Board Portal Software: Definition, Benefits, Selection Guide, and Board Portal Comparison
Board portal could be a perfect solution for numerous tasks that board directors are facing before, during, and after the board meeting. All of those tasks were settled manually, but thanks to new technological developments, there is a solution that can simplify that process.
Definition of board portal
What is board portal software? Also known by several other names — such as “virtual boardroom“, “board of directors portal” and “board meeting portal” — a board portal is a virtual platform for planning and carrying out board management tasks.
Board software is a technological solution dedicated to efficient board or committee meetings. It aims to help in the organization of board meetings by offering a full suite of features for meeting and workflow optimization, board document management, data security, communication, and more.
As regards deployment, a board management app can be cloud-based, hosted in a remote data center, or hosted on-site in the user company’s premises. Some board meeting apps offer more than one hosting option.
A virtual board room can be available for desktop computers, for mobile devices, or for both.
Purpose of board portals
A virtual boardroom provides a user-friendly and secure environment where board members and managers can perform all board management tasks with confidence that sensitive board information will stay protected. Tasks that are carried out on a board portal space include:
- document storage
- planning and organizing board meetings
- sharing agendas, board books and board decks with meeting participants
- secure collaboration between board members on board meeting materials
- conducting and taking part in virtual board meetings
- polling and voting during meetings
- assigning tasks to board members and following up on them
- creating board meeting minutes
- generating board audit reports
Board portal providers
Here are top ten providers that we think you should consider.
- BoardMaps. This board portal provider will take care of every step of your board meeting, from planning, through execution, to the meeting minutes. They provide their services not only to corporations, but also to governments and nonprofit organizations. This means that the structure of those meetings needs to be on point, and BoardMaps helps in ensuring that. View Profile
- iDeals. When it comes to security during your board meetings, few providers can promise military-grade security, however, iDeals is one of them. Also, aside from being a virtual data room provider, they supply their users with solutions that update in real-time. Their user-friendly design and praise from Fortune 500 companies make their solution an outstanding example of a great board software. View Profile
- BoardEffect. If you are a nonprofit organization or a higher education institution, you should not overlook this provider. Although this company specializes in those areas, it can also provide you with the usual online board portal benefits — and it does so with an easy-to-use interface! View Profile
- Nasdaq Boardvantage. This board software is a fit for almost every organization. They cater to the needs of a wide public, making virtual boardroom meetings accessible for every industry. Their help desk has provided exceptional help to many of their clients. And the clients can also easily collaborate on uploaded documents. View Profile
- Diligent. On this provider’s website, we see that they provide a simple, paperless meeting software solution. Their easy-to-access interface not only allows you to attend your board meetings, but also rates meeting performance and recognizes market trends. Remote meetings are not a problem for this software provider. View Profile
- Boardable. One of the main distinguishing features of Boardable is that they cater to purpose-driven companies and non-profit organizations. They want to make board meetings engaging and simple wherever you are. It is a board of directors software solution that helps with in-person, hybrid, and fully remote board management. There are also loads of training videos on YouTube if you need help. View Profile
- Directors Desk by Nasdaq. This board of directors portal focuses more on simplification. The users of the Directors Desk experience streamlining of board books, secure document storage, and the ability to edit documents from within the solution. You are also able to create audits and a series of annotations. View Profile
- Govenda BoardBookit. BoardBookit created this boardroom software solution to help a variety of companies. Its customers range from the private to the public sectors and it’s no surprise that their expectations for a premium experience are fully met. Through a user-oriented approach and an unlimited user model, they provide a service that satisfies even the most demanding users. View Profile
- OnBoard. Onboard is one of the first intelligent board management software solutions. They have reconfigured and simplified processes that were more complicated in an earlier version. The company’s vision of using the software is always the most important element, so if the provider can streamline some of the processes, they will do just that. OnBoard is a great proposition for everyone on the board, from CTOs to Presidents. View Profile
- Aprio. This is an easy-to-use and competitively-priced board meeting software. If you ever experience problems using their solution, the 24/7 support team will gladly give you a helping hand. Governance over the board meetings is easier with this solution and it facilitates making decisions. View Profile
Industries that most use board portals
Corporate board management software is used by company boards across a broad range of industries, from small organizations, through medium sized enterprises, to large enterprises and global companies.
