When purchasing this essential technology, both directors and staff should contribute to the list of essentials.
The board shouldn’t be “in the weeds” of analyzing possible board portal products. But the board can help management with product selection by setting out its vision and needs for what it would like a board portal to do for them. Executives and the board liaison also play an important role.
When selecting a board portal, the main focus should be on identifying the desired business outcome or goal, says Cris Carpluk, VP/customer engagement at OnBoard, a CUES Supplier member based in Indianapolis.
“Is the credit union’s board looking for a solution that increases security for the board? Are time-savings the most important goal? Does the board, its directors or support staff need a board solution that can optimize all board and committee processes, including D&O (directors and officers) questionnaires, voting and loan approvals, and board assessments? It’s important to document these goals first.
“A strong business case for a board portal will answer the questions and requirements not only from the board itself, including its officers, directors, committee members and support staff, but also specific organizational concerns such as the overall costs from the CFO, cybersecurity concerns from IT or the IT security team, and regulatory compliance factors from the general counsel or legal team,” she observes.
“The benefit most boards we work with cite the most frequently is the reduction of time, effort and complexity in preparing, executing and documenting board meetings and their outcomes,” Carpluk continues. “When you remove all the administrative complexity for board meetings, directors and executives have more capacity to focus on achieving their credit union’s mission.”
Dottie Schindlinger agrees that it’s important to choose a board portal that aligns with what the board hopes to accomplish.
“For instance, is a this the year for strategic planning?” says Schindlinger, executive director of the Diligent Institute, the corporate governance research arm of Diligent Corp., New York, parent company of the BoardEffect and BoardDocs portals. “Then you’ll want to select a system that supports the strategic planning process and gives you the ability to look at dashboards and do real-time data analysis. Is the problem you want to solve that you want to have a more robust presence for your risk and audit team in the boardroom? Then look for a system that has strong risk and audit components. Have a conversation with the board chair, the governance chair, and the head of the audit and risk committee to determine what should be on your wish list.”
Once that wish list is established, Schindlinger notes that the full board doesn’t need to participate in identifying the portal that best meets those needs. “I would involve the board in that goal-setting, and then it’s really up to the CEO and the board liaison’s office to do the shopping.”
However, it is appropriate to call upon other executives to participate in the board portal search. “You may want to involve your head of IT security in the venture, since they’ll be able to ask good questions about data privacy, encryption and cybersecurity,” Schindlinger says. “And it would be a good idea to check in with your general counsel to see if there are concerns regarding who owns the data in the licensing agreement. You can make it a team event, with different voices offering their input. But at the end of the day, it’s usually up to the CEO to make the final decision about the right system, and usually the liaison’s office coordinates the process to get the portal implemented and everybody trained.”
Based in Missouri, Diane Franklin is a longtime contributor to Credit Union Management magazine.