Kezia Farnham Image
Kezia Farnham
Senior Manager

What is board reporting?

June 13, 2024
0 min read
Executives at the C-suite level discussing a board report

If the board of directors is the brain, board reporting is the eyes: a strategic and goal-oriented look at business or organizational activities and the broader industry landscape. Done well, board reporting gives the board the insight they need to stay agile in the face of ever-evolving business needs. On the other hand, ineffective board reporting can cut the board off at the knees, forcing them to make decisions without a clear picture of the business.

What is board reporting that helps, not hinders? We’ll explain from the beginning: the board report.

What is a board report?

A board report is a document that conveys to the board key insights and information related to the organization’s risks, opportunities and overall performance. It’s the culmination of everything practitioners and executive leaders do to synthesize organizational insights for the board. Simply put, there is no board reporting without a clear and consistent board report.

The purpose of a board report

Board reports are a vital communication tool. They give the board a window into business activities — those that are going well and those that are at risk — and how each aligns with the organization’s strategic objectives. By offering relevant data, insights, and recommendations, board reports enable the board to assess performance, address challenges, and chart a clearer, data-driven path toward long-term success.

Who is responsible for preparing board reports?

Board reporting is almost always a group effort. Executives at the C-suite level often guide their teams in delivering reports that they know will resonate with the board. Practitioners, including the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), General Counsel, Head of Audit and Head of Sustainability, use that guidance to compile the essential insights and recommendations related to their area of oversight.

How often are board reports prepared and distributed?

The frequency of board reports varies. Though board reports have historically been prepared and distributed either quarterly or annually, modern boards need more frequent reporting to stay abreast of rapidly evolving risks and opportunities. Pace is a limiting factor for traditional board reporting, but governance platforms are increasingly becoming the link between the board and daily operations. Platforms like these give executive leaders and practitioners instant and holistic oversight across the organization, unlocking more frequent board reporting without the added burden of preparing them.

4 types of board reports

Not all board reporting is alike. While some may be a comprehensive overview of the entire organization, others might drill down into a specific function. The four most common board reports are:

  1. Operational reports: These reports detail day-to-day activities and performance and illustrate how that information aligns with the organization’s objectives.
  2. Financial reports: Boards use financial reports to assess fiscal health, specifically income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  3. CEO reports: Offering higher-level insight, these reports cover achievements, challenges, strategic initiatives and the organization’s progress against pre-defined goals.
  4. HR reports: Human capital is essential to organizations. Directors use HR reports to assess workforce engagement, talent acquisition, turnover and more.

Get started with reporting using a template

There is no one “best” board report. How you report depends on your organization, your industry and your objectives. But above all, make sure your board reports are consistent. Keeping it consistent reduces the burden on practitioners because they’ll pull similar metrics and write powerful, relevant narratives every time. You’re also empowering the board to easily compare performance from one report to the next. How do you create a board report that is useful to practitioners and the board alike?

Empower your board with effective reporting solutions

Navigating the complexities of board reporting requires precision, insight, and the right tools. Effective board reports empower directors with the knowledge to make strategic decisions that align with organizational goals. Diligent’s Board Portal, part of the Diligent One Platform, simplifies the creation and distribution of board reports, ensuring that your board has access to timely, relevant, and actionable information.

Learn more about how our board portal can streamline your reporting process and enhance decision-making at the board level.


What is board reporting for government organizations?

In government organizations, board reporting is preparing and presenting information to governing boards or oversight committees. Government board reports typically include compliance and regulatory updates, budget performance, policy implementation and more.

How can you ensure you’re always prepared for a surprise board meeting (and save time across all your reports)?

Practitioners can prepare and deliver board reports more quickly if your reporting interface is seamlessly integrated with daily activities. Using a single platform for both board reporting and routine operations allows practitioners to easily access all the analytics they need and seamlessly report back to the board. Practitioners can then report as accurately and efficiently for urgent meetings as they do for scheduled ones.

How does using one platform for board reporting increase organizational alignment?

Many organizations manually pull data from multiple different sources. These sources don’t always align, making it difficult to articulate the relationship between one piece of data and another. Using one platform connects all data in a single dashboard, giving practitioners a clear view of cross-departmental data that can be tied to organizational objectives clearly and strategically.

What is board reporting for the education sector (is it different than for corporate)?

Board reporting for the education sector has some similarities to corporate board reporting, but the differences come down to the unique structure of educational institutions. Unlike corporate reports, reporting in the education sector focuses on areas like the institution’s mission and educational goals, student performance and curriculum and program updates.


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