Going paperless saves your organization on courier and printing costs, but the true benefits go far beyond the price of stationery. Board portal software makes governance more efficient. Administrators can schedule meetings and distribute agendas instantly. Directors can access documents online and offline and collaborate live through document annotation. Some software even includes access logs that allow administrators to view whether or not a director has seen meeting materials. Directors who adapt to paperless document sharing also report spending less time “wading through” stacks of paper to find pertinent information. Digital materials are easier to reference and annotate in conjunction with other trustees.
A true digital workspace is more than just a file-sharing service. Directors can sign documents and vote on or review resolutions between meetings with a board portal. They can also make notes on materials, either for private use to prepare for a meeting or as part of a working process. While a great board portal makes scheduling meetings and distributing materials easy, the best are designed knowing that the work in-between meetings can be the most productive. Trustees want to discuss their thoughts on strategic plans and reports before meetings. Paperless communications skip the cumbersome and time-consuming printing and couriering stage, removing obstacles to live, pre-meeting discussion of materials. When all members are prepared, they devote more time to envisioning strategies and making informed decisions.
Digital Rights Management is a core function of secure board portals. Fortunately, the tool chest offered by software provider Aprio includes DRM. Administrators use Digital Rights Management to restrict access and control layers of permissions within the application. For example, viewing rights can be restricted for members with a conflict of interest. The feature is particularly useful for keeping materials like CEO evaluation confidential from management.
Administrators with software that supports DRM can restrict printing for highly sensitive documents, creating view-only copies depending on access. They can also add password access to files and add watermarks, or require digital signatures for access. Portals such as Aprio also enable rights validation and creation. Rights validation enables administrators to check that documents have permission to use pre-existing content. Rights creation enables administrators to permit new documents to use content. Administrators may also put content through a workflow process in which material is reviewed in steps for approval.
When your organization makes the move to a paperless board portal, one-on-one training and personal support can bring your directors up to speed. You can learn more about on boarding tech-skeptical trustees with 24/7/365 support and group or individual training. Good governance starts with efficiency, and going paperless is the best way to start the process. You may not be able to go cold turkey, but as directors realize that they can access materials faster, they’ll adapt to new technologies sooner than later. Leave the five-pound stacks of couriered documents and binders in the past and upgrade to a file-sharing system that understands all of your needs.
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