As governance and compliance issues begin to take center stage, the role of college and university boards is undergoing a major transition. The alumni trustees who once made a barrage of fundraising phone calls to other alumni, donors and supporters have gone the way of landline house phones. Governance and societal issues have forced college boards to favor experts over alums in the boardroom.

The cost of college tuition has skyrocketed, causing high school students to question whether the job outlook after college will offer them the best return on their investment in student loans. According to a recent Forbes article, college enrollments have dropped for the last five years. Board discussions consist of how to compete with online education, the cost of healthcare for students, the cost of promoting sports teams, sex scandals, cheating, school shootings, alcohol and drugs, and much more.

Today’s college and university boards also need the expertise to keep up with the ever-changing governance and compliance issues. It’s become impossible to conduct board business on these issues and more without a board portal and a top-notch board service provider.

What Do College and University Boards Need in a Board Portal?

You only have to think about the problems that college boards are facing on a daily basis to know what services they need in a board portal service provider.

First, they need a well-organized board portal dashboard — one that tells you at a glimpse where to find important documents like your mission statement, bylaws, financial reports, reporting requirements and deadlines, and more. The right board portal service provider does more than hand you discs of software and then send you on your way to figure out the rest on your own.

A qualified board portal service provider has already set up dashboards for board portals for other institutions of higher education. An expert board portal service provider will know the differences in what private and public colleges need when they conduct business. The provider should know the common issues that college boards of directors are facing and should be able to demonstrate how various features on the portal can provide them with the information they need, in a format that they can easily understand. Board members need to know how to set up reports to track finances, aid in budgeting, analyze enrollments, track student demographics, and store information about trends and issues that affect higher educational learning, campus life and more.

A board portal can be of great assistance for board members. It can do even more when board members and board portal service providers put their heads together and design a working portal that truly meets all of the board’s needs.

The Right Board Portal Service Provider Meets the Mobility Needs of College Boards

College and university boards are arguably some of the most geographically diverse boards. For this reason, many colleges and universities allow boards to conduct at least some of their meetings virtually. Electronic board portals solve many of the logistics for board members by virtue of electronic board books and board portals. These tools not only save thousands of dollars in manually producing paper-intensive board books, they allow board members to have all of their entire handbooks, reports and other documents at their fingertips from California to New York and everywhere in between. There’s no longer a need to lug heavy board books across the miles when traveling to a board meeting.

The right board portal service provider will be happy to tell you about remote wiping and how that keeps board information secure when a mobile device is either lost or stolen. Essentially, the service provider will be able to erase everything from the device if it gets into the wrong hands.

In addition to the standard governance, nominating, audit and executive committees, college and university boards have committees for managing many other areas, such as academic affairs, admissions, financial aid, facilities, IT, financial planning and student affairs. College boards do much of their work in committees, and collaboration is a necessity. The right board portal service provider will set up functioning areas of the board where committees can conduct their business from wherever they happen to be. Committee members can communicate with each other, share documents, and send out document updates for rounds of approvals before sending final recommendations to the full board, all in a highly secure portal.

The Right Board Portal Service Provider Offers High-Level Security

Cybersecurity threats are increasing in size and frequency. The right board portal service provider will tell you about safeguards that prevent unauthorized user sharing. They’ll also be eager to tell you about such security features as encryption and other security features that stand up to rigorous third-party testing. An expert board portal service provider will also be able to explain its security certifications. With new breaches surfacing due to shared cloud servers, it’s also important to know where your board portal service provider is storing your information. The best board portal service providers will be able to explain whether your college’s board portal information is stored on a dedicated or shared server, and the location of that server.

Quality Training and Customer Service Are Staples of the Best Board Portal Service Providers

Board portals aren’t difficult to use, but a board portal that suits the needs of a college or university board will require board members to spend a little time in training on how to use it. Colleges and university boards will need a board portal service provider that will meet the training needs of board members in widespread geographical locations. Service providers usually have a variety of training modalities, including webinars, online classes, computer tutorials and one-on-one training.

Customer service is also an important component of a quality board portal service provider. Board members often work a day job, which means they are working on board business after hours and on weekends. If they have a question about using the portal, that time is wasted if they can’t get an answer to a question on user-ability. The best board portal service providers offer customer service with live agents 24/7, 365 days a year.

College and university boards have a tall order to fill in managing the college’s business and staying up to date with governance and compliance issues. The right board portal service provider streamlines a lot of the routine board tasks. This makes it easier for board trustees to focus on and tackle the numerous challenges that college and university boards face.