Board portal

Board portal

A board portal is collaborative software that allows board of directors to securely access board documents and collaborate with other board members electronically.

History

The passing of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has placed significant legal and financial responsibility on the board of directors to ensure that they fulfill their fiduciary duty to stockholders and has driven many companies to increase the number of outside, independent directors on the board. Consequently, this has led to more frequent meetings, increased information review, and increased communications between meetings. The purpose of a board portal is to securely support board communications and board workflows.

Features of a Board Portal

A board portal can be a custom-built, in-house application, an off-the-shelf, commercial application that is deployed by IT, or a subscription-based, software as a service. Board portals provide the following features:

*Strict security: Due to the sensitive nature of board information, security and confidentiality is critical. Typically, board portals will use two-factor authentication for user logins, role-based access control to information, and full encryption of stored information and communications between members.
*Online accessibility: Board members can review documents or communicate with other members at any time, even when they are on the road.
*Offline accessibility: Board members can download documents to their computer for offline review. However, board portals ensure that downloaded documents still support the same strict level of security.
*Board book creation, modification, and distribution: Corporate secretaries can use the board portal to create board materials and disseminate them online. Edits or deletion of documents can be done and the changes are immediately distributed. This saves the hassles associated with printing and handling changes after board books have been printed. Board books are often quite thick, with 600 pages on the low-end to as many as 2,000+ pages.
*Data Retention Policy Support: To mitigate company liability, board portals enforce data retention policies on documents, as well as board member communications.
*Secure web conferencing: Boards usually meet 4-6 times per year, but their communication needs are often much more frequent. Web conferencing allows board members to easily continue discussions.

Benefits of a Board Portal

*Reduce paper usage and waste
*Faster board book creation and distribution
*Better source control of documents and security of information
*More timely communications with board members
*Access to information by board members from any place and at any time

References

*"Wall Street Journal", [http://www.infostreet.com/press/news/Wall_Street_Journal_10_23_06.pdf Goodbye Briefing Books, October 23, 2006]
*Nina Locker and Laura Grant, [http://www.wsgr.com/publications/pdfsearch/boardportals0606.pdf The Case for Board Portals: A Litigator's View] , June 2006
*"Business Week", [http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2007/tc20070814_130994.htm Corporate Boards Get Busy Online] , August 14, 2007


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