal is a software for streamlining corporate governance processes. Board portals are designed with features to help save time, improve efficiencies, and enhance the effectiveness of meetings, collaboration and decision-making for boards, committees, and executive leadership teams. Board portal features often include meeting management, digital agendas, minutes, approvals, voting, signatures, annotations, document storage, email, and surveys. As a must-have in boardrooms today, board portal software transforms workflows by digitizing what have traditionally been paper-based corporate governance processes.
Understanding the Board Portal Market
The board portal market is growing rapidly because software has fundamentally changed the way boards, committees, and executive leadership teams communicate. Without a board portal, communications were typically paper and fax-based—or done using multiple tools, instead of one. Organizations would send out hard copy board books in advance of meetings, and directors met in person to plan agenda topics. Until recently, this approach to managing communications was sufficient. But old-school paper processes are simply too inefficient to keep up in the modern world. Board books are difficult to update and subject to loss; faxes are unreliable and present security issues.
Today, regulatory scrutiny, greater globalization, deeper competitive pressures, and an increase in shareholder activity have increased the volume of work and the need for a digital solution. To align with the changing needs of boards, committees, and executive leadership teams, many organizations have implemented board portal software. A board portal helps optimize meeting management, streamline the board book creation process, and tighten information security.
What are the Benefits of Using Board Portal Software?
Board portal software is designed to support boards, committees, and executive leadership teams, helping them work together more efficiently, productively, and strategically. Board portal benefits include:
- Efficient Meeting Management. Use a board portal to easily create meetings, add details, attach documents, track attendance, and initiate remote meetings.
- Improved Document Management. A board portal serves as a document repository, with the ability to view, edit, share, and search for materials. Plus, version tracking makes it easy to know when changes have been made to documents and by whom.
- Streamlined Collaboration. Use a board portal to add comments and private or shared notes to documents and tag specific users or groups.
- Enhanced Governance. A board portal supports an enhanced workflow for meeting management, operations, and collaboration processes. Simplify stages of the board meeting lifecycle—before, during, and after meetings.
- Added Security. A board portal is designed with multiple layers of security to help protect information within the software, as well as the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of such information.
What Board Portal Features are Important to Look for?
A board portal automates tasks at various stages of the board meeting lifecycle. To help save time, streamline collaboration, and manage sensitive information, look for these board portal features:
- Meeting Manager. Plan meetings with the ability to link calendars, add details, attach documents, track attendance, and initiate remote meetings.
- Digital Agenda. Build, distribute, and archive meeting agendas with the option to leverage templates or create new agendas from scratch.
- Meeting Minutes. Navigate the compilation, circulation, approval, and storage of minutes built from digital agendas.
- Dashboard. View meetings, calendars, valuable files, internal and external links, and important documents in a single ‘homepage’ view.
- Robust Search. Locate information by searching individual or all documents, with the ability to filter by keywords, date range, groups, and file type.
- Board Book Creation. Create board books comprised of many file types and simply link board books to digital agendas and meeting invites.
- Task Management. Create, assign, and track actions to streamline workflows associated with individual or group tasks.
- Reporting. Run reports related to user details, permissions, document statistics, meeting attendance, and retention policies.
- Email. Communicate sensitive information with internal and external stakeholders with the ability to send alerts to personal email and enable push notifications.
- Approvals & Voting. Approve and vote on written consents, budgets, meeting minutes, resolutions, and more.
- Surveys. Build and distribute surveys, questionnaires, and evaluations with the ability to use templates, customize question types, pre-fill responses, view progress, and send reminders.
- Signatures. Digitize signatures on transactions and other sensitive documents. Track status and notify users of pending signatures.
- Annotations. Add private and shared annotations and notes to documents and share with specific users, with additional capabilities to highlight, draw, and drop pins.
- Notifications. Send and receive notifications when documents are completed and ready for review, as well as when documents require editing.
- Presenter Mode. Initiate remote meetings, with the ability to manage presentation flow and pass control to other presenters.
- Customization. Configure and customize branding, permissions, and module settings, as well as create group spaces aligned with affiliates, subsidiaries, divisions, and departments.
- Permission Settings. Set permissions and restrict access for individual documents or entire folders, giving specified users access to information in the way it is intended.
- Document Repository. Store documents, customize folder structures, and configure retention settings to align with the organization’s corporate governance policies.
- Remote Purge. Purge documents and notes centrally, even if out of Wi-Fi range, in case a device is lost or stolen.
- Single Sign-On (SSO). Streamline the sign-on process and compliance with the organization’s security requirements using a centralized login for multiple systems.
How Secure are Board Portals?
Security is one of the most important considerations when choosing board portal software. Cyber criminals and threats are growing more sophisticated and malicious. As a result, cyberattacks are not just costly, they may negatively affect brand perception and stakeholder loyalty. Because board portal software often stores confidential information, it is important that a board portal is built with multiple layers of security, including application security, infrastructure security, process security, and physical and personnel security. Additionally, providers should obtain industry standard SOC 2 and ISO 27001 certifications for their board portal software to demonstrate the security controls in place that help protect the confidentiality and integrity of board documents.
Who Uses Board Portal Software?
Board portal software is typically used by board, committee, and executive leadership team members across public, private, and non-profit organizations in all industries:
- Corporate Secretaries & General Counsel. Corporate secretaries don’t just plan meetings and take minutes, they work directly with directors to make sure they have the information they need to be successful. Jumping between disparate tools and apps makes meeting coordination unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming. A board portal can help corporate secretaries and general counsel more effectively communicate and coordinate with the executive leadership team and manage sensitive organizational information.
