Secure Board Communications and Why You Shouldn’t Be Using Paper

Using paper to communicate in the boardroom is expensive, inefficient and dangerous, yet most UK companies still rely on paper. Traditional email and messaging are risky, as breaches are inevitable. Board portals provide both secure communications and efficient sharing of information that leads to improved performance.

Using paper is expensive, inefficient and dangerous

It is surprising to learn that nearly half of UK companies still rely on paper-based communications at board meetings, even printing board packs and handing them out. This means they print and pay for 6,200 pages each year just for board packs.

That figure is derived from research by British technology firm eShares, which revealed that the average board pack contains 96.7 pages. Companies have, on average, 8.1 directors on the board and hold 7.9 board meetings each year, hence about 6,200 pages of board pack materials. Add to that the inefficiency: C-suite executives spend 40 hours, on average, just preparing board packs. Don’t forget all the re-packing, as, invariably, people standing around the copier lose pages or get them in the wrong order.

Add security risk to the inefficiency and expense. Paper board packs can be easily lost or stolen, and when sharing is necessary, they have to be physically passed from one person to another. This may seem obvious, but that hasn’t stopped companies from sticking with paper. Sometimes, they even send board packs off in the regular post. All of this is dangerous.

Email is insecure

Of course, some boards already use paperless communications, making .pdfs of board packs and communicating via email with attachments. Some use services like Box, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive to store and share documents.

This is just as dangerous as using paper, however. These forms of storage and communication are always subject to security risk, as files and data are sent without proper encryption or password protection. They are vulnerable to hackers and cybercriminals – with the number of breaches in the UK at 65,000 per quarter, and increasing at the rate of more than 50 percent every three months, the dangers of relying on insecure conventional means of communication should be evident.

Then there is the issue of efficiency. Timely and efficient access to information is critical to the work of the board. There must be a system in the organisation for board communication ensuring that no information which board members require be left out, that the right information is shared, and that only the people who have the right to certain information receive it. Information in the wrong hands risks becoming a leak, and the resultant damage to an organisation’s reputation could be critical.

This is particularly important, because, today, a great deal of board work now takes place between meetings. The US National Association of Corporate Directors’ (NACD’s) Public Company Governance Survey 2013-2014 found that directors spend 71.3 hours per month reading documents and other material, almost as much time as they do on board meetings themselves (81 hours per month).

With increasing business complexity and regulatory scrutiny, the amount of board work and the number of board meetings have also increased. Board members have to work harder, and they have an increasing number of responsibilities. They also must attend to performance, as there is a risk of personal liability if the best interests of the organisation have not been served.

Along with the increased work, the volume of board papers has increased. The Thomson Reuters 2013 Board Governance survey showed that, based on the amount of reading time spent, on average, by board members both at and in-between meetings, it’s clear that directors don’t spend much time on each page of their board packs. The NACD survey warned: “Thrown into the weeds and forced to prioritise materials, directors are more likely to become overwhelmed and miss critical risks.”

Board portals are safe and support efficient board communications

The e-boardroom offers a safe and efficient alternative that also costs less. Electronic document management replaces traditional paper or IT applications for sharing information. Board portal software allows directors to securely access board documents and to collaborate with other board members via safe channels. The best board portal solutions allow access via a number of platforms, including personal computers, tablets and smartphones.

Diligent provides secure, efficient boardroom communications

To make communications swift and secure among board members, Diligent offers Diligent Messenger. Messenger fully integrates with Boards as a one-stop shop for secure document sharing and communication. It’s also accessible via the iOS app and Web browsers. And it’s easy to adopt and to use. It takes two minutes to set up, providing instant access to contacts and assets. The familiar user interface is intuitive for easy adoption.

Diligent Boards is the world’s leading board collaboration software solution. Designed for board members to access and review board materials in real time from anywhere in the world,

Diligent Boards is available across all devices and is backed by 24/7/365 support.

The portal provides the highest level of security available today: high-grade encryption, code obfuscation, VPNs and all of the most important threat defences.

Diligent provides a user-friendly interface, a comprehensive workflow process and easy book building, which allows you to create books to your specifications using Office applications.

Board Portal Buyer’s Guide

With the right Board Portal software, a board can improve corporate governance and efficiency while collaborating in a secure environment. With lots of board portal vendors to choose from, the whitepaper contains the most important questions to ask during your search, divided into five essential categories.

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