Robyn Pearce’s Opinion:
Boards of small to medium enterprise and non-profits have been missing out on this board software.
Originally published in the NZ Herald, Wednesday, 07 December 2016
When anyone talks about services that save people time and money, my ears prick up. So when I met Brett Herkt of BoardPro recently, I was most interested to hear about the software he and his company have designed. It's a cloud-based governance tool for small, medium and non-profit boards and fills a big gap in the market.
Brett explained that boards of small to medium enterprise and non-profits have been missing out on board software.
It's a different story for the big end of town. It's the norm for corporate boards to manage their board documents in an online portal.
Over the past 20 years, the market has delivered for large entities - there's more than a hundred providers of software available to 30,000 corporate boards around the world.
Unfortunately, corporate board portals fail the test for smaller organisations, because:
- Portal pricing is prohibitive - typically starting at $1,000 per month with ratchets for every additional user.
- They're not designed for the needs of smaller organisations who typically:
- Lack dedicated and experienced company secretarial resource
- Use time-poor executives to manage the board process
- Lack governance know-how and resources
Barry Baker, a partner at Grant Thornton, put it succinctly: 'Board agendas, documents and notes are a nightmare, using the typical combination of emailed docs and a drop box'.
Enter BoardPro, at a much more affordable price - less than $100 per month with unlimited users, no bill-shock and accessible on any device. Here's the experience of one user:
Tony Coombe is a C-suite executive who consults to a 100-year old agricultural business operating in Australia and New Zealand. One of his tasks is to improve their governance processes and take their board papers into the cloud.
After a free trial of BoardPro's software, Tony called to place the order and said 'Brett, you really need to put more emphasis on the savings. I reckon we've cut our back-office administration in half.'
1. Management Savings
In the past, Tony would act as the custodian of the board pack. He'd notify managers of the reporting deadline and wait. Individual managers would produce their board papers and email them to Tony for review. Requests for changes would flow back and forth. Tony would sweat on completion, asking himself: 'Do I have the final version from everyone?' and 'Whose paper is missing altogether?'
Now, Tony emails out the reporting deadline and asks the team to upload their reports directly into BoardPro's cloud software. Ownership is transferred to the individual managers and Tony has shifted from custodian and bottleneck to mentor.
Managers load their own papers directly. They can see the context for their papers and load them into the appropriate agenda section. Managers now call Tony for advice if there's something needing particular attention. They can both log in and discuss the latest version of that paper if they're in different physical locations.
Changes can be made quickly and easily in the live online portal right up to the reporting deadline. And if someone does reports late, the rest of the pack is still available to the board and responsibility falls where it's due.
2. Secretarial Savings
Previously a secretary would spend an entire day compiling the papers - ordering them, working on the index, ensuring page numbering was accurate, checking page settings and printing and collating and mailing individual packs. It was always stressful and became a nightmare with late changes and redoing board packs.
With BoardPro, the whole process takes less than two hours with no stress.
The secretary simply checks everything is there and notifies board members that the pack is available for review. There are no more courier costs and associated delays in delivery. Board members login to to see the agenda and associated board papers in context.
Author: Robyn Pearce
Time and productivity columnist for the NZ Herald