The Best 8 Free and Open Source Board Management Software
Have you ever wondered why in any organizational structure, the board of management is always at the helm? The obvious answer to this is that the board members play a vital role in the success of any organization. Moreover, the prosperity and future of organizations are largely dependent upon the rationality, efficiency, and integrity of their board members.
On 12th December 2019, Facebook announced that it will spend $130 million for creating an additional independent board to look after its content strategy and deal with the recent content criticism it faced by the Governments around the world. What caused the sudden need for spending a huge amount of $130 million for establishing an additional board apart from the existing one?
Earlier, boards used their influence, goodwill and past accountability to get through any adverse situations. Today, they have to face punishment and legal penalties in case of any negligence of duty on their part. Boards have to be more vigilant to satisfy the demanding investors and sensitive consumers. The boards have to work with the CEO and other executives to survive in an extremely sensitive and risky global business environment. In the world of disruptive business models and constant changes in regulations, boards have to be more competent than ever before. Moreover, the recent financial crisis around the world has necessitated the boards to be transparent about their fiduciary role. Transparency is demanded in board's dealings with the CEO, packages offered to people in the highest posts, compensation allowance taken by themselves and the framed policies.
To cope up with these situations that might undermine their effectiveness, boards have to gain technological upper hand. Only if they are well-equipped with technology then they can perform their roles and responsibilities in an efficient way. Organizations should use Board management software to provide assistance to the board members in their efforts to achieve the organizational goals. The board management software provides them the insights, competencies, and tools to fuel their strategic vision, gain transparency and improve their processes.
The roles and responsibilities of the board members are:
- To achieve the vision and mission of the organization
- To devise a strategic plan for the organization and establish its identity
- Create, suggest, approve, guide, and monitor all major policies, programs, and services of the organization.
- Ensure that the organization is equipped with adequate resources all the time
- Ensure compliance with global and local laws and regulations
- Ensure that their organization strictly follows the standard industry practices
- Take moral and professional responsibility of all the business operations and put organizational interests above their own professional and personal benefits
- Conduct regular board sessions and review all existing activities
While there is no doubt that the efficient execution of all the above duties by the board members will empower the organization as a whole, the board members themselves have to be well-prepared in advance to give their best performance.
What is Board Management Software?
Board Management Software or a Board portal is a collaborative tool that provides assistance to the board members for efficient management of their board. It redefines the board procedure by providing valuable tools and elements that assist the board people in carrying out their regular activities without hassle. It provides a secure environment to board members and administrators to execute their governance.
What role does Board management Software play in Corporate Governance?
- Dissemination of information:
The dissemination of information via a proper medium is very important for unhampered workflow communication. All organizations disseminate information either via traditional channels or modern channels. The medium is chosen depending upon the type of information organizations need to distribute. Phone, Text messages, Emails, Oral communication, Online outlets, Social media, Print publication, Notice, Memo, Display board, and many other modes are used to disseminate information within and outside the organization. Now, with the board management software, this becomes very easy as the software is capable of:
- Integrating with many of the above-mentioned modes to ensure the fastest possible distribution of information in real-time.
- Most of the information can be disseminated in an automated way with the help of Board portals.
- Preparation of Annual reports and other assessment reports:
Organizations have to prepare their 'annual reports' and 'assessment reports in various categories' for
- the efficient mapping of their qualitative and quantitative progress
- the shareholder’s information.
The Board portal keeps the record of everything that has happened in the board meetings, and it generates reports and analytics that act as a useful information source for the preparation of annual and assessment reports.
- Decision Making
The board portal offers a venue of seamless collaboration to the board members by:
- Allowing the board members to share documents securely during live discussions
- Keeping a record of past discussions
This helps a lot in the decision making process.
- Legal Compliance and Adherence to regulations
The board of management is the highest authority for any organization. The board members are responsible for all regulatory and legal compliance. Adherence to regulation is the first priority of all great corporations. The board management software has features to help with compliance risk management capabilities as it:
- Secures all high-quality board meeting data and it safeguards it so that it doesn’t fall into the hands of scammers or unscrupulous traders looking for insider information
- By keeping accurate records of all the happenings and actions taken in the board meetings, the board management software can produce MOMs, ATRs, etc. whenever there is an external audit.
- Accountability and Transparency
The board portal acts as a single communication point for all board members. It makes the board members more accountable and the proceedings more transparent as:
- It sends reminders and notifications of discussed topics and pending actions. The board members cannot claim to be informed late or misinformed as the portal ensures that everyone has access to the real-time and same information.
- It allows all members to share their views, irrespective of their physical presence in the venue. It also keeps a check on the extrovert-introvert imbalance by allowing the introvert members to share views freely. The improved and inclusive participation of board members facilitates representative governance.
