7 Essential Questions to Ask When Choosing Board Meeting Management
The demand for efficient and secure board meeting management software is more apparent in the digital age than ever. But navigating the landscape of software options to find the right fit for your organization is not just a matter of cost and features. It requires a thorough understanding of your organization's unique needs and a keen eye for the critical factors influencing a software's effectiveness.
In this blog post, we'll guide you through seven essential questions to ask when choosing board meeting management software. This will help you make an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your board's operational needs.
1. What type of board portal is right for my organization?
Adopting board portal technologies is no longer exclusive to large public corporations. Today, organizations of all sizes across various sectors and industries are leveraging board portals to streamline their governance activities, ensure compliance, and enhance security.
However, it's vital to consider your board's structure, size and needs before making a decision. Larger providers might offer complex features your board doesn't need, while more affordable options might lack some functionalities. Therefore, evaluate if your priorities align with the core benefits of a board portal, such as efficiency, security, compliance, and modern digital governance.
Understanding the different types of board portals available is important in determining the right fit for your organization. There are three primary types of board portals: Vendor-hosted, In-house, and Hybrid solutions.
- Software as a Service (SaaS) is hosted on the public cloud and accessed online. These solutions are popular because they often require less technical expertise, offer robust security features, and are scalable to your organization's needs.
- In-house solutions are developed and maintained by your organization's internal IT team. While this type of portal offers the most control over the software, it also demands significant time and resources to build, maintain, and secure.
- Hybrid solutions offer a mix of the two, often providing a vendor-developed software platform maintained in-house or in a private cloud.
2. Is the implementation of the board portal challenging?
The complexity of implementing a board portal largely depends on the type of solution you choose (see question 1.) With the most popular SaaS (Software as a Service) board portals, the implementation process is usually straightforward and far less laborious than traditional, on-premise solutions.
SaaS solutions are designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, requiring minimal setup. These platforms are hosted on the cloud, eliminating the need for extensive hardware installations or complex IT projects. Instead, your board portal is accessible online, anytime and anywhere, with just a few clicks.
Moreover, reputable SaaS providers typically offer a comprehensive onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition. This can include tailored training sessions, step-by-step guides, and dedicated support teams ready to assist you.
However, it's still important to plan for this transition. Consider factors such as migrating existing data into the new system and coordinating training for your board members to familiarize them with the platform.
Remember, implementing a board portal aims to streamline and enhance your board's operations. A good SaaS provider will make this process as seamless and efficient as possible, mitigating any potential stress or disruptions to your board's activities.
3. How does the board portal safeguard my information?
Privacy and security are paramount when choosing board meeting management software. Many providers leverage cloud solutions like Microsoft Azure for enhanced security and scalability. Azure's global network of data centers provides advanced encryption, in-built disaster recovery, and robust security features such as role-based access control.
However, the specifics of a provider's hosting environment matter. Whether it's a public cloud like Azure, Amazon AWS, or a private one, the provider must demonstrate robust security measures and compliance standards adherence.
In summary, ensure your comfort with the provider's hosting environment and data protection policies. The security of your board's data should always be non-negotiable.
4. Will subscription costs increase as we scale?
A critical aspect to consider when choosing a board portal provider is the potential for costs to increase as your organization grows. Understanding how the pricing structure works is fundamental to making a well-informed choice. Pricing transparency is a crucial attribute of a reliable software provider. You should understand clearly what you're paying for, and there should be no hidden or unexpected costs. Understand what's included in the base price and what additional services or features might incur extra costs.
A common area where costs can increase unexpectedly is storage. As your organization grows and more data is produced, storage requirements will likely increase. Some vendors may not be upfront about how storage costs will increase over time, so it's crucial to clarify this before committing.
Remember, while some vendors offer extra features if you didn't initially request them, you won't likely use them. It's vital to strike a balance between the features you need and the solution's cost-effectiveness.
In summary, understanding and anticipating the potential changes in costs as your organization scales can help you plan your budget effectively and ensure that the board portal will continue to deliver value as your needs evolve. Remember, your focus should always be on securing a solution that offers your organization the best return on investment.
5. What happens to your data if you cancel?
When contemplating terminating a contract with a board meeting management software provider, it's essential to consider the immediate and long-term implications. Mainly, understanding what happens to your data post-cancellation is critical.
Firstly, confirming whether you can retrieve all your data upon cancellation is vital. A reputable provider should offer a data extraction process that is seamless and comprehensive, ensuring you have access to all your information when transitioning away from their service.
