Corporate boards know how important digital technology is to their companies.
But they’re struggling to start conversations around digitally transforming their boards.
A recent Deloitte study found only 32% of corporate board conversations about technology dealt with technology-enabled digital transformation, a critical component of modernizing board operations.
And yet, busy board members stand to gain a lot from digital transformation. This is especially true for the board meeting itself. It can be a powerful time when company leaders drive strategy and plan for the future. And an efficient meeting is the best way to drive meeting effectiveness.
Many processes supporting board meetings, however, are still based on paper products. Digital products and specialized board engagement software can help you prepare board meetings. If you want your board members to have successful conversations during board meetings, consider how digitized processes can make board meetings better and faster.
Digitize the board book
The printed board book has been a mainstay of corporate boards. But thanks to paper, they’re fraught with pitfalls that bog down board meetings. Your staff needs to handle printing and delivery, which can take days or weeks to complete. Board members end up with outdated information in their book.
Reports go unread before critical decision-making points. Your meetings become a game of playing catch-up rather than thinking about strategy and using board members’ time well.
To save time and paper, you can digitize your board book by developing electronic documents for board members to use. Board members can get data and reports ahead of time to review at their convenience. You can then use board meetings to focus on discussion and planning rather than reading back reports. Board members who still prefer paper can get PDFs copies and print them. You can cut down on paper and save your time printing books.
More importantly, you can get board members engaged on key issues before and during board meetings.
Build effective agendas for the Board of Directors
Like the board book, digitized agendas help board members adequately prepare for meetings. Board members wanting to drive digital transformation want to use agendas to lead those conversations. A 2019 Corporate Board Member and Ernst & Young LLP survey found 38% of board directors surveyed believed disruption and innovation should be included in full board agendas to mitigate risks.
Effective meetings need effective agendas. Digital agendas let you prepare everything ahead of time and get board members involved before meetings. Even though you’re not sending a digital agenda in the mail, be sure you send it at least a week before the meeting. Your board members need time to review the document and prepare their thoughts.
Agendas should also provide enough information to direct a meeting’s progress but not so much that board members drown in it. Assign board members to lead various items on the agenda to keep everyone engaged. Set a time limit for each item and stick to it to keep meetings running smoothly and to get tasks done on time.
Unify recordkeeping with digital tools
Paper records may be helpful to keep as backups, but they aren’t the easiest to search through and catalog. If board members have to consult paper records to stay on track with their tasks, it reduces their efficiency.
Digital recordkeeping can simplify task management for board members. Smaller boards might find a Google Drive folder tree sufficient to store and catalog information. But if you find your board using 15 tools to track and store everything, then you likely need a more comprehensive and effective solution. A unified solution can hold onto records and create space for board members to collaborate on tasks.
A board undergoing digital transformation will have a lot of tasks to complete outside of board meetings. Dedicated board committees should meet outside of board meetings to vet new ideas and bring thoughts to the next meeting. Your board engagement software should provide tools committees can use to share their work ahead of time. Other board members can see a committee’s progress and share their own thoughts.
Board meetings stand to gain a lot from new digital tools to simplify and improve meetings. Digital board books, agendas and storage move boards away from paper to improve their efficiency. Board members can come to meetings feeling prepared and ready to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to your company.