Boards and committees in public management organizations (governments and nonprofit organizations) also use corporate board portals, but besides those there are dedicated board portals for nonprofits, which are designed specifically to answer the needs of governments and non profits.
Companies and organizations that use board management software most often belong to one of the following industries:
- financial services (banking, investment management, credit union organizations)
- real estate
- education management (higher education and research)
- chemicals and biotechnology
- hospital and community healthcare
- public management (government and non-profit organization management)
- law (legal departments, legal and paralegal services, legal entity management)
Who uses board portals?
Board management software is used by people who hold different functions and belong to different departments within a company or organization. Typically, users of a board management portal will be:
Users of secure board software
Board members. Corporate board members — who are usually company executives and external stakeholders — use board management software to view and collaborate on board documents; find other members in the board member directory and communicate with them; take part in online board meetings; sign documents, and vote on proposals and polls; keep track of tasks assigned to them; and store confidential documents.
Board secretaries. A board secretary uses board management software to store and manage board documents; communicate with board directors and members; create agendas; plan and schedule meetings; assign tasks to board members; create board meeting minutes; and generate board activity and performance reports.
The entire meeting process takes place inside the board meeting app, from initially scheduling meetings to post-meeting task management and reporting.
Committee members. As board members responsible for gathering information and presenting proposals on specific issues, committee members use the collaboration tools available on board management software to save time and effort on document sharing and team collaboration.
Specialists. Sometimes specialists from different departments within a company are also given access to the board portal, so they can upload relevant documents, and share their opinion on technical issues with the board of directors ahead of upcoming meetings.
Common positions of board portal users
- company presidents
- company secretaries and assistant company secretaries
- executive assistants
- board relations managers
- board directors and assistant directors
- audit officers
- PAs to directors and CEOs
- governance leaders and governance officers
- buyers and other stakeholders
How to select board management software
Using board portal software can significantly improve your board management in general, and meeting management in particular. However, to ensure those positive results, you must take care to choose the best board management software for your company.
Also, keep in mind that implementing the use of new board meeting software requires a lot of resources. Not financial resources — although a virtual boardroom can be quite pricey — but time and effort, as there can be a large number of employees involved, and most people need time to get used to new software.
This is why it’s important you choose user friendly software — it will reduce the stress and time spent by users getting acquainted with it.
So, if you want to be sure to choose the board management software that will give you the most effective board management tools for your investment in money, time and effort, here are a few important things you need to focus on.
Important steps for choosing board meeting software
1. Who will use your boardroom software?
You know what is your main group of board software users — they’re members of your board of directors. But there are also other stakeholders — such as audit officers, and people involved in meeting management such as PAs to directors and CEOs. Ask people from each user group two things:
- What key features do they need in a board portal?
- What kind of training do they need to start using board management software?
2. What does your company need from a board portal?
Once you have answers from several different groups of users, define what are the key features that your board meeting software must absolutely have.
3. What’s your budget for board management software?
Board portal prices vary a lot from vendor to vendor, so it’s better to be sure about your budget. This will also help you rule out some vendors, which simplifies the comparison between different board management software which you will make in the next stage.
4. What do other users say about board management solutions?
Now you know what your needs are, and how much you can pay, find the intersection, and shortlist the vendors and board portals that are in both categories.
Then, check out what customers say about their services. You can do so by going on independent websites for board meeting software reviews, and reading as many reviews as you can for each shortlisted provider.
5. What are the training and support options?
Once you have ruled out any vendors that have too many problematic reviews, you will be left with a shorter list of really good options for board management software. Now, go back to what your prospective users said about their training needs, and check what board portal vendors can cater to those.
Also, remember to check what support options each vendor offers. Even the best board meeting software can have glitches during board meetings, and it’s important you are able to get any issues solved within minutes. So, get answers for these questions:
- Does the vendor offer email support only, or does your plan include phone support?
- Do they offer support in your language?
- If they are in another time zone, can you reach out to them during all business hours in your country?
- If you also conduct board meetings on weekends, is support available then as well?
6. Can you start a free trial?
Lastly, check which providers offer a free trial of their board management software. You don’t want to commit to a product you haven’t been able to try, so we recommend you rule out any vendors who do not offer at least a few days’ free trial.
After following all these steps, you should have a short list of the best board management software available for your company. We suggest you sign up for a free trial of more than one, and explore them. If possible, ask other board members to test it as well, and give you their views.