What are the Challenges faced by Board Members?
There are instances of companies that had good businesses and great products, failing due to mismanagement by the board members. Mostly boards fail in their performance due to three elements: Individual elements, group elements, and organizational elements. Individual elements refer to the situation when the board member is unavailable most of the time during board meetings due to other personal and professional obligations. This happens mostly with the members who are involved with two or more than two companies. Group elements refers to the situation where board members are unable to coordinate their actions, for example, when members are unable to reach consensus for a meeting schedule, or unable to define the agenda with mutual agreement. Organizational elements arise due to firms’ complex structures. It happens with large organizations with multiple geographical locations and a large number of employees on board. In such situations, it is difficult to keep everyone and everything on the same page.
In addition to the above structural barriers, investment in board management technology causes even the leading organizations to fail in their duties.
All the above three issues can be resolved using methods that allow to streamline all processes, technology that has fast information processing capabilities and portals that can rejuvenate group dynamics among the board members.
What are the benefits of using a Board Management Software?
- Reduce unnecessary wastage of paper and stationery
The overall costs of paper and printing for organizations can be saved by shifting to paperless technology, such as board management software. Not only it saves costs, but it is also good from the environmental perspective. It also spares the board members from carrying and handling unnecessary files, hard copies, and prints.
- Speed up communication
The paper and print method of exchanging information is significantly slower than the electronic mode of communication. A board management software speeds up the entire organizational communication by getting rid of the unnecessary time wasted in taking prints and then delivering them to the intended people.
- No difficulty in scheduling meetings
The software has features that assist the meeting organizers in scheduling the meeting without any difficulty. Individual calls and separate messages seeking to ask the availability of board members for the meeting are no longer required.
- Effective team collaboration and increased engagement
As all the participants in the meetings, all the members that give suggestions, and all the policymakers, are on the same portal, the coordination between them becomes easy. The group dynamics improve, and team collaboration is facilitated. Also, the user-friendly interface of these portals appeals to the members more than papers, and they are more likely to engage in discussions that are now no longer limited to the boardrooms only.
- Improved governance
The ability to watch the organizational activities from a single dashboard improves the visibility and reach of the board members. With access to all documents from anywhere, they are well-equipped to manage the activities 24 by 7 from anywhere. This modern governance ability is beneficial for the long term sustainability of the organization.
- Secure documents
The board portal is a highly secure software that comes with high-end encryptions and other security features such as access control, virus protection, ransomware protection, password protection, etc. The documents and all communication is safe and secure with multiple layers of protection.
- Assisting in Board Meeting Life-Cycle
The board portal has features to take care of all the tenets of the complete board meeting cycle. See the below infographic to understand Board Meeting Life-Cycle:
What are the advantages of the Board management portal in group dynamics?
Board Management Software is a collaboration software. Such software are known as collaboration software as they have features to ease the work of the users working on common activities. In the proactive governance model, the board members speak as one voice for the organization, and they all collaborate to perform their roles and responsibilities. In this respect, the Collaboration software such as board portals can go a long way in building healthy group dynamics among the members. The asynchronous technology allows members to share their views on discussion portals and eliminates the need to answer immediately. This reduces anxiety, peer pressure, and also helps the introvert board members to share their valuable suggestions freely. This also keeps people with dominant personalities in check.
What are the features of Board Management Software:
- Board Management Centralized Dashboard:
Board management software has a centralized dashboard from where the members can view all activities of the board. All reports and analytics of the meetings and upcoming events can be seen on the dashboard.
- Electronic Voting and live polls
Electronic voting technology allows the board members to cast their votes electronically for all important decisions, and for a general understanding of other issues and reaching a consensus board can opt for live polls sessions.
- Agenda Builder
This feature helps in building and sharing agenda by allowing all members to collaborate on a single dashboard. Agenda builder may also have pre-built templates to drag and drop for excellent agenda building.
- Meeting Manager
The meeting manager tool lets the board control the actions related to meetings. It has pre-meeting and post-meeting features that assist in smooth conduction of meetings and completing post-meeting formalities. It lets board of management send and receive real-time email-notifications and reminders. It sends Minutes of meetings and other finalized documents to all members after the meeting.
- Organization directory and structure
Board management software can create an organizational directory that provides the list of board members, committee members, and other employees. It gives complete details of their current designation, job profile, roles, and responsibilities, etc. It is a database that provides you complete information about the organization structure.
A scheduler is designed to make it easy for the BOM to schedule meetings and sync related updates on the Board of Directors' personal calendar. This can also send them reminders about the upcoming meeting.
