Microsoft SharePoint is used by multitudes of not-for-profit organisations because it is recognised as having expansive capabilities that can be customised to many use cases (plus lots of not-for-profit organisations have access to it at a discount).
It can provide solutions for collaboration, file storage, and content management within organisations of many types and sizes, but should SharePoint be used to manage board business?
Ultimately when the board of an organisation decides it is time to look at options for a board portal, SharePoint is often the one of the first options recommended by the IT team or advisor because the organisation already uses it internally. However it is worth the board seriously considering two key questions:
Can SharePoint be used as a board portal?
Should SharePoint be used as our board portal?
The answers to these question are nuanced (the super short answers for the time poor are 1. Yes 2. in some cases) and call for a deeper understanding of both the platform and the unique requirements of the board itself.
While SharePoint can technically be configured to function as a board portal, there are compelling reasons to consider a dedicated board portal software solution, like Our Cat Herder, as a more effective and user-friendly alternative.
The Pros of Using SharePoint as a Board Portal
SharePoint’s reputation as a multifaceted technology platform isn’t without merit. It offers several advantages that might make it an appealing choice for many organisations (especillay those with an internal IT team and big budgets).
SharePoint’s greatest strength lies in its extensive array of features. It provides a platform for team collaboration, file sharing, and content management, potentially making it a flexible tool for various operational needs.
SharePoint’s integration with the broader Microsoft 365 suite is seamless. If your organisation already uses Microsoft products, SharePoint can fit into your existing infrastructure, providing a cohesive user experience.
SharePoint’s high degree of customisability allows organisations to tailor the platform according to their specific needs. This can potentially be leveraged to create a board portal that aligns with your board’s unique requirements.
Unfortunately many of these perceived advantages are also dis-advantages when consider whether or not to use it as a board portal.
The Cons of Using SharePoint as a Board Portal
Despite its advantages, several factors counterbalance SharePoint’s utility as a board portal, making a dedicated board portal software like Our Cat Herder a more attractive option.
Lack of Specialised Features
SharePoint, though versatile and immensely configurable to almost any use case, is not specifically designed for board management. Consequently, it lack key functionalities that dedicated board portals inherently offer. Features like voting mechanisms, actions capture, streamlined board pack compilation, and intuitive meeting minute recording may not be available or may require complex (expensive) customisations.
Complexity and User Experience
SharePoint’s robustness and extensive feature set can lead to a complex and non-intuitive user interface (how intuitive it is can depend on the person or team configuring it).
Board members will find it challenging to navigate through the plethora of SharePoint features to find the ones relevant for board management. This complexity will result in inefficiencies and frustration among board members, detracting from their primary focus on strategic decision-making.
While SharePoint does provide built-in confidentiality measures, managing these settings can be intricate and time-consuming. In addition, there is a risk of accidental data intermixing (especially if the board portal area is in the same Sharepoint deployment as a the operational team, which is common) if permissions are not configured correctly, which can pose a significant issue to your board’s confidential information.
Many organisation choose to utilise Sharepoint only for their management team and have a then a completely seperate board portal like Our Cat Herder for the board to ensure there is a complete firewall between the two types of information within the organisation.
Need for Constant Support and Maintenance
Managing and troubleshooting SharePoint often necessitates a dedicated IT team or external consultants. This can be a challenge for organisations with limited resources and in not-for-profit organisations is going to divert these resources away from other critical areas.
At first glance, SharePoint may seem cost-effective, especially for organisations already using Microsoft 365. However, the hidden costs associated with customisation, training, and maintenance can add up, make it a costly option in the long run.
The Case for a Dedicated Board Portal like Our Cat Herder
Given the potential pitfalls of using SharePoint as a board portal, a dedicated board portal software like Our Cat Herder emerges as a more cost-effective, streamlined and user-friendly solution.
Tailored for Governance settings Our Cat Herder is specifically designed with board management and board members in mind. It offers built-in features such as decision making, action capture,discussions, efficient board pack compilation, and an easy-to-use system for recording meeting minutes.
These features directly address the unique needs of managing the administration of a board. There is almost no requirement in Our Cat Herder for extensive customisation (it is possible to have a new portal configured and running in less than 10 mins), ensuring a more seamless user experience.
One of the standout features of Our Cat Herder is its ease of use. This is absolutely critical for time poor board members who are not always technology savvy.
The Our Cat Herder Board Portal priorities simplicity and ease of use, ensuring that board members can quickly learn to navigate the system and access the information they need (if they can use Facebook and their email they can use Our Cat Herder).
This user-centric simplicity leads to significant time savings, allowing board members to focus more on strategic decision-making and less on system navigation.
Our Cat Herder takes data confidentiality seriously. It offers role based and granular access control and a straightforward approach to access settings, ensuring that board data is only shared with relevant people in your board. This gives board members the peace of mind they need to focus on their core governance responsibilities.
Unlike SharePoint, which often requires an internal IT team or expensive external consultants for support, Our Cat Herder offers dedicated customer support (at no extra cost, it is included in your yearly or monthly plan).
This means that any technical issues or user queries are addressed by a team of professionals who understand the platform, its application for board management and who have deep experience in governance and the unique requirements that boards have. This level of service can be particularly advantageous for smaller not-for-profit organisations with limited resources.
Cost-Effective & Transparent Pricing
Our Cat Herder has a simple and transparent pricing model. Your organisation pays per portal and there are no extra fees.
This includes regular feature updates, maintenance, support and training, making it a cost-effective solution in the long run. The predictable pricing structure eliminates the risk of hidden costs and allows organisations to better manage their budget.
What’s the verdict, should you use Sharepoint for your board portal?
While SharePoint can technically function as a board portal, the complexities and potential challenges almost always outweigh the benefits (unless you have plenty of time, money and an in-house IT team to manage your Sharepoint deployment).
A dedicated board portal like Our Cat Herder, designed specifically for managing board administration, offers a compelling alternative.
With its tailored features, user-friendly interface, dedicated support, and transparent pricing, Our Cat Herder is a comprehensive board portal solution that understands and caters to the unique needs of board management and importantly the unique needs and requirements of board members.
Choosing the right tool for board management is crucial. It can enable your board members to focus on their primary objective – making strategic decisions that help your organisation flourish in the future.
By considering the potential pitfalls of using SharePoint as a board portal and recognising the benefits of a dedicated solution like Our Cat Herder, organisations can make an informed decision that supports efficient, secure, and effective board management.
SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform integrated with Microsoft Office. Launched in 2001, it primarily functions as a document management and storage system, but its capabilities are highly configurable and its usage varies substantially among organisations. SharePoint is used for creating websites, storing, organising and sharing information.
What is a board portal?
A board portal is a online platform designed for board management. Providing board members with easy access to board documents, meeting agendas, minutes, and other critical information. It's also a collaborative tool, providing features for voting, annotation, and discussion. Board portals are intended to facilitate efficient communication and organisation among board members. Read more about Board Portals in this factsheet by Better Boards.
What is the key difference between Sharepoint and board portal software?
SharePoint and board portal software serve different primary purposes and are designed with different use-cases in mind. SharePoint is a comprehensive platform developed by Microsoft for intranet, content management, and document management. It's a highly versatile tool that can be customised for a wide range of purposes. Board portal software is specifically designed to facilitate management of boards. It provides specialised tools and features to enhance board meeting efficiency, such as document distribution, collaborative annotation, and voting tools. Board portal software is designed to be user-friendly, and focused on the unique needs of board governance, offering a more streamlined solution for board management compared to SharePoint.
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