By Dorcas Karuana, 

Mounting stakeholders’ expectations, challenges faced by companies to operate under fluctuating economic conditions, pressures of globalization and increased regulatory requirements have brought the quality of performance of the Boards of Directors under greater scrutiny.

In Kenya, the Code of Corporate Governance 2016 requires a formal annual assessment of the effectiveness of the Board, its committees and that of the contribution of each individual directors, the Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer and company secretary to that effectiveness (Capital Markets Authority). In addition, a write-up of the evaluation process should be provided in the annual report.

Why have Board Evaluations

Simply having competent people of goodwill around a boardroom table does not necessarily result in an effective functioning board. Issues of structure, processes, and behaviour can detract from or add to the effectiveness of a board. According to a study by Delliote, 2014 on Performance and Evaluation for Boards and Directors a properly conducted board evaluation will help to flush out these by assessing matters such as:

  • Does your board meetings allow enough time for governance review, or if governance tends to be squeezed out of the discussion by ongoing business issues?
  • Are discussions open, frank and constructive, with all views considered, or are they dominated by key players?
  • Is the information provided to the board by your management is timely, appropriate, and sufficient and in a format that will foster a healthy review?
  • Do the board committees work efficiently?
  • Is the composition of the board optimal in terms of members’ skills, knowledge and diversity of experience, and outlook?
  • Would training help to remedy any identified weaknesses?

The Board Evaluation Process

In the conduct of their board assessments, the majority of companies in Kenya use internally prepared questionnaires or open boardroom discussions, and the chairman’s or nominating committee’s evaluations of board effectiveness. These methods do not offer confidentiality in Director’s responses hence lack transparency. More so, the whole process is labour intensive, time-consuming for board administrators costing the companies hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in resourcing; printing, distribution and labour.

Using an External Facilitators

A survey by the Institute of Directors (IOD) Kenya, 2015, shows that most boards continue to rely on internal assessments. Only 28 per cent of responding companies engage an external facilitator or consultant to help coordinate the process. An even smaller percentage use external support for assessment of board committees.

While external consultants can be seen as independent, using one consultant over a period raises objectivity questions due to possible internal interferences. Considering that these companies spend two months from the time they engage a consultant to draft questionnaires, administering them through to submitting a final report, this process costs companies between of $10,000 to $25,000.

Targeting Areas of Assessing Your Board Effectiveness

The Board performs three major roles in a company – it provides direction (i.e. sets the strategic direction of the company), it controls (i.e. monitors the management) and provides support and advice (advisory role). Board evaluation typically examines these roles of the Board and the entailing responsibilities and assesses how effectively these are fulfilled by the Board. The effectiveness of the Board depends on a variety of factors, some of which are:

  • Board Structure: its composition, constitution and diversity and that of its Committees, competencies of the members, Board and Committee charters, frequency of meetings, procedures;
  • Dynamics and Functioning of the Board: annual Board calendar, information availability, interactions and communication with CEO and senior executives, Board agenda, cohesiveness and the quality of participation in Board meetings;
  • Business Strategy Governance: Board’s role in company strategy;
  • Financial Reporting Process, Internal Audit and Internal Controls: The integrity and the robustness of the financial and other controls regarding abusive related party transactions, vigil mechanism and risk management;
  • Monitoring Role: Monitoring of policies, strategy implementation and systems;
  • The Chairperson’s Role; and
  • Supporting and Advisory Role

The evaluation of the performance of the Boards is essentially an assessment of how the Board has performed on all these parameters.

eHorizon eBoard Evaluation Assess Your Board’s Effectiveness

Examining so many areas of competence can be labour intensive and time-consuming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Board management software solutions create a process for board evaluations that is far less time-consuming than manual processes. Board assessment tools like eHorizon eBoard Evaluation allow boards to save questions from year to year to evaluate and compare effectiveness progress over time. The whole board evaluation process is standardized making it easy to compare and contrast results.

eHorizon eBoard simplifies board evaluations process by allowing board administrators to use pre-designed templates that can be customized to various formats for the questions.  It’s easy to use features allow the board administrator to pull up readymade questions, review them for relevancy and once ready simply click on the names of board directors and shares with them all at once

The evaluation tool is intuitive and mobile-friendly. Board directors have the option of starting the evaluation at their own time, saving it and completing it later from anywhere then submit their responses at a click of a button. What’s more, the increased confidentiality of eBoard brings transparency to the director’s responses.

