Five years ago, the thought of company board members turning to a screen instead of briefing books was so novel that the phrase board portal was contained by quotes in an American Banking Association newsletter. Three years ago, only 9 percent of directors reported using online portal to access information or communicate with their fellow board members. Today, fully half of board members do, according to a new survey issued by KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute.
The survey, which was published in June, detailed that online board management is rapidly growing and will likely continue, with another 20 percent of respondents planning to introduce a portal to their boards in the next year. They are mostly used to post pre-meeting materials and update the board between meetings.
Such a rapid rate of adoption should not be too surprising. Board portals provide a clear advantage over paper reports. Moreover, many board members began demanding better access to corporate information and financials following the 2002 passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which holds boards responsible for internal controls and audits of their companies.
Security Worries Linger
But even when companies adopt board portals, KPMG still notes some concerns. The most common worry is security. More than 75 percent of the survey’s respondents say they are concerned about the security of a board portal. And the burgeoning demand for board portal software has spawned dozens of businesses in recent years -- more than 100 companies are listed under portal software on software comparison site Capterra – might include a few unscrupulous or disorganized ones that could compromise boardroom confidentiality.
Still, the KPMG survey indicates that these privacy concerns are not so worrisome that companies are turning from board portals. And they are continuing to evolve, from secure websites to mobile aps. Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents say they provide a tablet, such as an iPad to its board members to access the portal. That number is expected to double in the next year.
Redefining Boards or Just Making Life Easier?
This increased connectivity could eventually change the role or influence of boards on companies. While board portals are obviously more convenient, they also offer directors an opportunity to be more engaged in committees and have greater communication among themselves and management. This raises question: Will Board Portals change the nature of Boards themselves?
Click here to read the entire KPMG Audit Committee Institute report.
In a bold statement last week, Wayne Turmel of Bnet, wrote a blog entitled “If Email is Dead, What Replaces It?” Which obviously begs the question, “Is email actually dead?” Well, yes and no. Turmel’s point is a resounding theme on this blog. Email is alive as a communication device, but it is not a place to manage critical data, especially for companies.
From communication to file cabinet
At some point email stopped functioning strictly as a means of communication and turned into a makeshift filing cabinet. As Turmel points out, “Initially, email was a great way to share a thought with one or more persons who could pore over the idea at their convenience. But it unexpectedly became a document depository.” It’s easy to understand how that can happen. Documents are themselves a form of communication. You send a file to someone through email, and rather than printing a copy and filing it away somewhere, you create an email folder and keep it there. The only problem is that over time email turns into a disorganized “document trash can” that is neither useful nor penetrable.
I think it’s called…
We’ve all done it (probably more times than we care to admit) – spent fruitless hours searching our email inboxes trying to find an attachment in an email someone sent us 6 months ago with a subject line we think is titled one thing but clearly is not. We unsuccessfully try this key word and that one. We look through likely folders and then the unlikely ones in a vain attempt to find the elusive document. Admit it. Using email for document storage is a huge time waster. The stats are easy to find. ARMA reports that something like 280 business hours a year are spent per person hunting for misplaced documents, and in all likelihood a high percentage of those hours is spent searching in email inboxes.
Critical data management
So what’s the solution? How do we use email for what it’s good at, communicating, but also get the key documents sent through it into a better filing cabinet? Well, imagine this – a tool, which integrates with email but separately and intelligently files your most important corporate documents. Not only does it file it, but it gets the key data from within those documents and puts it in a helpful document summary, so you can access its most important information without even opening up the attachment. Too good to be true? It’s not. It’s what we call critical data management and DDC’s SaaS solution BoardPortal is the pioneer in this emerging area. We recognize that email is no place to keep your company’s insurance contracts or employment agreements. Even if you’re organized enough to save the attachments to your hard drive, we know that computers crash. People leave companies unexpectedly not to mention the sheer redundancy of multiple individuals saving the same document when you could just access it in one secure portal.
To find out how BoardPortal is rendering email-as-a-filing-cabinet truly dead, click here.
The running joke among startups these days is that you can almost completely run your company on free software, which is great for cash-strapped entrepreneurs. From Bizspark to Mailchimp and all the social networking sites in between, there is certainly value in the freemium model. However, the recent breech in security over at Google got us thinking, “What are your key documents worth?”
Running a business, whatever its stage, comes with a tremendous amount of paperwork. The list of materials that pile up, from tax ID numbers and employment agreements to articles of incorporation and insurance contracts, only increases the longer you are in business and the bigger your company gets.
Sadly, a lot of startups think that Google Docs is a passable place to stick such files. It’s free. It’s shareable. It’s adequate. Unfortunately, when it comes to all the paperwork that accompanies running a business, you just can’t take that risk. It’s one thing to store a marketing plan or sales pipeline in Google Docs. It’s another to use it for filing confidential and critical corporate information. Plus, Google Docs is storage, plain and simple. Nothing else. If you’re looking for a business tool to help you keep your corporate information organized, summarized, accessible, shareable, and completely secure, you’ll need to find another option, like SmartBoard.
As you consider how to keep your business growing and prepare for whatever the future may hold, ask yourself this question. What are my company’s documents worth? What would happen if I lost them either through electronic failure or physical disaster? What key documents are in the inboxes of people who may not always be with the company? If you’re even a little uncertain, check out DocDeps’s solutions.