The major failure of large companies such as Enron have some people wondering if the board of directors were competent or completely negligent. Yet, with review, they weren’t doing anything differently than most boards. Maybe that is the problem- most boards just aren’t running effectively. What are the biggest challenges boards are facing that are causing them to fail? What are some potential solutions?
The Board Members
Board members not attending meetings is a big concern. When this happens, the members that do attend regularly end up having a greater responsibility, leaving the board unbalanced in the resources the variety of members was meant to create. Lack of a centralized office for meetings can make already busy volunteer board members confused and unprepared, showing up at the wrong location without the proper planning or materials.
Board members are usually chosen for their skill sets, and yet if a high quality member leaves, the board can suffer as knowledge, processes and access to information usually leaves with resigning board member.
- The Solution:
People are busy and a process needs to be in place that creates a centralized place for members to keep track of important information. Even board turn over could create less problems if access to centralized documentation could be implemented. Centralized documents being available 24/7 for busy board member can create accountability while helping them accomplish the organization’s needs.
Inability to track registrations and deposits easily or being able to create timely and accurate financial reports causes problems with reporting to both government agencies as well as members. This can be frustrating at best, and can cause lost enrollments and money at the worst.
Reporting helps prevent fraud and aids in better planning and decision-making. Budgets can be created, tracked and managed only with correct and timely information. Unfortunately most boards don’t have access to this information and are making decisions without accurate data.
- The Solution:
A cloud based database can allow certain members to track registrations from anywhere and create reports relevant to issues at hand. Accountability practices with the database will create more financial transparency and treasurer turn over no longer will cause past data to be lost.
With volunteer board members, some of which are involved in the organization and some that are outside of it, can cause problems with shared materials. This can be a laptop with data, a binder of meeting minutes or even voting documents. These “traveling” pieces can easily be lost. When items such as individual receipts are being turned in by multiple members, it can be hard to track them all for a useful budget. Cash flow management, including paying bills, can be a long, tedious process, especially when the person who cuts and disperses the checks isn’t able to approve them.
- The Solution:
Online web based accounting systems can allow one member to approve payments while another disburses payment. This keeps in place a healthy check and balance of the finances, while creating an easier and more efficient payment schedule. Materials no longer need to stay with specific members, but can all be put into a centralized database for access depending on need. No more installing of software on each member’s computer… instead, all members can have individualized access to exactly what they need to perform their tasks.