Key Findings of Forrester Study: Diligent Boards Reduces Time, Workflow and Risk

Ross Pounds

Diligent Boards is a board management software solution that provides a secure environment for creating, managing, and sharing board and committee materials, including board books and meeting minutes. The software allows board members to securely access materials and collaborate wherever they are.

Diligent recently commissioned global research and advisory company Forrester to develop a Total Economic Impact (TEI) study analyzing Diligent Boards along with four other solutions: Diligent ESG, Diligent Entities, Diligent Risk and Diligent Compliance.

For over two decades, Forrester has developed TEI reports, which help business technology consumers develop analyses for their internal technology decisions and let technology organizations provide an objective showcase for their solutions’ financial impact. TEI reports are developed based on due diligence, independent customer reviews, and primary research. Behind every TEI study is a proven industry framework.

Here, we take a look at the benefits, costs and risks associated with investing in Diligent Boards. Read on for highlights and key takeaways from the Diligent Boards TEI Report.

 

Background and Business Challenge

To make important decisions, corporate boards rely on the ability to seamlessly and securely access, share and discuss confidential information. Yet board materials traditionally have taken the form of paper copies and PDF attachments — easy to compromise and less simple to compile, update and distribute in a timely fashion. Even when board management software solutions are in place, directors and committee members often circumvent them through more familiar communications methods like emails, SharePoint sites and physical folders, putting sensitive materials at risk of exposure or compromise.

“You could easily leave a binder. If you’re at the airport, you could forget to pick it up. Any number of scenarios could happen,” the corporate governance paralegal for a utilities company explained.

Security risks represent just one of many concerns for the governance professionals compiling board materials. Creating books and binders for boards and committees is an intensely time-consuming process, with the inevitable last-minute edits and updates complicating matters even more.

''Trying to get material out internationally, material that shows up late…and then trying to get that material out the door accurately…it was very hectic..''
— Corporate governance paralegal, utilities

The Goal: 150 Meetings Made Easy

For this report, Forrester interviewed five representatives across industry sectors with experience using Diligent Boards, then aggregated their responses into the experience of a hypothetical multinational company with 10,000 employees, $5 billion in annual revenue and 150 board and committee meetings.

For this study, the composite organization signed 10 administrators and 50 users up on Diligent Boards and deployed it over four months, overlapping with its previous solution of alternative board management software.

In interviewees’ wish list for the ideal board management solution, top priorities included improved security, high-quality product support, compatibility with existing governance solutions and — last but far from least — a user experience that board members would find intuitive, to minimize workarounds.

 

The Quantified Benefits

Trimming Time, Costs and Risk

With Diligent Boards:

  • Paralegals spent 50%-60% less time creating and sharing board and committee materials
  • IT teams saved over $167,000 from retiring alternate board portal software and almost $17,000 in IT support
  • The organization generated $22,000 in risk reduction benefits through better technology adoption

        

One of the biggest quantifiable benefits of Diligent Boards has been time savings, whether interviewees were using manual methods or alternative board software products.  “Moving to Boards, I would say it’s cut 75% of the time of attorneys and paralegals preparing board materials,” the senior manager in financial services said. The timeline with Diligent Boards has been “a couple of hours to prepare the materials and send them out.”

For the corporate governance paralegal, getting materials out on time during “crunch time” can often require a junior paralegal, senior paralegal and general counsel. With Diligent Boards, “I can do it myself,” with an estimated 75%-80% time savings from document upload to review.

This time savings benefit extended to IT administration. Interviewees noted that previous board management solutions required dedicated IT staff for troubleshooting and managing accounts — “two managers, four offshore people, and it would be part of their job and it overcomplicated things,” remarked the senior manager in financial services.

With Diligent Boards, the staff responsible for board materials can handle the IT administration themselves. System updates, for example, “come automatically,” noted the corporate governance paralegal in utilities. “They’re not often and they may run in the background, but every now and then it will tell you something is being installed, and it does it when you launch it.” Furthermore, with Diligent Boards, organizations can retire their previous board management software — a three-year, risk-adjusted present value savings of over $167,000.

Ease of use yielded additional savings around risk reduction. Simply put, Diligent Boards’ intuitive interface meant that directors were more likely to keep sensitive material within the secure portal. For example, they use the solution for sharing information rather than request risky workarounds such as “just email me a PDF.”

The senior manager in financial services estimated that 60% of board and committee members asked for PDFs with the previous platform, but less than 10% do with Diligent Boards. The assistant corporate secretary at an insurance company shared a similar experience. “Today, I can honestly say within the last several board meetings, I haven’t had any directors reach out to get a separate copy of the materials.”

 

The Unquantified Benefits

"[Diligent Boards] allows us to communicate efficiently, accurately, and quickly with our directors and executives, and it’s the only product that has been able to meet all of those needs.''
— Corporate governance paralegal, utilities, interviewed for the TEI report

While it’s more difficult to put a price tag on benefits like flexibility, simplicity and convenience, interviewees cited significant value in these areas as well, detailing several different ways Diligent Boards made board operations easier and more effective. These include:

  • Enabling new directors to access onboarding, briefing and induction materials securely and seamlessly via limited-access folders
  • Facilitating secure document-sharing with regulators and auditors via special visitor accounts
  • Improving director and committee responsiveness by putting board materials and communications in one place

“Before, if I would send an email to their internal email address, you may not get a response for several days,” the corporate governance paralegal with the utility company remarked. “With [Diligent Boards], I’m noticing since we implemented it, we get responses instantly.” Similarly, signatures are completed “within a couple of minutes of uploading, because it’s so easy and most of our users have Diligent open all the time.”

Interviewees also noted how the security and mobility of Diligent Boards enabled them to keep board members up to date and board operations going during times of business disruptions, like the COVID-19 pandemic. “If it wasn’t for Diligent, I would have been in the office building binders,” the corporate governance paralegal at a utility company commented.

Furthermore, interviewees found value in working with Diligent as a company. They appreciated everything from the additional capabilities of Diligent’s governance, risk and compliance solutions to the insights gained at Diligent’s governance conferences. “It’s nice to be viewed as current and signaling to our directors that we’re paying attention to the best governance practices and technologies available,” the IT manager from the energy industry said.

Importantly, interviewees noted that Diligent Boards improved board and committee decision-making. Earlier access to the latest materials, with the ability to pre-read and make notes, enabled better conversations and, in turn, better decisions.

''Without a doubt, [Diligent Boards] is a better product, and it enables us to hold board meetings faster and make decisions faster.''
— Senior manager, financial services, interviewed for the TEI report

Learn more by downloading the full Diligent Boards Forrester TEI Report.

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Ross Pounds
Ross Pounds is a Content Marketing Manager at Diligent. Based in the UK and a graduate of the University of Warwick, he has worked as a journalist and across a variety of industries in both corporate and early stage environments, and specializes in long-form content and broader content strategy. Ross has'a particular interest in ESG and pre-IPO companies.