- Directors & Executives. It is important that directors and executives are prepared for meetings and can meaningfully contribute to discussions and action on oversight responsibilities. Managing multiple logins and hopping between platforms takes up time that could be spent adding value to the organization and its stakeholders. With a board portal, directors and executives can collaborate through a centralized messaging system and easily access information in one place.
- IT & Information Security. IT and information security teams are responsible for establishing security controls throughout the technology stack. Board portal software can be a better way to maintain data security without inhibiting communications and document sharing. Robust security is an important board portal feature, with the priority of protecting sensitive and confidential information.
How to Choose the Best Board Portal Software for Your Organization’s Needs
When choosing a board portal, it is important for boards, committees, and leadership teams to assess their specific needs, current processes, and potential areas for improvement. When evaluating whether a board portal is the right fit for your organization, consider these factors:
- Security. To reduce risk, board portal software should be built on a robust security framework and hosted in hardened data centers. When evaluating a provider, keep in mind that a board portal should have end-to-end security features and processes, such as customizable end-user permission settings, unique per-customer encryption keys, two-factor authentication capabilities, third party conducted penetration tests of the software, managed and industry certified data centers, and security audits, such as a SOC2.
- Features & Functionalities. A board portal should be a vehicle to help drive good corporate governance. Leveraging board portal features and functionalities helps streamline corporate governance practices, as well as collaboration and decision-making for boards, committees, and executive leadership teams. It is important to understand how various board portal features and functionalities may optimize your organization’s current workflows.
- Potential Time Savings. Using a board portal often saves time and improves workflow efficiencies. When considering a board portal, assess your current processes—and the time they take. Manual and paper-based processes may be slow and cumbersome for the work of modern-day boards, committees, and executive leadership teams. Digitizing your boardroom by leveraging a board portal may free up time so that you can focus on other responsibilities.
- Potential Cost Savings. In addition to reducing manual and paper-based processes, a board portal may lead to organizational cost savings related to time, labor, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Take an inventory of current budgetary items to understand how board portal software may optimize financial performance. Additionally, review board portal pricing to ensure that all features and functionalities are included in the upfront board portal cost—which may save you money in the long run.
- Customization. Board portal software should offer a level of flexibility and customization that aligns with your organization’s needs. Assess whether branding and messaging are important to the ‘look and feel’ of your board portal. A board portal interface may be customized with your organization’s logo and color scheme. Additionally, consider whether a board portal has customizable permission settings for user access to documents, folders, and group spaces.
- Customer Service. Customer service experiences may vary widely across the board portal market. Aim to set up your organization for success by using board portal software that has a dedicated client support team. Choose a board portal provider that offers 24/7/365 global support, so that you have access to help when and where you need it. Also, consider whether a board portal provider has received industry recognition for customer service, such as awards from the Customer Service Institute of America (CSIA).
- Adoptability. Board portal adoption may present a learning curve, so it is important to be equipped with proper onboarding support and training. A board portal provider’s onboarding team can help configure software settings to your preferences, add users, create board and committee group spaces, apply custom branding, and provide ongoing education and training. Also, consider localization and language needs that the board portal provider’s onboarding team may have to accommodate.
- Reputation. Another important factor when selecting a board portal is reputation. Consider whether a provider’s team has expertise in corporate governance by evaluating its resources and solutions apart from board portal software. For example, look at its network of corporate governance professionals and thought leadership contributions that speak to the latest trends and regulations. Also consider the team’s years of corporate governance experience.
- ESG & Board Engagement. Beyond a board portal, consider what other corporate governance solutions a provider may offer, such as ESG reporting tools, board and management evaluations, directors’ and officers’ questionnaires, and compliance questionnaires. Choosing a provider with a comprehensive suite of corporate governance offerings may help streamline relationships and processes down the road.
What to Consider When Evaluating Board Portal Pricing Across Providers
When evaluating board portal pricing across providers, consider the depth of features, security, and customer service needed. A low board portal cost may be due to a lack robust of features and functionalities valued by boards, committees, and executive leadership teams. In addition, organizations that require multiple layers of security may be comfortable paying for more peace of mind.
Some board portal pricing models may be all-inclusive, while others may have a tiered pricing structure—costing your organization more money in the long run. Consider whether your organization is comfortable paying extra for features that may come standard through other board portal providers and how a variable subscription may impact the predictability of annual budgets.
Lastly, evaluate whether continued education, training, and onboarding are priorities at your organization for successfully implementing board portal software—because you don’t want to be hit with fees when you need help.
Nasdaq Boardvantage is a board portal designed to help meet the needs of boards, committees, and executive leadership teams. Whether looking to optimize meeting workflows, collaborate confidently knowing security features are in place, better align on strategic decision-making, or simply save time and costs, Nasdaq Governance Solutions’ board portal software can help. Nasdaq Boardvantage is trusted by thousands of public, private, and non-profit organizations worldwide.1 Clients have access to an award-winning 24/7/365 support team and a dedicated account specialist for comprehensive onboarding and ongoing training.2 Plus, Nasdaq Governance Solutions’ board portal pricing is all-inclusive. A skilled professional network and global footprint across industries helps ensure Nasdaq Boardvantage supports clients on their journey to governance excellence. Board engagement offerings, including board evaluations and directors’ and officers’ questionnaires, complement Nasdaq Boardvantage for a holistic approach to corporate governance.
 Nasdaq Governance Solutions serves over 4,000 organizations worldwide as of June 30, 2021.
 2021 Asia-Pacific Gold Stevie Award winner for Innovation in Customer Service Management, Planning & Practice; 2020 Silver Stevie Award winner for Sales & Customer Service; 2020 International Service Excellence Award winner in the “Division of a Large Business” category.