The club industry is often accused of being the last industry to jump on the technology bandwagon. However, as more and more board members at the table become digital natives, we are seeing a shift in the way board meetings are being conducted and information is communicated. Recently, an article appeared in Yahoo News offering ways in which directors are driving the adoption of technology in the boardroom and the security implications that arise from these technology shifts.
This shift in technology coupled with busy lifestyles and work-away options will likely result in a demand for much more productive, efficient board meetings. What if board meetings had limited administrative discussions and less staff preparation duties because much of the necessary tasks and papers were addressed in advance of the meetings?
The benefits of moving to a digital board portal are straightforward: digitized boards are freed from cumbersome administrative processes and can focus on core duties rather than administrative tasks. This benefit is most evident when it comes to the assembly of board books, agendas and meeting minutes—all can be assembled through board portal technologies and shared with members instantaneously. Portals also allow directors to communicate between meetings, share and edit documents, conduct surveys, review upcoming events and scheduled meetings.
A concern brought up in Yahoo’s article refers to the fact that cyber security becomes an issue when shifting the lion’s share of business dealings to an online platform. As Yahoo points out, “Paper documents can get misplaced, meaning sensitive or proprietary information can get into the wrong hands. Even email has risks, opening board directors to a slew of malicious third parties and cyber threats. Technology can provide a secure, centralized space to store documents. Permission settings can be added to control who has access to certain files.“ Many club boards are in the habit of using email as a form of communication now, which could be problematic if sent to someone in error. So, addressing cyber security to safeguard private documents (financial ledgers, strategic planning documents, sensitive member information) stay secure as well as ensuring that members’ private information remains that way when he/she is using the club’s website. Most private clubs already use password-protected members-only sections on the club’s website to ensure that all club business conducted online is safe and secure, which we certainly endorse.
Board portals offer directors the opportunity to regain valuable hours back into their day since all key documents are stored in one place; it’s as simple as accessing what they need to see, make changes that are immediately noted and look at materials to prepare for the next meeting. Imagine if the club manager or administrator was no longer bogged down with making copies for meetings. With technology in the form of a board portal, there is also n need to chase down paperwork, board notebooks or pulling from scattered file locations. This efficiency gives directors the ability to focus on their core duties of setting strategy, policy-making and financial oversight.
As we discussed in our recent webinar, Board and Committee Orientations, the key to an effective board lies in conducting a quality board orientation. The board orientation is the ideal time to introduce the concept of the digital boardroom, or board portal technologies to your volunteer leadership. If you don’t have plans to orient new board members, now is the time to schedule a board retreat to bring your leadership up to speed on the club as introduce board portal technology best practices. This will get the board started on the right foot and ensure that everyone is in the same room working through the technology together.
While nothing beats a quality face-to-face meeting, the benefits of technology to support our face-to-face meetings cannot be ignored. As we continue to talk about ‘the club of the future’, the use of technology for leadership effectiveness cannot be ignored and should be part of a club’s strategic plan.