Secondly, the safety and security of your data post-cancellation is another significant consideration. Ideally, the provider should outline the measures they take to ensure data security after the termination of services. Depending on your organization's preferences and legal requirements, this might involve data encryption or completely removing your data from their servers.
Moreover, it's worth asking about the timeline for these processes: How quickly can you retrieve your data? How long will the provider continue to secure your data post-cancellation?
These inquiries aim to safeguard your organization's sensitive information during a potentially vulnerable transition period. The provider's approach to these matters can reveal much about their professionalism and commitment to client service, even when the client relationship ends.
6. Is the board portal highly rated by its existing users?
Evaluating current clients' experiences is a powerful way to assess a board portal's effectiveness and the quality of its service. User testimonials and case studies, typically available on the provider's website, can give you a firsthand account of their strengths, responsiveness, and areas where they excel.
Take note of their client roster. If well-known or reputable organizations use their services, this can indicate reliability and trustworthiness. Additionally, listen to feedback from these existing clients, especially those who share similar needs or are in the same industry as your organization. Their experiences can be particularly relevant and insightful.
Furthermore, consider checking online software reviews platforms such as G2.com and Capterra. These sites gather user reviews and ratings on various aspects of the software, including usability, customer support, and overall satisfaction. They can offer a more comprehensive and balanced view of the software, helping you understand its real-world performance.
Remember, while each board may have unique requirements, hearing positive experiences from existing users can instill confidence in the board portal's capability to meet your needs effectively.
7. Does the board portal have the capability to integrate with our existing work environment seamlessly?
The ideal board management software should effortlessly integrate with your organization's work processes. Such software's primary role is to simplify tasks, save valuable time, and promote greater efficiency within your board's operations. It shouldn't introduce unnecessary complications or become a source of new problems.
One crucial factor to consider is the software's complexity. If the board portal is too intricate or feature-heavy, it may end up being underutilized, and you could find yourself paying for unused features. A well-designed board portal should be user-friendly and intuitive, requiring minimal technical knowledge to operate. It should also offer a seamless user experience across various devices, including tablets, smartphones, and computers.
Moreover, the software should be compatible with your organization's commonly used tools and systems. For instance, if your organization heavily relies on Microsoft products, a board portal that integrates well with Microsoft's suite of tools could be beneficial.
To ensure this, always request a demo of the software. This allows you to evaluate its usability, see how it integrates with tools like Microsoft Teams, and understand the extent of training that might be required for your team.
Furthermore, engage in a dialogue with various stakeholders in your organization, such as the IT team, potential users, and board members. Understand what features they deem essential and ensure the software adequately addresses these requirements. The chosen solution should cater to the diverse needs of all users within your organization and not just a select few.
Remember that adopting a board portal aims to enhance productivity and streamline board management processes, including the entire governance process. Any solution that aligns with this goal fits seamlessly into your existing work environment, offers competitive pricing, and provides room for scalability as your organization grows, could be a potential fit.
Making the right choice in board meeting management software is a significant decision that will greatly impact your organization's governance structure. These seven questions are designed to guide you in thoroughly evaluating potential providers from multiple perspectives, ensuring that your choice best aligns with your board's unique needs and objectives.
Remember that the right questions matter; understanding the finer details can make all the difference. As you delve into your search and assessment, don't hesitate to ask these questions to potential providers. By doing so, you'll be well-positioned to make a decision that truly enhances your organization's board operations. And remember, we're here to help if you need further advice or insights into making this critical choice for your organization.
Here below is a list of the key points to consider:
|Question||Key Points to Consider|
What type of board portal is right for my organization?
Board structure, size, needs, type of board portal (Vendor-hosted, In-house, Hybrid), strategic governance goals
Is the implementation of the board portal challenging?
|Type of solution, SaaS benefits, comprehensive onboarding process, data migration, training needs, disruption to board activities|
How does the board portal safeguard my information?
Provider's hosting environment (public clouds like Azure, Amazon AWS, or private one), data protection policies, security measures, and compliance standards adherence
Will subscription costs increase as we scale?
The pricing structure, transparency, base price, additional services/features cost, storage costs, cost-effectiveness, scalability
What happens to your data if you cancel?
Data retrieval post-cancellation, data security measures post-cancellation, the data extraction process, a timeline for retrieval and security
Is the board portal highly rated by its existing users?
User testimonials, case studies, client roster, feedback from similar organizations, online software reviews
Does the board portal have the capability to integrate with our existing work environment seamlessly?
Software complexity, user-friendliness, device compatibility, integration with existing tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams), demo, stakeholder input, scalability, pricing