Board portal comparison criteria
When you draw your board portal software comparison table, here are the main criteria you should use:
- features with positive impact on ROI
- ratings from review platforms
Let’s look at each in turn.
You should clearly understand what specific features of board management software will result in ROI improvement for your company. These are all the features that will allow users to perform board governance and document management processes more efficiently, thus saving time, effort or funds.
Include these features in your board of directors software comparison table, so you can see at a glance what solutions offer the greater ROI.
Authoritative reviews are an important comparison criterion, as they give you a realistic idea of what your experience is likely to be with a specific board management software solution. So make sure to include reviews rating in your comparison table.
To do this, you can go the easy way and just include the number of stars each software was given. However, star ratings can be pretty much the same for different virtual boardroom software, so if you want to do one better, filter reviews and consider only those written by customers from a similar area to yours.
This one is quite straightforward — all other things being equal, you will want to choose the board management software that costs the least. So price must be one of the criteria in your comparison table.
Board management software pricing
In case you are wondering what determines the differences in price between the various board management software solutions out there, here are the main factors that impact board software pricing.
Deployment mode. Board management software can be cloud-based, stored in an external server, or hosted on-premise, at the client company’s premises.
Payment type. You can choose different plans for board management software: single payment, monthly payment, or annual payment. Most board portal vendors give discounts of up to 25% to clients signing up for an annual instead of monthly plan.
Subscription type. Some board management software vendors charge per user, others per feature.
Number of users. If your board has many members and you have subscribed to a per-user plan, your costs for using board management software will be higher than if you needed only a few user permissions.
Features available. If yours is a per-feature plan, it’s only logical that a feature-rich board portal will cost you more than board management software that offers only basic features.
Other factors. Besides all of the above, there’s another key factor that impacts the price of board management software. That factor is security. Board portal software that ensures higher security levels for your board management system is bound to be more costly, since it requires more complex architecture, and constant maintenance.
However, that extra cost is abundantly compensated by the tranquility that you and the members of your board will have when sharing confidential data through board meetings and document sharing. If there’s any board information you would not like to be shared outside of your board, it’s safer to avoid free board portals and invest in a paid-for solution that ensures full data security.
The main benefits of board management software
Boards in both corporate and nonprofit organizations can benefit greatly from moving their entire workflow online. Here are the most common benefits from using board management software to perform various task groups:
Comprehensive board meeting management
During the phase of board meeting preparation, board secretaries can check board member calendars and propose meeting dates with a few clicks.
Board members can with equal ease show which proposed dates suit them. Board secretaries will then use board meeting agenda software to create meeting agendas, and easily include or delete agenda items. The agenda builder feature can also be used by board members to propose or comment on items they would like to discuss at the next board meeting.
By using the board meeting management solution, board directors and members can conduct remote meetings, which allow the board to work together even when they cannot all meet in person.
E-signature features allow board members to save time by easily signing documents, while the polls and voting tools allow them to vote on proposals even during the meeting. Task management tools help the board director and members follow up on board tasks.
Board management software also allows board secretaries to easily create meeting minutes from the recording of an online board meeting.
Convenient board document management
Board portal software includes virtual data rooms, where board members and secretaries can securely store and share documents. These could be meeting agendas, board packs, reports, research results, or indeed any other kind of board materials.
Document management tools include user-friendly collaboration tools that allow board members to work together on documents, editing and commenting publicly or in private. This saves them time, allowing them to prepare in advance for the next board meeting.
Video conferencing integration
With video conferencing integration, board management software makes it possible for remote board meetings to be conducted without attendees needing to leave the platform. This simplifies board meeting management, eliminating the need for attendees to switch from one platform to another. It also ensures full security for any confidential information shared during the meeting.
The possibility to view and work on board materials from other places makes it much easier for busy board members to take an interest and play an active part in the board. Being able to attend board meetings from anywhere and at any time increases the number of attendees at each meeting, and this in turn furthers commitment and improves board governance.
Different levels of access management
Board portal users have different access levels, depending on their positions in the board. Secretaries and directors are usually admin users, who can grant or revoke permissions to other users. This ensures they keep full control over the information shared within the board portal.
High level of security
Board management software ensures security for confidential board info through key features such as data encryption in transit and at rest, two factor authentication, and various security features for document sharing, such as:
- redaction tools
- granular user permissions
- remote shredding
- customizable watermarking