Board Portals: How IT Can Communicate Information, Demonstrate Value

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Seven Points CIOs Must Know About the Board of Directors

Seven areas that CIOs must understand and act upon in order to effectively work with the board.

IT managers and CIOs who want to improve their relationship with their boards will want to consider the advice recently provided by Gartner. IT Business Edge's Ann All writes that boards as a whole may be a little less clueless than they were a few years back, but they and their organizations can only benefit from more information and more interaction with IT leadership.


In this effort, Gartner recommends that you "devote plenty of effort to advance preparation so you can effectively present the most important points in your time in front of the board, which may be brief. ... concentrating on points that board directors truly need to know and providing reference materials. Also, don't spend time on technical minutiae. Make sure it is all in a business- and board-oriented context."


One way to provide that board-oriented information is through a board portal. Built correctly, such a portal would serve as a mechanism for IT to provide board-specific data, and for board members to further collaborate and share information. In addition, the tool serves as a hands-on demonstration of the technical, organizational and compliance-related skills that IT provides to the company, which is something that the board might not otherwise understand in such an intimate way. What better way to communicate with the board than to demonstrate value with a custom tool for this key user group?


In a download available to IT Business Edge users in the IT Downloads library, the "E-Governance Is Good Governance" excerpt from the book "Internet Management for Nonprofits," by authors Dottie Schindlinger and Leanne Bergey, provides justifications for board portals that are applicable to both nonprofits and for-profit organizations.


Off-the-shelf and homegrown board portal software would likely begin with these foundational features:


  • Personalized dashboards and alerts
  • Meeting materials and policy documents
  • Online collaboration and virtual meetings
  • Electronic voting and record keeping
  • Security and data recovery


Schindlinger and Bergey point out that, as with any implementation, identification of specific user needs and goals, and an organized introduction of the features to the users, are key to project success. After the initial implementation, a cycle of planning, research, rollout and evaluation will be necessary to keep existing and new board members engaged with the portal, and to keep IT's key roles front of mind.

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