Effective Board Reporting

High-performing boards rely on high-quality information, around which they form their judgements and decisions. Yet research from ICSA and Board Intelligence suggests that in many organisations board packs are a barrier rather than an aid. Too often they are dominated by inward- and backward-looking detail, rather than the sort of information that will help the board to plan its future strategy. Furthermore, the sheer volume of information that board and committee members are presented with makes it unlikely they can read it all, let alone absorb it or pick out the key issues.

ICSA and Board Intelligence have produced three resources to help organisations with the preparation and presentation of their board reporting:

  • A ‘cost calculator’, which will enable organisations to quantify how much time and money they spend on producing this information
  • A self-assessment tool that will enable organisations to assess the length and balance of their board packs and identify ways in which they can be improved
  • Guidance to help governance professionals and those who commission and prepare papers to address some of the challenges identified by this research.

Guidance

Both the calculator and the self-assessment tool provide organisations with a mandate for change, but our Effective Board Reporting guidance provides practical steps to bring about that change.

The guidance sets out a roadmap for those who want to provide their board with the very best information and insight. It is intended to be shared with the board and senior team and has been written with each of their perspectives in mind. Since knowing how to solve the problem yourself is only part of the challenge, securing a mandate to take the rest of the organisation with you is even more important.

The guidance consists of four sections, each of which deals with one of the main stages in the development of a board pack:

  • identifying the information the board needs;
  • commissioning board papers;
  • writing board papers; and
  • collating and distributing the board pack.

Download the guidance

Self-assessment tool

Once you have used the calculator to uncover the cost of producing your board packs, you can use a newly developed board reporting assessment tool to help you see if the cost you are putting in equals the value you are getting out.

The assessment tool allows organisations to assess their board reports in the following three areas:

  • Style – the quantity and accessibility of their reports
  • Scope and content – the quality and effectiveness of their reports
  • Process – the efficiency, security and timeliness of their board reporting cycle.

Try the self-assessment tool now

Cost calculator

The cost calculator allows users to uncover the hidden cost of board reporting to understand just how much time and money your organisation is spending on board reports.

Easy-to-use and free to access, the board reporting calculator covers the time spent writing, reviewing, compiling and distributing board and committee papers; and the time the board and committee members spend reading those papers. You simply input readily available information, including the number of boards, committees and members, the average number of meetings per year, the average pack length and how the papers are distributed. This data is then adjusted for size, sector and regulatory burden, generating a cost per year in pounds sterling or euros, as well as the number of days needed to prepare the board papers. 

Try the cost calculator now

Research

Earlier in 2017, ICSA and Board Intelligence surveyed 80 governance professionals representing organisations of all sizes and sectors on how board reporting (i.e. the preparation of reports and other papers that are discussed at board meetings) operated in their organisations. The aim was to understand the main challenges to effective board reporting, in order to identify actions that could be taken to assist organisations to address these challenges.

The Challenges to Effective Board Reporting research identifies the main obstacles to effective board reporting and paves the way to find solutions.

Download the research

Read ICSA Policy Adviser Chris Hodge’s blog about the research findings 

Further reading

Other ICSA guidance

Guidance

Effective Board Reporting

Research

Challenges to Effective Board Reporting

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