When most people think of boards of directors, they envision a group of corporate board directors in expensive suits, circling a large conference room table. However, not all organizations are vested in making the largest profits on Wall Street. In addition to corporate boards, there are nonprofit boards, boards of private companies, boards of colleges and universities, and government boards. Government boards are designed to perform specific duties for various local, state and federal agencies.
Government boards must work collaboratively to fulfill their appointed duties. They are responsible to the governmental body that appointed them for their actions. Ultimately, as public service employees or volunteers, they are accountable to the taxpayers of the nation, state or local community.
Board directors of all kinds, including government boards, are not traveling as much these days. They no longer need to incur the time and expense of traveling because technology allows them to connect in other ways. Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are gradually taking the place of in-person meetings as a means of saving public tax dollars that could be better used for other purposes. However, phone and video meetings are also becoming outdated due to the popularity of electronic board portals.
Regardless of the meeting format, security must remain a top priority for government boards, due to the sensitive nature of information, the integrity of the body, and the accountability to the public that they serve.
Electronic Board Portals Save Taxpayers Money
One of the primary benefits that contribute to the popularity of board portals is how much money they save boards and organizations. Board portals save board secretaries many hours of preparing board books. Government bodies and agencies also save thousands of dollars in reams of paper, printer ink, board books, paper clips, staples and other office supply materials.
Travel costs can become very expensive for board members when you factor in costs for gas, transportation, hotels, meals, time away from full-time work and other expenses. Consider the travel costs associated with distances that government board members must travel across larger states like Texas and Alaska. Other states, like Illinois, have large populations of government board directors in large cities like Chicago and many other government board directors in the state capitol of Springfield, which is located many hours away in the center of the state. These are a few examples of how using board portals can be cost-effective and financially efficient, which are important issues for politicians and taxpayers.
Board Portals Offer Security for Sensitive Government Work
Government boards are no strangers to public scandals. The work that they do is very important and is often sensitive or confidential in nature. Governments require board directors to uphold certain standards of ethics and integrity because of their responsibilities to the people they serve.
Paper board books come with the inherent risk of papers becoming loose and getting stolen or lost. IT developers work hard to design programs for board portals that have the most sophisticated security systems possible to prevent hackers from accessing confidential or sensitive information.
For example, board portals allow board directors to access local copies, and then wipe them clean after a specified period of time. Even if an electronic tablet were to get into the wrong hands, the perpetrator would not be able to access confidential information.
Board Portals Offer Portability and Ease of Use
Taxpayers expect that their government representatives will operate as efficiently as possible. Board portal apps designed for laptops, tablets and cell phones make it easy for board directors to conduct board business on-the-go.
Ease of use equates to saving time. Saving time generally equates to increased productivity when board directors can focus on the most important aspects of board business.
Board portals are exceptionally helpful for board chairs and board secretaries, as board portals save them many hours of work preparing for board meetings. Board books often contain hundreds of pages of documents and reports. Electronic board books make it easy to find them with an electronic table of contents, numbered pages and labeled files. Some board portals allow hyperlinks inside the documents for even greater ease of use.
IT developers are increasingly enhancing their applications to make them as full-featured and user-friendly as possible. With a little training, everyone can learn to use a board portal with ease. Many board portal software programs come with 24/7 customer service so that board members can conduct board business any time of day or night.
The higher-quality board portals help government board directors by offering them a robust offering of features. Electronic board books have the capability to store and archive many types of documents, such as:
- Committee charters
- Committee reports
- Corporate governance guidelines
- White papers
- Legislative updates
- Analyst reports
- Meeting minutes
- Meeting agendas
Board portal software makes it easy for board directors to present and review information across the miles without worry about scratchy or malfunctioning videoconferencing or teleconferencing equipment.
Some board portals allow users to upload and download documents in various formats. Pdf documents make it easy for government board directors to mark up, highlight, strike through or annotate documents, which directors can then share with others. This is helpful to enable directors to edit and upload bylaws, meeting minutes and policies. Advanced board portals give board directors the capability to automatically send documents to other directors for rounds of approvals using automatic notifications.
Not all board directors need to see all documents. User restriction is a valuable feature that lets board portal administrators set restrictions for certain types of information or limits certain users from accessing sections of the board portal that they don't need to access.
Some Final Thoughts About Using Electronic Board Portals for Government Boards
Some government boards may be hesitant to move to electronic board portals because of the expense. In fact, switching to a board portal should cost government bodies much less in the long run.
Security is always a big issue in any kind of government work, and board work is no exception. Many government boards are still using work email accounts to deliver board books, which is a much greater risk than using a board portal with amped-up security measures.
Government boards should always consult with IT departments before making a final decision on which board portal product works best for their organization. Government board directors typically like using board portals better than doing things manually once they get the hang of it. The latest apps are becoming more and more user-friendly, which helps substantially. A board portal is an all-in-one tool that serves its purpose anywhere and anytime. Everyone likes that, especially members of government boards.