Directors and management commonly ask company secretaries for copies of past board papers. Without clear documentation, sound processes, and capable technology, sifting through months – or years – of old reports can take hours.
The company secretary is a pivotal connection between directors and management, but does not function as a bridgekeeper.
An adequate company secretary forms the information directors receive and valuable valuable insights as a trusted adviser. They anticipate the needs on both sides of the boardroom table and establish consistent and efficient processes to meet them.
Requests for information and management of directors alike and can be the bane of company secretaries’ lives.
Tracking and approving time and can be a frustrating process. It’s often framed as an urgent request, putting extra pressure on busy company secretaries. Here, we provide some tips on how to take the pain out of the hunt.
Version control to Major Tom
While this may be the case, it is the final version of the concept that is provided to directors, rather than one of (potentially numerous) drafts. Similarly, seeking a copy of the relevant minutes of the meeting provides certainty about the exact wording of the resolution.
Flattering as it may be considered the font of all knowledge on board matters, it is not always convenient.
Giving authorized management and their assistants access to a system that clearly indicates the final version of board documents. This could be via a specific file on the internal shared network drive or document management system, with appropriate restrictions applied to protect information from curious eyes and avoid inadvertent editing or deletion.
Alternatively, using board management software is an ideal solution that puts the final versions of papers, policies and approvals at your fingertips. This also provides the advantages of setting up individual documents or users, establishing stronger and more flexible access controls.
Teach company directors to fish
Directors and management often depend on the company’s secretary to supply them with copies of previous papers or minutes. Sometimes it’s just way to get the information, but it’s often easier than tracking it down.
A solution that enables directors to manage what they need in less time than it takes to call or email the company. It puts them in the driver’s seat, giving them immediate access to information anytime and anywhere.
Reducing the number of requests that requires input to the company’s secretary enables them to focus on higher-value activities, creating a virtuous cycle that feeds back into the business.
Diligent’s board management software has powerful search functionality that quickly locates information. The search results contain embedded document links so users can easily review the information they need without having to open them.
Finding the needle in a Haystack
Company secretaries play an important role in corporate memory, and there is always some information that they need to track down.
It’s a lot easier to locate something when you know what you’re looking for. Vague requests for a strategic project approval from two or three years ago require diving in the rabbit hole of historical information without a clear destination.
Planning in advance pays off by delivering savings in the future.
- Use consistent language
Consistent language makes it easier to find all the information on a topic. Calling a spade a spade every time means avoiding the risk of missing relevant information because it is referred to a shovel or a digging implement.
From project names that change over time to different ways of spelling or abbreviating key terms.
- Establish a central reference point
A minutes register contains all the resolutions a board has made. It provides a single source of reference to locate past approvals within a single document rather than across multiple files. The minutes register is updated to reflect the final approved minutes for each meeting. It’s often set out in a table or spreadsheet that can be filtered, sorted or searched.
Having a central point of reference when doing so.
Ask questions first and avoid regrets later
All super heroes know that with great power comes great responsibility. Company secretaries are privy to organizations’ most sensitive commercial and strategic information. They need to ensure it’s been safely and safely.
There are two risks that can arise from requests for board information, and they both come down to access.
First, there’s the risk of sensitive information. The confidentiality of board reports and minutes means access to them must be protected. Even the CEO and the senior executive team typically have some restrictions, such as remuneration and performance matters.
This risk is heightened when information requests are handled as an administrative matter, without full appreciation. The focus is on finding what’s been asked for, rather than looking at what else might be so there and the appropriateness of that being shared.
The second risk is one of the simplest and most annoying issues to encounter: password protected documents. The document can be found, but it can not be opened.
Specific passwords are often applied to confidential proposals or transactions. They’re closely guarded, known only by the project team and the most senior people. But those passwords can be forgotten when the project fades into history and people move roles.
Effective data security .
Access levels in Diligent’s board management software can be adjusted for individual meeting items, right down to individual agenda items and users. Specific documents and projects can be restricted, meaning that users have the freedom to search within boundaries, and can only see what is permitted.
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