You’ve finally decided that it’s time to move your organization into the paperless age – not just because board binders are heavy, cumbersome, and inefficient, but because you’ve heard that board portal software is the most secure way of distributing information. That much is true: other digital distribution methods such as email, Dropbox, and Google Docs are simply not secure enough to guarantee the confidentiality of highly sensitive materials. They may simply not meet the organization’s own bylaw requirements for security, either. The issue you have to face now is choosing which one to use.
There are many different board portals available today, and that can make it challenging to determine which one is the best suited for your organization. According to Gartner, an IT advisory firm, most products on offer today are remarkably similar in terms of the features they offer. While they all offer better security, improved efficiency, and a suite of tools that make board meetings easier, they primarily differ on pricing, customer service, and their performance history with organizations similar to your own. Here are the ten criteria on which you should be basing your decision for purchasing advanced board of directors management software.
Collaboration— Does it come equipped with tools that make it easier to collaborate, such as annotation tools and email notifications that keep everyone informed when changes are made? Is the user interface easy to use and does it promote working through the portal?
Management— Not only will a successful board make it easier for directors to use, it will also make creating the binder, scheduling the meeting, and distributing information easier than ever.
Security –— All documents should be accessible only through the portal, not through email. Email notifications should direct users into the portal via a link and require further password access. This is just one of many security features you should look for.
Affordability – Non-profits and government bodies may not have the kind of budgets that Fortune 500 companies do, but their security and functionality needs are no different. There are some very large price gaps between products, so make sure you get a product that’s worth what you pay.
Ease of Adoption— Unless you can get your directors to use the software, it will offer few benefits in terms of efficiency. One way to get tech-skeptical members on board is to make sure they can use it confidently and securely. In order to do that, some vendors like Aprio offer advantages like one-on-one training sessions with all of your members and post webinars that explain in detail how to make the most of the new features released with updates.
Mobility – Is it restricted to laptop use, or is it available on smartphones and tablets? Does it work on all major smartphone and tablet operating systems, including Windows, Apple, and Android?
Support – Companies that offer white glove support such as Aprio have made it easier for organizations to ensure buy-in when they bring in this new technology. Directors can contact real people 24/7, any day of the year, making their support conveniently available in any time zone.
Reputation – Get references and find out which industries the vendor has had a lot of success servicing.
Technology – One thing you don’t want to do is to invest in a platform that won’t keep up with changing standards in governance. During a demo, ask about future updates and how much vendors take into consideration their present customers’ input.
Do Your Organizations Fit Together? – Throughout the demo, the assessment process, and the marketing, you will meet a vendor’s team, including support staff. Just as a company would when it’s hiring a new manager, make sure they’re a cultural fit.