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BLOG: Importance of real-time access in a crisis

Eslinda Hamzah | July 23, 2013
During a disaster, real-time access to critical information and each other is crucial for the CEO and board.

Board portals: secure, real-time access

The use of board portals began in 2001 and since then has achieved growing acceptance among public companies, private firms, and not-for-profits and government agencies alike.

Board portal technology has grown in popularity as a tool to provide real-time access to board briefing books, general company information, archival records of past board meetings and other mission-critical documents in advance of regularly-scheduled board meetings.  A board portal is a secure, password-protected website where new and archival material is posted specifically for senior management, corporate secretary, general counsel and board of directors. Because the board portals are Internet-based, directors need only a tablet or computer and Internet connection to participate.

Communicating during a crisis

For organisations to mitigate the consequences of a disaster and speed up their recovery, board crisis management plans must address real-time CEO-board access to information, communication and decision making. Here are five ways board portals can help:

  • Provides the board with up-to-the-minute material. Material can be posted on a secure board portal, allowing directors to view and comment upon it online, or be better prepared to have a meaningful discussion. Because updated material can be posted to a board portal immediately (as opposed to waiting for a group of documents to be couriered or faxed to board members), corporate secretaries and general counsels are able to maintain communications with their directors, keeping them engaged during a time of emergency.
  • Distributes crisis review briefings as a starting point: Just as general counsels and corporate secretaries pull together board briefing books in anticipation of quarterly board meetings, board portals can also house crisis review books - digital books available online that every director can review, providing uniform starting points for group board discussions.
  • Monitors the story as it unfolds via custom news feeds: Many of the board portal technologies available, including the Diligent Boardbooks® solution, allow for links to news feeds to be added to the web portal, providing directors context on how the media is reporting the issues at hand.
  • Protects the board from oversharing information: Unlike email, which can be inadvertently forwarded to inappropriate recipients, board portals are secure and can only be accessed by a password. Times of crisis call for critical input and discussion by a company's most seasoned executives - including its board of directors - within the walls of a confidential, secure system.
  • Enables decision-making among board members: A board portal helps to tap the collective experience of the board through collaboration and discussion. It also helps the board doing so with decisiveness and speed. Board portals can provide voting features that let members track how others have responded and how close they are to achieving consensus.

Eslinda Hamzah is Managing Director Asia Pacific, Diligent Boardbooks Limited.

 

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