Five essential boardroom tools for the company secretary
As addressed in The Future of the Governance Professional, the role of the company secretary is changing rapidly. Company secretaries are dealing with more complexity and new technologies, as well as a faster pace of change. Operating in the unique space between the board and management, the role is viewed as the ‘trusted adviser’ to the board and the ‘conscience’ or ‘moral compass’ guiding directors.
With these diverse and complex responsibilities, the company secretary needs solid technology that can facilitate pressing demands efficiently and securely. Below are some key tools that your company secretary (and Board) should be able to access.
1. Secure messaging tools
It’s essential a company secretary is set up to use a tool that enables both rapid and secure communication. Too many boards still rely on email or apps such as Whatsapp to share sensitive information. This is dangerous, as the cost of a leak is approximately US $ 3 million, on average.
A secure messaging tool ensures that private individuals, stay private. By moving confidential board communications out of personal and corporate email systems, the company can be sure that there is an easy way to communicate with the right people at the right time.
2. Board meeting minutes software
Taking the board meeting minutes is a critical part of the company’s secretary’s job. Providing accurate minutes is a legally mandated responsibility, as it is the record of the meetings that will be consulted in court should the situation arise.
Meeting dates, lists of attendees and meeting topics may be added to the minutes document automatically. Action items can be added with just a few clicks, and assigned and monitored during or after the meeting. When the minutes are completed, they can be read in your next meeting book for discussion and approval by your board of directors.
3. Board management software
Board management software should be the driver behind the organisation’s governance.
It should enable them to manage their most sensitive board materials, collaborate anywhere they go, and participate in voting and resolutions quickly and easily. Company secretaries can easily manage agendas, annotations, documents, board meetings, create minutes quickly and securely. Directors can access real-time updates to board materials anywhere on their phone, tablets, computers or even offline.
The board management software should be easy to use, available on any device board members, and directors should be able to complete a questionnaire, ask questions, place votes, view board meeting minutes and more at any time of the day, anywhere in the world – with or without Wi-Fi, to ensure they can be pro-active in this fast-paced business environment.
4. Board assessment tools
As the governance expert, the company secretary must work with the chairman to manage board evaluations. Board assessment tools help your organisation answer these questions by providing the right data.
It’s a convenient alternative to cumbersome spreadsheets and off-the-shelf surveys, and it enables the board to do the work itself, making it more cost-effective than working with external consultants.
5. Conflict of interest forms
Evaluating a potential conflict of interest can be a minefield for any board, and its company secretary. Digital conflict-of-interest forms move director and officer reporting online, eliminating the time-consuming and resource-intensive process of assembling binders, mailing information and waiting for the return of signed packets. Company secretaries can save time, reduce errors and deliver a streamlined process.
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