COVID-19 has resulted in the single biggest change to the function of boards in 80 years, according to New Zealand and Australian board management software company BoardPro.
Companies that will be successful in a post-COVID19 world are those that accept that the way we do business isn’t returning to how it once was, according to BoardPro CEO Brett Herkt.
Remote board meetings are here to stay, and sound governance technology will become a risk reduction practice in itself, he says.
Herkt says he has seen mounting interest among boards looking to streamline board management processes, as part of a COVID-19 special the Company ran to support boards in April.
One of the advocates is Woman on Boards founder and chair, Ruth Medd.
“It’s a new world and we won’t go back,” Medd said.
“These are hard times for management. They are checking in with remote staff, managing financial constraints, meeting with boards more frequently, reviewing building leases under new ‘work from home’ models, and reconfiguring business models. Anything we can do to support them, we should be doing – including adding tools that streamline the board process.”
According to Herkt, his company has signed up 400 new trial members in a month and continued selling and growing throughout the crisis.
“We saw 6 months worth of signups in a single month. We’ve also seen a 300 per cent increase in attendance of our board member training sessions,” said Herkt.
He said that COVID has exposed the weaknesses of governing with desktop tools and ad hoc processes and he suggested that such tools are not fit for purpose for remote meetings making critical decisions under time pressure.
Board members need documents at their finger-tips in a modern cloud environment and systems that minimise administration and maximise focus on key issues, he says.
He said one factor that has historically held back technology adoption in the boardroom are a generation of “digital migrants” that prefer pen and paper. These directors have resisted change for years, but according to Herkt COVID-19 has created an inflection point in the technology industry where business continuity and strong governance are imperative.
Both chair Jane Hedger and operations manager Donna Harvey, operations manager at Australia’s CEO Challenge, said technology adoption was a process for their organisation when signing up to BoardPro.
“Once everyone was on the same page with the new technology, everyone seems to be enjoying the raft of benefits from the central hub for all board documentation, to no more chasing logistical details and outstanding tasks,” said Harvey.
Hedger speaks of “resolving the difficulty with the old system including board documents scattered in different emails and difficulty for board members to pull up and reference documents in the meeting”.
Peter Burns, a director and trainer for NFPs, also found renewed productivity in the boardroom after adopting BoardPro.
“We see great people with great passion, but some show up to a board meeting with little more than a Powerpoint Presentation,” Burns said.
“We long considered developing a basic governance process on the Microsoft platform for our clients, but when we discovered BoardPro, I rang my business partner and said ‘Stop, I’ve found it – it’s got everything we need, it’s easy to use and it’s affordable.”