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Online Portals

By: Bill Evers

Now, more than ever, bank directors are on the move — relying on laptops, mobile phones and tablets to keep in touch with bank business while on the road. Such technologies make it easy to connect from home, the office and anywhere in between; but if banks are relying on traditional paper packages for sharing important documents and reports, board members will have a difficult time accessing the information they need in a timely, cost-effective manner.

The process of preparing and disseminating sensitive bank documents can be a daunting task. Organizations spend days collecting, compiling and duplicating important materials. Once assembled, these packages must be distributed to board members in plenty of time to review the materials and prepare for any decisions that must be made. And mailing paper documents creates its own privacy concerns, because confidential information is now exposed outside the four walls of the organization.

To address these challenges, banks are turning to online board portals that allow authorized persons to post and access confidential company data from the convenience of their homes or offices. Instead of waiting for a paper package to be assembled and shipped, the necessary people receive instant, secure access to documents that are posted to the portal.

The portal should be fully compatible with Web browsers and mobile devices, enabling board members to bring their paperwork to board meetings on their laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Enhanced Security

While ease of access is important, security is always the top priority for sensitive and confidential board documents. Today’s top portals incorporate key security features to ensure only the intended party can access confidential materials. An extended security feature can enable users to limit who can view certain materials and allows directors to specify which board members or committees can access particular documents.

One security concern many banks have regarding online portals is misplaced or stolen devices, but banks can ensure compliance with security needs with a little planning and preparation.

It is prudent to develop corporate policies that cover every aspect of device use. The policies should include mobile device management, whereby the organization decides which devices will be supported and what level of access is acceptable for compliance, with options ranging from enforceable complex passwords, encryption or patching, and remote-wiping rules. Policies should detail an acceptable-use strategy explaining the ways in which board members may use their devices while using bank networks or resources.

To prepare for the worst-case scenario, policies must outline a plan in the event a device is lost or stolen. Board members need to know the protocol, including when and to whom they must report a lost item, as well as their rights concerning remote wiping or deactivation.

These preparations are often useful beyond board access, too. Many banks are allowing regular staff to use their own mobile devices on the corporate network, and these safeguards will provide stronger security for board use as well as employee use.

Save Money With Paperless Communication

Community banks also are finding board portals to be a cost-effective tool. It is extremely important for community bankers to be aware of the rising operational costs and reducing those costs whenever possible. One post to an online board portal eliminates the need to assemble packages for each individual board member, saving hours of preparation. Accessing documents online will also eliminate courier and supply costs, which can add up over time.

When you consider the cost associated with a high volume of paper consumption in banks, it is simple to see the opportunity to cut costs by going paperless. As more board members use the online portal, many find the convenience and portability of paperless reports more valuable than a stack of papers. 

Online board portals can be a cost-effective, secure way to streamline communications. Bring your board communications into the future while saving on supply costs and enhancing access to reports. 

Bill Evers is director of business development for Computer Services Inc., based in Paducah, Ky. For more information visit

Copyright (c) November 2012 by BankNews Media