The Risks of Free Board Management Software

Nicholas J Price
The use of board portals is growing at a swift rate. Daedal Research forecasts that 67.7% of companies will be using board portals by the year 2020, which is up from 34.5% in 2015. This percentage equates to about a third of companies globally that will be using board portals. Companies that don't make the switch will lag behind in technology, which could cause them to lose their competitive edge.

Board portal technology allows private and public companies of all sizes to send out their board books electronically so that board directors can receive them on their laptops, tablets and smartphones. Innovations in board portal technology have brought many new service providers to the industry. Not surprisingly, the growth of board portal software companies is starting to divide the quality contenders from the companies that merely dabbled in the market or added the software as a temporary side market.

Also not surprising is that with product maturity comes corporate consolidations, as the weaker competitors have difficulty keeping pace with the market leaders. The growth in the market is creating a deep divide between free board management software providers and industry leaders like Diligent Corporation.

There are many things that differentiate board portals, including custom features, strength of security, customer service, reputation and cost. As the strongest brands strive for the top, companies should consider their future needs, as well as their current ones.

Is Board Management Software Really Necessary?

The time for boards to get by without enlisting the help of a board portal are quickly coming to an end. Board portal technology is advancing quickly to help meet the increasing regulatory demands. As board portals start to become the norm, all companies will feel the pressure to conform. More importantly, regulators are highly concerned with cybersecurity. Quality board portal providers like Diligent continue to enhance their security measures to stay a step ahead of the hackers. Built-in security decreases the need for boards to invest in major IT security initiatives.

Choosing Between Free and Paid Board Management Software

In the early stages of board portals, some boards took advantage of free board portal software, only to find that the product didn't meet all of their needs. As board portal companies consolidated with others, some companies were forced to switch their service providers.

Other companies set their sights on the leading board portal service providers, so they could be the first to take advantage of the latest features and innovations as well as the strongest security measures. Companies that opted for high-end board portal service providers tend to be tech-savvy companies with healthy budgets for IT initiatives. They're companies that are familiar with the opportunities and risks that new technology brings with it. Such companies eagerly await the announcement of new features and functionalities.

While budgeting is always a concern, it's prudent to make a wise decision about purchasing board management software. Switching providers can be costly. Boards must also consider what happens to their data if they change service providers.

Ultimately, it pays to research the best board portal companies and get the decision right the first time.

Challenges in Making Board Portal Provider Decisions

Making the best purchasing decision of all the board portal providers available can be daunting for boards because it falls outside their area of expertise. Corporate secretaries don't always get clear guidelines from the board, causing them to act on their own limited knowledge or the knowledge of the board portal provider's salesperson.

Unfortunately, salespeople don't always ask to speak to a company's IT, procurement, internal risk or audit departments to fully understand a corporation's needs.

A free board portal is only good if board members use it. Since the board didn't make a financial investment in it, some board members may decide that it's easier to keep doing things as they always have. Older board members who have little experience with technology may be resistant to change. When the board makes a financial investment in digital tools, boards are motivated to make use of them.

Most board portal providers developed a stand-alone board portal. That's what separates Diligent from other board portal providers. Diligent designed a top-of-the-line board portal and created a suite of digital governance tools called Governance Cloud that fully integrate with the board portal. The design allows all board directors to complete all board tasks within the safety and security of the portal without fear of being infected or hacked by third-party applications.

In selecting the most effective board portal, boards should consider their digital board needs, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, features and the return on their investment. While it's impressive to read down a long list of features, it's vital that board portal software provides boards with efficiency, accuracy and mobility, and saves them money, too.

Security and Support Are Standout Features in Board Management Software Systems

Diligent's board portal and the other products that are part of the Governance Cloud ecosystem are supported by secure services and a world-class infrastructure that Diligent owns and operates, so boards have the assurance that their board work remains confidential and safe from hackers at all times. Diligent's software solutions are ISO- and TRUSTe-certified and internationally audited. Security measures include robust customizable encryption and data access. The remote wiping feature protects board members whenever a mobile device gets lost, stolen or compromised.

In addition to having the strongest security enhancements possible, Diligent provides award-winning customer service for training and support around the clock, every day of the year.

Diligent Corporation stands out as an industry leader in board governance management software. As the board portal provider of choice, Diligent aims to remain a top contender by investing in research and innovation so it can be the first to create the digital tools that corporate boards value most.

Diligent is a trusted global leader that fully integrates board governance solutions for total enterprise risk management. Diligent remains committed to the strongest security and the greatest customer service in the field.

The risks of testing out free board portal products aren't worth the cost. Companies that use free software risk not having the best in efficiency and service availability. Cybersecurity will only become more important as time goes on. Providers of free board portals can't possibly provide the security measures that today's boards need. When it comes to choosing a board portal service provider, boards should start with companies that have a strong reputation and credibility within the industry. Governance Cloud by Diligent is the hands-down top choice.
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Nicholas J. Price
Nicholas J. Price is a former Manager at Diligent. He has worked extensively in the governance space, particularly on the key governance technologies that can support leadership with the visibility, data and operating capabilities for more effective decision-making.