A board report package, also known as a board pack, is a collection of corporate updates, metrics, KPIs, and financial statements that give context to a company’s health, performance, and perceived outlook.
What you include in your board report package is determined by your industry, most important key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and the needs of your board and investors.
How often should you have a board meeting?
Consider how often your board meets when creating your board package. It is entirely up to your management and investors how frequently your board meets, though most bylaws require that the board of directors meet at least once a year. If the company is confronted with a pressing issue, one-off meetings are called to address circumstances promptly.
Many businesses hold quarterly board meetings, though they can also be held on a more regular, even monthly basis. The frequency of your board meetings will be largely determined by the stage and maturity of your company. Start-up’s and other early-stage growth companies tend to meet more regularly to support the drivers and decisions that shape the company’s trajectory.
Check the bylaws of the state in which your business is incorporated, as different states have varying requirements for board meetings. Texas, for example, mandates that companies hold a board quorum at least once a year, whereas Delaware has no such specific requirements.
Consider the Needs
If you’re a founder or it’s your first CFO role, dealing with a board for the first time can be intimidating. To overcome this fear of a let-down, it’s critical you have your numbers and metrics accurate and accessible for meetings.
Although numbers are necessary for displaying trends and forecasts, not everyone absorbs or consumes information in the same way. Some board members will have a general or even advanced understanding of financial acumen, while others will require additional visual elements, such as charts and graphs that clearly show the relationship between metrics.
Board members and investors expect reports to include the most accurate and up-to-date information, regardless of how you incorporate your metrics.
Finalizing your board packs for the period only to discover that a chunk of your metrics are missing the latest sales update that the department head revised in a different spreadsheet version leads to inaccuracies and portrays Finance in an unfavorable light in the eyes of your board. Issues like this can be easily fixed and accomplished by visualizing your data in live charts, and directly feeding your data into Excel or PowerPoint.
On average, 62% of board members say they spend between 100 and 250 hours a year on their board duties, or 2-5 hours per week.
Board members are often active in executive roles elsewhere and want easy-to-understand metrics and reports to help them get the most out of the time they allocate to board duties. Therefore, it’s best to send your board packs well in advance of the official board meeting.
Your board members will be grateful for the extra time to look through the metrics, charts, and prudent company updates without compromising their busy schedules. We recommend sending board packs 48-72 hours before your scheduled board meeting to allow your board time to prepare.
What to include in your board package
A board package, board pack, or board report is necessary to provide board members and investors with visibility into your company’s metrics, strategies, and other updates associated with the overall mission. They also serve as a foundation for the agenda of the board meetings, leading to far more productive meeting outcomes.
When creating your board report package, make sure to include plenty of visualized data in the form of graphs and charts that are large enough to easily examine and indicate trends.
Include the following items in your board package:
- Meeting Agenda
Even if the board meeting spends most of its time discussing specific topics, you should always include a brief agenda to set the tone. An agenda can include topics for discussion, highlights from reports, approval items, and other strategic conversations in which the board should participate.
- Board Actions
Any updates or business activities of interest to the board that require their involvement should be at the forefront of your board package. This could include items like new appointment votes, options, or employee benefit expansions such as adding 401k matching.
- Previous Meeting Recap
Your pack should include a summary of the most important takeaways from the previous meeting, any consensus decisions, and any important initiatives that might be revisited in the upcoming meeting.
- CEO Executive Summary
This is a summary from your CEO highlighting recent accomplishments and milestones, as well as an outlook for the company’s upcoming forecasts, initiatives, and drivers. The CEO report should outline the company’s priorities and direction, with more strategic information provided later in the meeting (and package).
- Company Highlights
Include anything prominent or milestones achieved annually or quarterly worth sharing. This could include elements such as productivity, revenue targets, and budget utilization, among other critical topics of interest for your board.
- Financial & Management Reports
Your monthly financial reports are a wonderful place to start when putting together your board pack but don’t stop there. Forecasts, further analysis revealing trends, and comparisons displayed visually in graph or chart format enable the board to discern considerable information in a short amount of time, and their potential impact to benefit the company is further enhanced.
- KPIs and Breakdowns
Both the company and each department or business unit should have key performance indicators (KPIs). Metrics like client acquisition costs and lifetime value should be included if you’re a SaaS company, whereas inventory, productivity, and revenue per unit will be of importance to manufacturers. These goals help hold your team accountable while also giving the board visibility into departmental operating results.
- Strategic Solutions
Building off of the department highlights, you should touch on potential roadblocks and issues facing the Company. These should be accompanied by specific strategies to overcome pressing issues and achieve the objectives set forth. Roadmaps and timelines for new initiatives and product or service updates can also be included.
Automate management and board reporting
Creating a board package is a time-consuming operation. Countless metrics must be calculated, charts must be created, and strategies must be outlined. To gather all of the necessary data, project management and cross-functional collaboration abilities will be required.
That said, you can set yourself up for success by automating the production of financial reports. FP&A Software, like Datarails, centralizes financial and operational data from your ERP, CRM, HRIS, General Ledger, and other systems of choice and maximizes your understanding of your business performance, on-demand. Datarails allows you to create management reports and presentations that visualize your numbers without leaving the Excel platform you know and love.
In a time where digital transformation is on the rise and an increasing number of businesses are entering the analytical arena, making your business’s most precious insights as efficient, accurate, and informational as possible is critical.