Administrators can easily track who has opened their questionnaires and get notifications when evaluations are completed and submitted.

Insightful Board Evaluation Results 

Once all the results are in, board administrators can pull all the information together in a few clicks. The program automatically creates charts, graphs and other visuals so the information is easier to digest and analyze. Board administrators can even download the results in various formats to use during presentations. eBoard Evaluation tool has been used by over 3,500 trusting board directors and executives across Africa and the Middle East since 2012.

The writer is the Marketing Communication Manager at Software Technologies Ltd.

“Moving from email distribution to eHorizon eBoard has brought transparency, security of confidential board information and our board members are more organized. We no longer have to bear with Directors asking ‘did you really send? Everybody gets whatever is sent in the same format and the board administrator can track all documents. Board members can now access all board materials from one central place.”
Elias Mwaura, Board Member – CITAM

Industry:  Religious Organization
Solution: eHorizon eBoard

Challenges

  • Arranging and organizing meeting materials
  • Distributing board materials in a secure manner
  • Emailed documents getting lost in inboxes or not being read
  • Version control of documents
  • Moving board communications out of personal and corporate email systems
  • Moving storage of board materials out of personal computers
  • Member collaboration confined to boardroom meetings
  • Projecting of minutes and packs during board meetings

Solution

  • Simple “drag and drop” board pack creation
  • Instant sharing of board materials within a secure app. • Audit trails and email controls to block forwarding and “copy and paste,”
  • Harmonized update of last-minute revisions
  • Secure messaging and sharing of board information
  • Easy to search and access digital storage of board materials
  • A real-time collaboration of board members
  • One intuitive secure board portal for digital board meetings

BACKGROUND

Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) is a mission’s oriented Pentecostal church with business interests in education, media and recreation facilities. CITAM has 18 church branches located countrywide. Its businesses include 5 Academies, Hope FM, and TV as well as a camp. Since 1960, the church has experienced continuous growth to the current over 30,000 members and over 300 employees.

CHALLENGE

CITAM is one of the largest churches in Kenya. The governing board, the Council comprises 7 council members who meet every quarter. Supplementing the council is the Board comprising 11 members who meet every two months, and board committees with meetings held on a regular basis. Additionally, there is a Senior Pastors Board with 20 members who meet eleven times a year.

Board members need to receive and review board papers ahead of each meeting, which means the board pack needs to reach every Director in advance. To make this happen, the administrative team shared each committee reports as it came in on an ongoing basis and later collated the vast amounts of the reports into a board pack put on a laptop and project it.

Emailing of board materials often disorganized the Directors and some documents would get lost in inboxes. “Normally, emails have a way of mixing especially if you receive too many emails and some get lost in between,” explains Sarah Njuguna, the board administrator.

Board members made their comments on documents separately on notebooks and they had to wait till actual meeting day in order to share them with other members.

Each board member had to have own system of keeping their documents for future reference. In addition, version control as some documents could not open on some machines required the administrator to keep resending documents in a version that can open.

This was not an efficient and secure way to produce board materials. Furthermore, it was a huge task for some of the Directors, especially those with no system of keeping documents in order to ease reference. So, they were more than happy when in mid-2016, they went digital with eHorizon eBoard.

THE APPROACH

The Head of ICT for CITAM, Joshua Ogacho, oversaw the tremendous task of finding the right board portal vendor. He looked at three vendors. One of them was a foreign company and the other two including Software Technologies, were local companies. CITAM was looking for an intuitive, customizable and user-friendly solution for its board’s digitalization.

They also wanted to provide board members with a flexible tool allowing them to annotate modify and share comments in real time and without having project minutes during every meeting.

After looking at what other vendors’ offerings were, Elias Mwaura, a board member explains the biggest advantage eHorizon eBoard was tried and tested ready-to-use software. It had all the features that board members could possibly look for. “There is a very big difference when a product is mentioned and you are told this is what it does, and when someone comes and literally shows you this is what you can do with it. We got to understand what the ICT Manager was drumming all the time,” he says.

RESULTS

eHorizon eBoard lessened the amount of time in creating the board pack folder in the way it had to be prepared. We can now do it in minutes. Additionally, committee reports can now be uploaded on eBoard on an ongoing basis with notifications sent to all Directors who can access them from anywhere, any time.

