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Board effectiveness and evaluation  |  Digital transformation  |  Governance

Digitalising boards: The 5 tools every board needs to operate effectively

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Boards oversee plenty of areas within an organisation. With the right tools, they can operate more effectively.

A board of directors is an important fixture in organisations of all kinds, from publicly held corporations and financial institutions to non-profits and industry associations — just to name a few. The board of directors provides oversight and leadership, ensuring the organisation it serves is always working toward its mission and reaching its full potential.

Boards have myriad responsibilities to juggle. They need access to the right tools to fulfill their key duties effectively and efficiently.

Of course, technology needs vary from board to board. However, there are 5 key board tools every board needs.


1. Remote meeting software tool

Not long ago, in-person board meetings were the gold standard. But the COVID-19 pandemic struck and that all changed.

Many boards of directors started holding remote board meetings — a transition that required the right technology in order to be effective. Boards adopted remote meeting tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting, which made it possible to continue holding board meetings — while avoiding the risks of face-to-face interactions.

It seems the switch to remote board meetings has not had a negative effect on board productivity. OnBoard’s 2021 Board Effectiveness Survey found that 79% of respondents feel their boards were more effective following the pandemic. Most of these respondents noted the move to remote work and virtual meetings — made possible by remote meeting software — was a primary reason for their increased effectiveness.


2. A board assessment tool

An organisation regularly assesses the performance of its employees. However, it’s just as important to appraise the performance of the board of directors.

According to a Harvard Business review article from 1998, Appraising Boardroom Performance, directors who have initiated board evaluations experience numerous benefits, including smoother meetings and better information, among others. Regular evaluations shed light on opportunities for improvements and optimisations that lead to a more effective board.

As such, every board needs a board assessment tool. Such a tool allows for self-assessments as well as evaluations from an external vendor. Board assessment tools can assess the board, as well as individual members. Boards with multiple committees can also evaluate their performance with a committee assessment or evaluation.

Related posts: Board effectiveness self-assessment; Board Dynamics

Additional resource: OnBoard assessment tool


3. A board skills matrix tool

Each director has a unique combination of skills, experiences, and perspectives. It is important to ensure that collectively, a board has the right mix to meet the needs of the organisation today and in the future.

This isn’t always easy.

A skills matrix tool is a tool that boards can use to evaluate the skills of each director and is also a valuable tool for planning the organisation’s future needs.

Related posts: The use of skills matrix in succession planning

Additional resource: OnBoard skills matrix tool


4. A meeting minutes tool

Meeting minutes serve as the official record of who attended a board meeting, what decisions were made and all other consequential events that happened during the meeting.

Different industries and business sectors have different requirements when it comes to meeting minutes. However, there are three basic elements that are similar across organisations:

  • Format: The minutes should have an official header that includes the date, time, place, and type of meeting. The same format should be used across all meeting minutes.
  • Attendance: This is a record of who planned to attend the meeting and who attended.
  • Body: This portion of the minutes has two main components: administrative and substantive business.

Creating meeting minutes might not be a board’s favorite task but it’s an important one. A meeting minutes tool can streamline and simplify the process.


5. A board portal

Each board of directors has established processes and procedures. Often, boards leverage disparate tools for their various tasks. They may even rely on inefficient, paper-based processes that are time-consuming and not sufficiently secure.

A growing number of boards are adopting a board portal, also referred to as a board platform, to streamline their processes and improve their overall board management.

What is a board portal? It is a single, secure environment where administrators and directors can access meeting materials and information, communicate with each other, and execute their governance responsibilities. In fact, some board portals encompass all the essential board meeting tools we have covered within a single tool.

Not all board portals are the same, though. If you are considering investing in a board management platform, it is important to weigh your options to determine which is the best for your board.

Each board has different needs when it comes to a board portal. However, there are certain features that are typically important across all boards.

  • Accessibility: Board members should be able to access the portal wherever and whenever they want it.
  • Security: When the wrong information gets into the wrong hands, the consequences can be costly. Data security must be the foundation of any great board portal. For example, OnBoard is built on Microsoft Azure, which is the gold standard in cloud security.
  • Ease of use: If a board platform is difficult to use, it won’t be widely adopted. It is important to find a board portal with a clear, intuitive design that makes it easy to get work done.
  • Scalability: The best board portals can easily be scaled for multiple boards and committees within the same organisation.
  • In-app tools and features: The right board portal has all the tools, features, and integrations a board needs to get work done. Ideally, the portal should integrate tools No. 1 through 4 in a single platform.


This blog is written by OnBoard, who have partnered with NEDonBoard to provide educational content to our community of influential board members. Contact their experts to have more information at [email protected] or visit


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