The summer can be a quiet time for crown corporations and their boards of directors, as directors, executives, managers, and employees take their summer holidays. For many organizations, it means sticking to a holding pattern, but it can also be a great time to reflect on an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, and where it has room for improvement.
The board of directors of a Crown corporation plays a pivotal role in separating day-to-day operations from ownership – in this case, the Crown. Boards oversee management, establish strategic directions, monitor the performance of management and strategy, and report to the Crown. They are responsible for the corporation following its mandate as laid out by Parliament and must be sensitive to the corporation’s obligations to the public. These principles are laid out in a guide to boards of directors of Crown corporations by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, but how do these questions apply to real scenarios?
How board documents are distributed and how board work gets done is one example. If they have not already, most boards in Canada are moving away from paper documents, which incur high costs for printing and couriering, and toward electronic distribution. This comes with its own unique risks and rewards. While it’s a convenient way to distribute important documents, electronic distribution also brings up a number of security concerns. Email, which was never intended as a secure technology, is not a responsible way for a crown corporation to distribute board documents. Similar risks exist with free file sharing services like Dropbox and Google Docs – which has recently become a popular means of spreading ransom ware.
Crown corporation boards need to look no further than the recent, high-profile ransom ware attack on the National Health Service in the UK, which was still causing disruptions a week after the attack. That’s where board portal software, sometimes called governance software, comes into the picture.
There are three main features that any good board portal should have: affordability, security, and customer support.
The board portal produced by Aprio has become a popular solution with major credit unions like VanCity and Hawaii State Federal Credit Union, publicly traded companies such as Telus International, and crown corporations like eHealth Ontario, the WSIB Ontario, Island Health, and the B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority. One of the reasons for its widespread adoption by healthcare organizations is the highly sensitive nature of their data. The security offered by Aprio Boardroom is on par with the most expensive board portals out there, but offered at a much lower rate, which makes it a good option for Crown agencies with a responsibility to the public. The vendor also offers generally superior support – customer support is available 24/7, so a real human is always available when an issue arises.
Whether you’re an administrator, chair, or director, learn about governance software and how it can improve the way that you conduct meetings, send documents, and work between meetings. Board portals should be secure, convenient, fully supported, and affordable. Crown corporations have an obligation to the public to find the most affordable, secure technology that will help their directors do their jobs more effectively.