Board members are more organized. The can access all documents from a central place within the eBoard app; hence do not require a personal system of arranging documents sent on email on their computers.

Our meetings are now shorter and productive as Directors can comment on documents, share notes and communicate privately with other board members beforehand.

 “The beautiful thing is that each Director can access eBoard on iPad. If I annotate a document each one of them will see it immediately even without internet connection. We no longer project our minutes or wait to share our comments with other board members during meetings,” explains Elias Mwaura, board member.

Referencing to past material is now easier as board members can instantly search and access resolutions and items discussed in previous meetings. “Every item has a minute number. If you want to reference something on eBoard, you only need the date, title or other search terms.

On the day of the first live board meeting, eHorizon Board customer support team was on high alert to ensure a successful meeting.  “It went very smoothly,” said Elias. “In fact, all the Board Members were very happy and comfortable using eHorizon eBoard.”

With close to a year of being online with eHorizon eBoard, CITAM is very satisfied per Elias. “In the beginning, one of the things we also heard before choosing eHorizon eBoard was that they provided personalized services, and we found this to be very true. And, we were really amazed by the eHorizon eBoard solution – it is so simple and easy to use.”

About the Author
Dorcas Karuana is the Marketing and Communication Manager at Software Technologies Ltd

By Dorcas Karuana,
One of the biggest business revolutions in history is happening nowadays: the digital transformation of companies across industries. Digital environments democratize opportunities for both small and large organizations, as they are openly accessible. Organisations have found in innovation a new engine for the road to success.

To achieve this goal, businesses must invest in emerging technologies; embrace innovation and maximize their capacity for adaptation in all layers of their business, especially their executive teams. Digital transformation is the strategic opportunity to incorporate new technologies and processes so that the business becomes more efficient and open to new opportunities. Companies like Facebook and Whats App grew to be among the biggest companies in the world in less than a decade thanks to digital technology.

What is the path towards Digitizing Meetings?

Digital meeting management is gaining space in the meeting management area for companies in Kenya. The possibility of implementing new technologies to traditional meetings is not a new idea. Many organizations have taken a step toward the digital boardroom by emailing PDFs of board documents or having members access a file-sharing or public cloud service (compared to a privately hosted board portal service). However, these came as a first technological wave. Now, we have specific digital solutions that integrate everything in a one-and-only product.

Whatever the main goal is, efficiency or cost reduction, digitization can involve redesigning processes and redefining roles and functions. This entails not only taking into account the culture and structure of the organization but above all, accompanying both people and teams in the development of new skills

Digital tools bring clear benefits for both the Board administrator and Directors and are a valuable asset for Board meetings. First, with more company directors becoming comfortable using tablets, including iPads there is an opportunity for digital apps to help make board meetings more efficient, organized and productive.

In addition, digital solutions are helping tackle the main challenges boards face today; ensuring the preparation of meetings and provision of pre-read material in less time and in simple ways, instead of the paper-based approach. Meeting materials can be assembled into board packs in minutes saving several days of work and time for administrators and tens of thousands of dollars per years in costs for printing, binding and distributing hard copy board packs.

Another benefit of digital solutions for the board is increased flexibility because it is easier to enhance, modify, add or update documents. Directors are always viewing the most recent version. One of the greatest mistakes that most CEOs make is to spend time during board meetings giving updates. While bringing your board up to date is crucial, such updates can be sent beforehand so time is only spent on discussing action plans. Sending updates in advance also gives our board members time to digest on the information and think through issues and of course, we know that any meeting is more fruitful when everyone comes prepared!

Additionally, the meetings’ participants can be reached and they can access their files anytime, anywhere; administrators can monitor whether the information aimed at participants actually reached them. In addition to securely sharing board packs, Board Portal technology seamlessly integrates with calendars and email for voting and approvals eliminating courier distribution of board packs.

Digital solutions also allow boards to share information and collaborate easily. Directors can privately share their thoughts and annotate Pdf documents using highlights, sticky notes, and voice notes. Additionally seamlessly integrate with calendars, and email for voting and approvals

Improving efficiency and productivity in Board Meetings and enhancing Collaboration 

eHorizon eBoard is a subscription-based service that allows boards to share information and collaborate. It provides secure digital storage of the documents used by an organization’s board of directors, including reports, spreadsheets and exhibits for the next board meeting; archives from past meetings; board resources such as the bylaws, committee charters, and succession plans, and board calendars and directories.

