Online meeting management tools have been one of the major growth areas over the last 18 months. Even as an experienced pension scheme secretariat, I’ve found there are many more providers than you’d expect and the range of offerings now available means that there really is an option to suit every size of scheme and trustee board. Online meeting packs makes the trials of emailing an oversized email attachment a thing of the past. Plus, most portals offer an app that can view the pack offline after downloading if no secure wifi is available. However, good meeting pack management is still essential to ensure trustees aren’t overwhelmed by the volume of information.
Proactive management of meeting papers, executive summaries and decision trees are also part of the process.
Choosing the Right Option For You
Some top tips to consider when choosing the best option for your trustee board:
What does it need to do – think about what you need the online portal to do?
- Will it be for the trustees to access meeting packs?
- Is it to be a library for scheme information?
- Will it be your replacement for emails for decisions to be made, such as member trustee discretion cases?
Consider your secure access needs – most, but not all, provide different access levels to be set so you can be in control of who sees what information. This can simplify an audit process for example where access can be granted to the auditors to collect the required documents directly. Also consider the access rights to file documents, as scheme secretary, it is useful to be able to file documents, a right not always granted by in house systems.
Turbocharge your scheme library – having your scheme information in a library makes for a seamless onboarding process for new trustees. An added bonus of introducing a new system is the opportunity to spring clean your existing documents ready for upload. Any online system is only as good as the filing system, not just at the outset but also on an ongoing basis and is a key part of our role.
Think about advanced search capabilities – the ability to search for keywords within documents is such a useful feature to look back to find x y or z, although it can be quite disconcerting to discover how quickly the years are flying by. Some systems can search through a variety of different images, so scanned documents, PDFs etc are all accessible.
Think about your data security – data security can be enhanced as it is all managed from within the portal and there is less risk of sensitive information going astray. However, it is also important to undertake the due diligence of the back office system and the data protection processes in place from cyber-attack. Not just regarding the loss of data but also the loss of access to information. Portals not being accessible, history of downtime, backup provisions are all essential to the ongoing delivery of trustee business.
These are just some of the key areas we consider when working with trustees. What is clear is that this is an area that is continually evolving over time. Online portals can be the foundation of good governance and as ever with technology, using them to their full potential is often a work in progress.