Creating Entity Visibility for the Board of Directors

Lauren Mcmenemy

Even the smallest business must store and access essential information regarding its structuring and operations. No matter the size of the business, those running it are required to make decisions on its future growth, on potential M&A opportunities or on upsizing or downsizing, and to make these decisions, they require knowledge and understanding of entity information.

Legal entity management, though, is seen as the purview of the legal operations, compliance or governance teams. Led by the general counsel, these are the people dealing with legal entity management and entity data on a day-to-day basis, overseeing data integrity and ensuring filings and amendments are handled with care.

Yet the Board of Directors is not only required to make decisions based on entity data, but also to take personal responsibility for the state of compliance across an entity or group structure. How can they do this without full entity visibility? And how can they get the entity visibility they need to do their jobs compliantly?

Why Does the Board of Directors Need to Access Entity Information?

While you may think the Board doesn’t need to access this important corporate and entity information, visibility of entity information does actually help board operations run more smoothly. Plus, that entity visibility can also bring peace of mind to the director who is taking on additional regulatory responsibilities.

The pressure on directors to exercise good governance and fiduciary responsibility has never been greater, nor been the subject of more intense scrutiny. The regulatory burden can now include personal sanctions – including fines and even jail time – if a director sits on a board that has compliance failures. They could personally be held accountable in the media, taking a hit to their own reputation, forever associated in the internet archive with a governance transgression. This means that directors need oversight of all the boards they sit on, a way to gain greater understanding of those finer details they may once have been happy to leave to the general counsel.

As we’ve said before, governance is about who has the power to make decisions and who is accountable for them. This means that, in order to make strategic decisions for the business that are based on robust data insights gleaned from a secure and uncorrupted source, the Board of Directors needs seamless access to entity information – delivered at the right time, in the right place and in the right format, to the right people.

However you look at it, directors must have access to information about the organizations they serve. Ensuring the integrity and accuracy of this data – and the insights from the reports provided – is likely to help them have better-quality discussions. Then, having the information they need about each entity they oversee helps to ensure the individual directors, and the collective Board of Directors, can ask good questions and better contribute to the success of the business.

How a Dashboard Can Provide Essential Visibility for Directors

Of course, that important entity information can be valuable and sensitive – not the sort of thing you want to open up to anyone and everyone. Developments in board operations technology have brought with them dedicated technology to control access, which means this information can now be kept secure, watertight, and safe from hackers or other security threats.

Yet, there are often multiple platforms handling distinct pieces of the entity and board management process, and the use of multiple platforms brings with it increasing cybersecurity risks – especially the risk that sensitive corporate information could be hacked or leaked, and end up in the hands of the press or competitors. And this doesn’t take into consideration the compliance failures inherent in a data leak, and the accompanying regulatory sanctions.

Integrations between technology are possible through APIs, or an application programming interface – a digital bridge between pieces of kit – but even APIs themselves are not foolproof, and manual transferring of data will never be agreed to by the CISO, who wants to keep the sensitive corporate information away from emails and personal ad hoc connections.

The solution here is simple: an integrated end-to-end entity, board management and governance solution can help to ensure there is no potential for leakage around documents being moved between systems. It brings everything under one robust umbrella, able to move seamlessly between needs, with reports and insights able to draw on a host of entity information, not just that which is in the particular platform in current use.

But the Board of Directors doesn’t have time to sift through every little detail involved in board operations. They need to access the pertinent information, the things that personally impact them or their decisions, in an easy-to-use format for streamlined decision-making. They need the details at a glance, with indicators highlighting decisions needed, upcoming deadlines, personal responsibilities and collective needs.

governance operations dashboard can bring this at-a-glance visibility to the Board of Directors, enabling streamlined decisions and easy access to what they need, when they need it – and, bearing in mind the inherent security flaws and corruption potential when dealing with a patchwork of systems, the dashboard will work best when pulled from a single source of truth held centrally to ensure data integrity.

Integrated End-to-End Governance Technology Delivers Visibility for the Board of Directors

To make this dashboard effective, though, legal operations professionals need to create a single source of entity information, not only to ensure compliance and improve the integrity of corporate information, but also to create an easily auditable record for the corporate memory. This becomes difficult in situations in which a patchwork of governance technology is hastily bridged, or where manual transference of data is commonplace.

Diligent has a complete end-to-end governance solution that ensures this sensitive corporate data can be moved between systems securely and with appropriate controls to make sure the right person has the information they need at the right time. Diligent’s Governance Cloud helps to ensure governance and compliance across the entire corporate structure – including board meetings and effectivenessentity governance and secure collaboration – in a way that is both flexible and scalable to support business growth.

With built-in workflows and templates to ensure compliance and entity information is up to date, Diligent’s governance suite helps to mitigate risk for the Board of Directors, bringing them that essential visibility of the status of entities. And with each element of the governance process included as part of the integrated system, the Board of Directors can access the information pertinent to them via a custom dashboard, ensuring no more missed decisions or sign-offs.

Get in touch and schedule a demo to see how Diligent’s Governance Cloud can help to both streamline your board operations and bring essential entity visibility to the Board of Directors.

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Lauren McMenemy

Experienced journalist Lauren McMenemy has been writing about compliance and governance for several years, and has covered finance, professional services, healthcare, technology, energy and entertainment.