Digital board: With digital training on the agenda

With roles on 27 boards and chairperson responsibility on half of these, Erik Lund possesses a great deal of experience and expertise on digital board work. At the request of Admincontrol, Erik shares some tips here regarding how to facilitate an efficient and well-functioning board.

7.November 2022
Written by Admincontrol

Blog post written by Erik Lund

When I consider joining a new board, one of the things I do is carefully review historical board papers and gain more knowledge about the company. I will then introduce myself to the board members and owners in order to gain an impression of the people behind the company. I am also very interested in learning how far the company has progressed digitally.

Every company has been impacted by the digital wave in recent years and the vast majority have implemented digital systems to streamline the business. What surprises me is how management often forgets the importance of training. It is absolutely essential to set aside time and resources to train users and this also applies to board members when it comes to new systems for the board.

Most people will feel a sense of inadequacy if they don’t master something. A company cannot afford to invest in new systems that are not used. This is a waste of both TIME and MONEY.

Nothing is sacred

There are, of course, many other components that contribute to establishing an efficient and successful board. By this I mean there must be scope to discuss absolutely everything –   including unpopular issues.  Nothing should be sacred.  It is also critical that all board members trust each other.

Thus, an optimal board composition is essential. It is easy to choose board members who are similar to oneself. However, over the years, I have learnt that it is essential that a board possesses broad and complementary skills; different types of people who can play to each other’s strengths.

My best advice for a digital board would be:

  • Focus on openness and trust
    –  Internally between the board and the administration
    –  Internally between board members
  •  Prioritise a broad range of skills
  •  Implement digital systems
  •  Allocate time for training, where necessary

If all this is in place, I believe the proper conditions exist for creating an efficient and well-functioning board.

Three tips on how to raise digital awareness among board members:

1: There’s no such thing as a stupid question:

Regardless of their level of education and experience, board members can also be reluctant to pose questions. Make it clear to board members and other administrative employees that they will receive thorough training during the implementation of new digital systems.

2: Everyone on board:

No-one can learn how to use new tools if they haven’t tried the tools themselves. Collective training of board members and task resolution in a plenary session can be key.

3: It takes time:

Never underestimate how long it might take for the entire board to feel comfortable with the new tool. Set aside the necessary time to learn the system properly. The need for repetition is often undervalued.

Increases security, efficiency and control

Once board members have been properly trained in using the board portal, we see a wide range of benefits. I use a board portal on virtually all boards on which I sit  – something which has raised the level of security, efficiency and control. If this tool is not in place when I am appointed chairperson, then the digital board portal is one of the first things to be implemented.

Some of the benefits of using a board portal on the board:

1: Security:

I am constantly surprised at the number of people who send sensitive board papers via post, courier or email. None of these methods offer any guarantee that the papers will reach the right persons.  If you use a digital tool like a board portal, you receive an acknowledgement that the papers have been delivered, meaning you can be confident that they have reached the right person.

2: Control:

Board papers are the company’s most important papers and it is essential that they are not misplaced. In a board portal, all documents have the board member’s name, as well as date and time – something which helps prevent unwanted distribution of board documents. The board portal also offers greater control over who has opened the document.

3: Effective:

If you only have paper versions of board documents, finding the precise information you are looking for can be a time-consuming task. When you use a board portal, everything is saved chronologically and is searchable in an archive, thereby saving you from having to search through hundreds of emails. If you are in a meeting and need older board papers, they are easily accessible.

4: Flexible:

The board portal offers functionality such as e-signing, meaning you are no longer tied to the office and dependent on access to equipment such as printers and scanners. Also, the board portal enables everyone, at short notice, to update themselves about new challenges so that subsequent decision-making processes, where necessary, can be implemented quickly, even if board members are on the move. In this way, unwanted delays in decision-making processes can be avoided.

For more on this topic, we suggest our guide on how to accelerate digital literacy in the booardroom:

Click here to download 3 steps to accelerating digital literacy in the boardroom | MoF