Roman Buehler
Board Innovator (Switzerland)

The rising popularity of board portal solutions in Switzerland

Out of all business sectors, small and middle-sized firms have been the ones who have most sought out the benefits of digital meeting support. As shown by a recent SHERPANY poll, respondents from secretariat, board members, and management have reportedly saved an equivalent of 25 days of work. All felt that the quality of the decisions made by executive committess has increased significantly, which can be attributed to better access to past and current information.

Board professionalisation and technological advances 

Since 2002, Boards of Directors have been steadily growing (as measured by membership), and this trend has continued on to 2014.  On average, the board of a mid-sized company is composed of 3,7 members. There is also a noteworthy tendency towards bringing in external board members and external points of view, so as to gain an outsider perspective on the course of business. As companies grow, the number of mandates exercised by Chairmen and other members of the board also increase. A division of work along committee lines (e.g. audit & risk committee or compensation committee), rising mobility needs, and multiple board mandates create new challenges for the existing way of doing meeting management.

"Ten years ago, board meetings would begin with an hour-long presentation reviewing business operations. Today, this can be done in a little less than 15 minues, as board members can check on the course of business on their systems. This frees up valuable meeting time which we can use to address important questions." - Martin Frischknecht, Executive, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Joint-Owner Clavis IT. 

"As an external board member I spend a lot of my time reading,  for instance, the documents I receive from management. I also read about the company and the sector. It’s all about reading a lot, getting informed, and using these insights to make the best possible decisions." - Urs Lauffer, Co-Owner Lauffer & Frischknecht. 

"There are legal formalities that must be adhered to, and which affect all aspects of business.  This can include demanding board meetings (which includes pro forma board lunches), making sure that organisational regulations are met, and that internal control systems are functioning. Risk assessments (in the case of smaller firms), transparency, and  comprehensive business reports are equally important."- Markus Diggelmann, Partner at Schoch, Auer & Partner, Attorneys at Law.

The abovementioned testimonies by board members give compelling reasons for the introduction of a board portal solution. Boards of Directors gain simple, quick, and safe access to their meeting documents and other important documents. Flexibility for session preparation increases, as mobile devices, such as iPads, can also be used offline, on-the-go and from anywhere to edit and manage documents. The testimonies and the statistics are derived from the latest BOD Study, and from a Study by the University of St. Gallen. Both are in German and can be found as attachments to this article.

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