- Document Manager
This feature provides the board with tools to create, organize, and manage their documents properly. It has components for text highlighting, strikethrough, and underlining. It has a text annotation feature to add annotated text. It can also change the font size, alignment, and color. A document manager also assists in attaching, moving, and resizing images in multiple formats. It may also contain a freehand drawing tool to draw on the document file.
- Board Communication portal
The board communication tool acts as a discussion forum for the Board of Directors. They can communicate and discuss issues publicly. They can also form private groups within it. It also allows the Board to communicate with each other individually.
- Access portal on Multiple Devices
The board portal can be accessed on desktop, laptop, tablet, or mobile. Most of the board management software also have a mobile application that lets them access the portal from anywhere.
The list of 10 free and open-source Board Management Software:
- OnBoard Passageways
- Diligent Board
- Board Space
Comparison table of 8 Best Free and Open Source Board Management Software
4minitz is a free and open-source board management software that assists the board members in making the agenda, planning board meetings, and safeguarding related documents. 4minitz can be installed on the organization's own infrastructure, so they do not require to host sensitive information on the cloud. This enables organizations to specify their own security levels. It is available to use for free under MIT license.
- Users can create their own meeting series and invite other members for the meeting
- As every meeting has moderators, 4minitz software allows Board members to choose and specify moderators.
- Fill the agenda section with topics that will be taken in the next meeting
- Invite the other members to discuss the agenda and send the final agenda to other members
- The recurring agenda items can be specified and marked
- Option to mark the members who are present in the meeting
- Add items that require action and specify the names of the people who are responsible for it
- Add labels such as ‘Decision’ or ‘Action Taken’ to items
- Send the minutes of the meeting and action report via Email
- Search option to find topics discussed, labeled topics, non-closed topics, etc.
- Admin Mode: block users, register other members and broadcast messages
- Real-time updates for remotely located members
- Upload file attachments (doc, ppt, pdf) to minutes of meetings
- Agreedo (Free version)
Agreedo is a free board management software that lets board members plan, organize, and conduct board sessions effectively. It has a high-quality interface and best in industry security architecture. It works flawlessly with operating systems such as iOS, Android, Windows. It has powerful integrations with Google Calendar, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange sending timely meeting invitations is very convenient.
- Create and share agenda to participants
- Improves the agenda by allowing other members to add an idea, comment, or facts before the commencement of the meeting
- With one click convert agenda items into MOM
- Track all decisions are taken and action reports
- Assign tasks to members
- Schedule tasks within MOMs
- Search items, tasks, actions with Agreedo’s search feature
- Review the progress of currently on-going tasks
- Send automated reminders for pending actions or due dates
- Automatically schedules follow-up meetings
- Multiple Keyboard shortcuts available
- Boardmanagement (Free Trial and Free Demo)
Boardmanagement is a very comprehensive board management software. It has plenty of features that make it a complete board portal. Board members can manage their meetings, tasks, and documents easily by using this robust software. Its central dashboard lets users see everything they want to know about the position of their upcoming events, past events, and work in progress. It has an AES 256-bit encryption to protect your valuable data from attackers.
- Assign tasks, reorder work, get reminders, and fix due dates with the task manager
- Post announcements and ideas for discussions
- Embed images and files into the message
- Get a complete list of all board members and their information in one click
- Send a message to individual members directly from the profile
- Get notified about new meetings, comments, and discussions
- Get reminders about upcoming events
- Assign committees to board members
- Receive notification for assigned work and due tasks
- Live updates about all happenings
- Option to share only the required information
- Export information in multiple formats
- OnBoard Passageways (Free Trial)
Onboard Passageways is a board management software that provides the board members a vantage point to effectively plan their board activities. This board management software can manage your organization’s annual reports, corporate charters, corporate policies, and many more key documents in one click. OnBoard Passageways is compatible with web browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 and 11, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome, Firefox. The compatible OS are Windows 10 and Mac.
- Built-in annotation tools
- Highlight, draw or leave sticky-note
- On-board messenger to communicate internally
- Board meeting analytics: This feature equips the directors with analytics for a better understanding of their meetings' strong and weak points. It shows analysis in percentage terms that which sections of the agenda are getting more traction than others.
- E-sign documents
- Centralized Dashboard to access all information at one place
- Secure Voting and approvals
- Multi-board support for directors who are members of more than one board
- Offline access granted
- Targeted announcement emails for changes in time, venue, etc. of meetings
- Comprehensive search capabilities
- Diligent (Free Trial)
Diligent is a board management software that provides tools and insights to the board members for conducting their day to day activities. It works with Windows, Android, and iOS. Diligent has an intuitive interface and industry-leading security features. It is customizable according to the organization's requirements. It is widely used by both public and private corporations.
