Do you dread receiving those board papers that you know you’ve got to trawl through?

Are you annoyed with the all the acronyms and jaded with the jargon?

To make your board meetings effective and get your trustees engaged, it’s a major advantage if you’ve got a great board report to work with.

The fourth session on our Building Better Governance Scotland Programme focuses on just this issue, by investigating how to craft reports that enable your board to be confident in setting and monitoring strategic goals.

It reveals how reports, supported by summary dashboards, can ensure your board is well-run, with risks appropriately managed

There are three key features to a good board report. It should be:

  1. Timely – make sure your board reports are sent out in plenty of time for your trustees to read so they can make informed comments at meetings
  2. Concise and factual – trustees are busy people – remember they’re giving their time to your organisation for free. So please – no jargon or abbreviations, and get to the point!
  3. Cear about the decisions that are needed.Traffic light interface icons. Red, yellow and green (yes, no and standby). Thin line vector buttons.

For this last point, a useful way of presenting board reports is to use the ‘traffic light system’, with colour coding as follows:

  • red means trustees need to act now
  • amber means they need to watch and observe
  • green means there are things to celebrate!

Similarly icons or colour coding can be used to show what is:

  • for information only
  • for discussion
  • for decision making

You could even consider a‘consent agenda when a lot of the business needs to be read through in advance and then consented to quickly at the meeting. Trustees can ask for items to be removed from if they think they need further discussion. This can be an efficient way of getting things done, and is not a way for the board to just nod things through. The agenda should always be presented in a way that encourages critical thinking.

Oversight of the finances is one of the most critical responsibilities of any board, so it’s particularly important to consider how you present financial information in your reports. There should be explanations of what the figures mean, with illustrations of any wider trends or significant changes. A verbal summary can be particularly useful for trustees from a non-financial background, or for trustees who may have less experience working with organisational finance.

If you’d like to know more about crafting a great board report and Building Better Governance, you can reserve a place now for our Spring 2017 Building Better Governance Scotland Programme.