Credit union boardrooms have not only done a creditable job adopting mobile technology to meet their members’ banking needs, but have also been at the forefront in leveraging the power of the Internet to improve non-customer-facing tasks.
As early as 2008, many credit union boards began using online board portals – Web-based platforms that simplify how board materials are produced, delivered and reviewed. However, the past two years have led to an explosion in credit unions’ adoption of board portals, fueled by the proliferation of tablets and business apps.
For credit unions considering moving from hard copy board books to a board portal, the checklist of requirements for a secure, easy-to-use solution is straightforward, yet critical to ensuring acceptance by all directors. The solution must be secure, customizable in both implementation and training, and ultimately, must ease the crucial pain points faced by credit unions. A board portal will only be viewed as a smart investment if the solution helps directors read, annotate and engage with board materials more conveniently and securely than the bulky paper hand-outs or PDFs the portal replaces.
Setting a new standard for secure access to board materials and governance
Board portals enable a safe, secure means of communicating highly sensitive board materials to directors. Today, directors are performing their responsibilities at a time of intense regulatory change and scrutiny. Concerns about governance and compliance are top of mind. Board portals provide directors with secure access to the critical documents needed to fulfill their duties. Any credit union considering and reviewing best practices in governance should be looking to implement a board portal.
Capabilities in data security have advanced and likewise, board portals have strengthened the security processes surrounding the activities of a credit union’s board of directors. All information is fully password protected and encrypted; nothing material is ever communicated via email. With these stringent security measures in place, no one but each specific director can access his or her information, and directors can only view materials to which they’ve been given access.
Directors’ varied needs require a customizable solution
The board communication and governance needs of each credit union are different and complex, with factors like director travel, frequency of meetings, and specific state or local regulations weighing heavily on every decision the board makes. Every credit union must begin by closely examining what is working with its directors and then determine where there is room for improvement. The board portal solution must be customizable, so that the software saves time and money for both the credit union and its directors.
A board portal is more than just software. Credit unions should look for a board portal that provides one-on-one training for every director. Regular support for routine tasks, such as home computer set-up and password recovery, are a must, and a board portal should have the flexibility to be personalized to match each individual’s comfort level with technology. In short, the credit union’s board portal provider should be willing and able to hold a director’s hand every step of the way, through preparation, implementation and complete integration.
While directors may use an iPad personally, moving to a digital reading experience may be new territory. A good board portal should actually be even easier to use than a paper book, featuring an intuitive interface, easy navigation and other add-on benefits like search, voting, and approvals that take the experience to the next level.
For directors on the move, seamless access to their board materials is essential. When board members leave the office, get on an airplane or enter the boardroom with their iPads, they should be able to enjoy the same book-like reading experience regardless of their location or access to a Wi-Fi connection. Overall, this ease of use and familiarity provided to the directors will greatly improve their adoption of this new technology.
Board portals ease the pain points felt by credit unions
A primary point of stress for credit unions across the country is the challenge to achieve timely communication of board materials to directors, who often need to review documents quickly or on-the-go. These board books, which are large in size – sometimes running into thousands of pages each – require lengthy preparation and printing time, and use up a significant amount of paper.
Some credit unions have reported using as much as one million pieces of paper a year for board and committee materials.
An effective board portal alleviates these pain points by providing directors with intuitive and interactive tools that streamline communication and organization, while saving the organization countless hours that would otherwise have been spent printing, collating, binding and shipping the board books.
With board portals, directors receive the most updated versions on their tablets or PCs once the materials are prepared, which can even be updated prior to or during the course of a meeting. Additionally, board portals can be a vital element of any credit union’s green initiatives, as they help lower carbon footprint by eliminating the use of large quantities paper every year, and facilitating electronic delivery instead of physical delivery of large and bulky board books.
As tablets continue to rise in popularity, any credit union considering best practices in corporate governance should consider implementing a board portal. A secure board portal solution will provide credit union directors with the interactive tools to efficiently streamline communications, featuring significant savings in cost, time and resources.
These valuable tools include security that meets or exceeds the most demanding industry standards and a true book-like reading experience that provides equally robust online and offline access.