- Create and manage agendas, annotations, and other documents
- Assist in discussions of board meetings
- Real-time updates and offline mode
- Secure environment for collaboration
- Conduct board evaluations, surveys, and questionnaires
- Industry and company analytics
- High-security standards and encryption
- Easily grant/ restrict content
- Complete meeting management solution
- Company register to find all information regarding current board members, committees, etc.
- Boardspace (Free Trial)
Boardspace is an advanced board management software that is simple to use and allows unlimited members to access the portal 24 by 7. Board members can manage, organize, and secure their meetings and related data using this software. The software is updated every 2-4 weeks, and it comes with the robust SSL encryption for enhanced security. This is offered as a cloud-based SaaS.
- Take better minutes with boardspace minutes of meeting feature
- Track all previous actions, current activities through the dashboard
- Store documents safely
- Access control
- Search option to find documents
- Schedule a new meeting with options to set time, date, meeting type, location, links, and attachments.
- It provides meeting details such as approval of agendas, past minutes, committee reports, action review, etc.
- Modules with detailed information can be added to the agendas.
- Approval process control
- Member’s directory
- Simbli (Free Demo)
Simbli is a board management software solution designed to unleash the maximum productivity of the board members. It is a comprehensive board solution for effective governance. The core focus areas of the software are meeting, planning, policies, and evaluations. It makes the work of the board of directors easy. It removes the bottlenecks in team dynamics and provides competencies to the board to increase their productivity.
- Streamline meeting preparation
- Prepare agenda
- Secure access to meeting material
- Evaluation of strategic plan
- Make policies and collaborate on procedures in real-time
- Simbli assist in making board self-assessments, reviews, and evaluations
- Access approval through user roles and permissions
- Locate shared documents easily
- Modify documents
- Create and deliver the agenda quickly
- Align meetings to your strategic plan and goals
- Sort meetings by type, data, and more.
- Boardbookit (Free Demo)
Boardbookit board management software has a central, easy-to-use, secure board platform. Boardbookit focusses on constant innovation and integrated enhancements. It offers a plentitude of advanced features to manage your board. This collaborative software comes with a perfect blend of security, functionality, and optimizations. It is easy to navigate and simple to use.
- Board Meeting Management, Scheduling & Attendance
- Create, Manage & Collaborate on Electronic Board Books
- Publish News & Announcements
- Search users and filter by group
- Post a press release, announcement
- Control permissions for agenda items, document folders, votings and reports
- Securely Manage & Archive Board Documents
- Import existing agendas or create new ones with templates
- Easy and flexible ballot creations
- Detailed reporting
- Archive all relevant board documents
- Offline capabilities to access portal
We have included one more Board Management Software for discussion-Boardable.It is a popular Board management software with robust functionalities. Let us see its features in detail:
Boardable is an enterprise-level board management software that has robust features and utilities to lead your board management activities. It centralizes all communication between board members and secures all documents. It is a cloud-based software that improves board engagement by virtue of its sought after functionalities.
- Quickly build and share agendas
- Minutes Maker to record the meeting
- Use templates to build agenda
- Create a PDF file of the agenda which can be mailed to all
- Write and save notes and annotation
- Automate meeting scheduling
- Track assigned tasks
- Dashboard to see all scheduled meetings
- Calendar integration with Google, iCalendar, and Outlook
- Document center to hold all documents at one place
- Organize and distribute documents
- Upload files directly from Google Drive, DropBox, Onedrive
- Polls and voting for decision-making
In the fast-paced digital world, leaders equipped with the right technology can make a huge difference. The traditional paper system gave the board members the liberty to choose who will receive the information and who will not. With features such as 'content segregation' the board management software also provides the board members the same flexibility and ability to differentiate between the users. Board members can control the access of the electronic documents.
The regulatory authorities have changed with the times. They demand stricter adherence to corporate security measures and compliance in terms of accurate documentation. Also, for companies that plan to go public by stock market listing, it is a mandatory requirement to ensure that their data is kept safe and secure in the interest of the stakeholders.
The two-way interactive capabilities, engaging visuals, and offline syncing make the board portals an inevitable technological investment for the organizations. The board management software increases organizations' legal capacities and strengthens their ability to deliver the best corporate governance.
Readers can select any board management software discussed in this article for their needs. Before choosing the right board management software for your board, keep the following points in mind:
- Identify the issues you are facing in your board activities
- Decide upon the required features that you need in your board portal
- Decide upon the type of service you need (Open source, Cloud-based, Open API) and the type of OS you want it to run on (IOS, Android, Web browsers, etc.)
- Check if the portal is available in the mobile app form also.
- Check the quality and promptness of the customer support
We will be glad to get your views about the article in the comments section below. If you have utilized any of the free and open-source board management software mentioned above, then do share your feedback with us.