Crown Corporations perform a difficult and increasingly complex role in the Canadian economy. Directors must be accountable and engaged in order to meet challenges like increased competition from the private sector and growing public expectations for better management. Good governance is how chairs and secretaries oversee management and management’s implementation of the organization’s mandate. Often, independent directors are stretched for time and are involved with many different projects at once. Board portal solutions offer members a way to work, brainstorm, and vote between meetings. Administrators can manage document distribution, agenda updates, and meeting schedules without the headaches of couriers or the security risks of email.
The 2000 December Report of the Auditor General of Canada revisited the management of Crown Corporations since the amendment of the Financial Administration Act. The report called for stronger boards of trustees and further government control over corporate plans. This doesn’t make directing a crown company easy, but stronger, more thoughtful strategic plans start organizations down the road to efficiency.
Board portal solutions facilitate meaningful involvement in the selection and review of chairs and CEOs. Confidentiality can be a challenge with ad hoc communications systems that combine email and free file-sharing services. The platform built by the developers at software vendor Aprio includes digital rights management features that allow administrators to keep sensitive documents (such as management review) restricted and even hidden from users without access. Board portal software puts work in directors’ hands no matter where they are with mobile and tablet apps that function across operating systems, including Windows, iOS, and Android. Directors can also access documents offline as they travel with secure file downloads. Engagement is the cornerstone of good governance, and portal solutions make it easier for busy members to engage wherever they are and on their own schedules.
Crown corporations are obligated to make better strategic plans. The auditor general criticized many strategic plans for lacking long-term thinking and business objectives. Crown corporations have to balance their commercial objectives with public policy, and they are accountable for taxpayer money. When directors produce better corporate plans, they create organizations with clear objectives, priorities, and a strategy for implementing big ideas.
Directors using Aprio board portal solutions have access to in-platform survey and review tools that can open a dialogue between members who may be reluctant to speak up. Directors must work through dissenting opinions to create better plans, but often, less senior or experienced members keep their criticisms to themselves. Confidential surveys create an ongoing discussion between meetings.
The public holds crown corporations to a higher standard of accountability, even though many now face markets where private enterprises compete with government-owned companies. According to the Government of Canada’s guide for crown corporations, boards should undertake periodic reviews of its members based on their knowledge, conduct, abilities, and commitment. Many organizations require that their directors fulfill continuing education requirements, all of which can be tracked with the Aprio portal. Good governance is possible with simpler communication and accountability. Make it a reality with an upgrade to a board portal solution.