6 Questions to Ask When Transitioning to a New Board Portal
The potential benefits of board management software cannot be downplayed. Boards that implement board software are highly likely to increase their efficiency, communication, and overall governance.
However, not all board portals are built the same way. Without a clear implementation plan, there is a risk that directors could become frustrated or confused during the switch to a new system.
If you’re on the lookout for a new board management solution, find out what questions to ask so that the selection and transition processes go smoothly—and so you don’t end up with a platform that doesn't suit your needs.
Here are the top questions boards of directors should ask their potential board management software provider before signing on:
How long does the software take to get up and running from the time the contract is signed?
Preferred Answer: The sooner the better
Custom applications and “pioneer” board management software can take three to four weeks to get up and running. But, newer technology and improved methods for distributing that technology allow boards to get full access to new board portals within a day of signing their contract.Having a point of contact gives you and board members confidence that questions will be answered quickly.
Do you have a single point of contact for questions and training?
Preferred Answer: Yes
Your board software provider should assign you a single point of contact who understands your board’s needs. The provider should also provide 24/7 support to you and your board members.
While board software should be simple and require little support, it’s still helpful to know that a direct point of contact is available for guidance while your team is adapting.
If any questions arise while implementing the new board portal, having a dedicated point of contact gives you and board members confidence that questions will be answered quickly and properly.
What type of training is included, and is there an extra cost?
Preferred Answer: Training is included at no extra cost.
Training should be included at no cost with every board management software implementation, and this training should be customized to your unique board requirements. For example, you may have administrators or board members that require group or individual training. The best software providers will adapt to meet your needs.
While most board members don’t want to sit through an hour-long training session, training should be available in both group and individual sessions. Many directors may only feel comfortable with using a new technology after receiving in-depth training. If training is already included in the contract, that’s one less thing to worry about.
How are product updates handled? Are they automatic? Are there software upgrades for mobile apps, and do they require expertise on the part of users?
Preferred Answer: The majority of product updates are automatic.
All software requires updates from time to time. But product updates that target bug fixes, required maintenance, or new features should be an automatic process for all web versions of board software. The experience should be frustration-free. Users should log in and have the latest software available.
If your users are required to follow complicated steps when upgrading, there is a higher chance that they will grow frustrated with the software. On mobile apps, any new releases or upgrades should be well-communicated and only require the touch of a button. Additionally, users should be able to set up automatic upgrade settings.
How much control does an administrator have to make changes, such as adding new groups or users, or changing subscription levels?
Preferred Answer: The board administrator has ample control.
A common problem that many board management software users face is that when a change is required—such as adding new users, setting up new security permissions, or creating a new group—the IT department or the software vendor needs to do it. This creates a bottleneck in workflow and can decrease your efficiency instead of making things easier.
Make sure your new board management software provider puts control in the administrators’ hands to eliminate any potential hold-ups.
Are there additional costs for making changes to the board software subscription?
Preferred Answer: No costs unless they are substantial changes.
There are often changes in the number of administrators, committees, ad hoc committees, and board members who will use the software. Sometimes, you may wish to grant temporary access to a user, such as an advisor or executive team member. Those changes often cannot be anticipated before implementation, which means that your board management software may need to adjust over time.
You’ll want to make sure that as your needs change, your board software provider will not ‘nickel and dime’ your subscription by adding annual costs for additional users or groups.
How to Overcome Board Portal Resistance
Enacting significant change in the boardroom is rarely easy, and it can be particularly difficult for directors to adopt a new board management solution when they are used to established practices. Some directors aren’t comfortable with new technology, while others struggle to find time to learn a new system.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when working with a board of directors that has mixed feelings about switching to new board management software:
Find board management software with features that clearly align with and solve the board’s needs.
Consider rolling out the new software slowly, so that directors can learn new features on their own timeline.
Partner with the provider to offer training and support.
Understand that there may be late adopters who will likely start using the software once they see how it simplifies communication and processes.
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