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Brilliant board papers for effective decision-making and good governance

Young businesswoman working from home office with financial documents, notebook and laptop.

Well-prepared board papers are vital in equipping directors with the information they need to make effective, timely decisions.

But too often they are overwhelming in volume and information but still insufficient for good decision-making.

Substandard board papers can have serious consequences, with recent corporate crises highlighting information flows to the board as part of the failings.

To help ensure key decision makers are armed with well-written, relevant and accurate information, a Board papers guidance has been launched today by Governance Institute of Australia.

The new Board papers guidance outlines:

  • The purpose of board papers: they are the primary means by which directors gain the necessary information required to fulfil their governance role in organisations.
  • Tips on writing style for board papers: adopt a formal business writing style which is factual, dispassionate and, where possible, evidence based.
  • Tips on developing guidelines for board paper preparation: ensure papers contain key information for an informed decision by directors, but not so much information that the critical elements are obscured.
  • A sample board paper template.

Governance Institute of Australia CEO Megan Motto said the board paper process must be a part of a continuous cycle of improvement, whether you are in a listed or unlisted company, public sector organisation or a not-for-profit and regardless of the size of your organisation.

“The regulatory and legal landscape does not stay still, and neither should your board papers,” Ms Motto said.

It is essential to review your processes regularly. The corporate environment and board processes are under the microscope and change can be rapid and dramatic.

Ms Motto said it is imperative that the board offers some guidance in the development of board paper policies and guidelines.

“While no one wants the board to be weighed down in unnecessary detail, board papers are an area where directors need to set the tone around the type and format of information they require in order to carry out their director duties.”

Your organisation’s board papers also need to be able to stand up to third party scrutiny potentially from a regulator or court, Ms Motto said.

“Given the tumultuous start to the year for several corporations where failures in communication to the board was seen as partly to blame for failings, this is an area that no organisation can ignore. This new guidance is essential reading for anyone involved in the board paper process.”

Download the Board papers guidance

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