New features provide boards with an opportunity to make meetings more prepared and therefore more efficient. For example, eBoard portal makes it possible for directors to poll board members on ideas prior to meetings. This allows directors to gauge opinions on proposals prior to meetings. Directors and executives can then prepare responses and hold meetings with a grounded understanding of the current state of play.

Lastly, new technologies improve the way we conduct business meetings in the future. Have you heard of Virtual Reality (VR) technology? This one example of the type of technology in board portals that could improve productivity in meetings, by allowing participants to effortlessly join an online meeting and communicate with peers from anywhere in the world with one click of a button.

About the Author
Dorcas Karuana is the Marketing and Communication Manager at Software Technologies Ltd. 

Graphic / Web Designer Jobs 2018
Software Technologies Limited (STL) develops industry-leading software solutions that empower our customers to drive increased revenue, find savings, improve compliance and mitigate risks. Since 1991, STL has developed its own products under the eHorizon brand that today comprise over 25 modules offered on SaaS model. STL has implemented solutions across various business verticals to over 500 organizations of all sizes in Africa and the Middle East.

Our dedicated team forms creative energy that turns imagination into realization, fueling new advances, modern approaches, and innovative solutions for managing People, Processes, and Governance.

We are now hiring a creative Graphics/ Web Designer who will join our marketing team.

Salary: Negotiable based on skills and experience.
Reporting to: Marketing and Communication Manager

Job Purpose:

This position is responsible for overseeing the design of graphic material and web development requirements of the company across all divisions.

The job holder shall work closely with line managers to discuss business objectives and requirements of the various departments and translate the requirements into quality design work.

Duties and Responsibilities

Graphics Design:

Design artwork for print material required by the company e.g. flyers, brochures, posters, calendars, logos, product illustrations and presentations
Design content required for web and social media purposes such as mail shots, e-banners, landing pages, postings and updates and videos.
Be aware of emerging technologies in new media to ensure quality design output at all times.
Developing a library of branding internal communication templates
Submit regular reports that relate to all graphic design and web design/development tasks upon completion and implementation.

Web Design & Development:

  • Website Maintenance by installing extensions (components, modules & plugins) e.g. security, fixing errors, regular backups, granting access to other privileged users/admins, etc.
  • Update, populate and implement relevant content, updating outdated content, coming up with a relevant write-up / graphic material and product upload.
  • Write code specific for a given objective/function on the website: using basic HTML, PHP, and MySQL database design.
  • Creation and deployment of UI/UX designs on our web platform and product when need be

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

  • Carry out SEO by generating proper in-page keywords and Meta tags for the website.
  • Ensure SEO for the website on all major search engines e.g. Google, Yahoo, Bing and ensure high ranking by ensuring listing of the web URL in the mentioned search engines.

Cpanel Administration & Others:

  • Carry out regular scans for malware/viruses in the mail & home directory which houses the website.
  • Ensure errors are fixed on the website via Cpanel and check website stats which allow for proper SEO.
  • Check process manager to ensure website / Cpanel resources are running at optimum to avoid website crash.
  • Provide expertise on other IT/general-related operations and tasks issues to users and staff members.
  • Provide advice and useful ideas that help make work easy by smoothening operations or providing solutions to ICT issues.

Job Qualifications

  • Diploma or Degree in graphic & web design
  • At least 2-3 years relevant experience preferably as a web or graphic designer
  • Candidate must have good knowledge of Word Press, Php , Html and Css
  • Competency in graphic design applications like Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver and Flash
  • Experience in planning and delivering web-based and graphic content
  • Experience with Google platforms i.e. Analytics, SEO and Web Optimization
  • Knowledge and experience in UI Design is a big plus
  • Experience in Social Media/Web Administration desired
  • Experience video and photography is an added advantage

Personal Competencies

  • Ability to handle pressure in meeting deadlines and prioritizing tasks
  • Articulate and rational when presenting your thoughts and ideas
  • Team player who can inspire and positively contribute to the company culture
  • Confident and strive for perfection while being open to feedback
  • Ability to be self-motivated and work independently using professional judgment
  • Strong knowledge of color and typography

APPLICATION PROCEDURE

If you are up to the challenge, possess the necessary qualification and experience; please send in your CV & Portfolio to hr@stl-horizon.com with “Graphics/Web Designer” on the subject line, by 20th July 2018.

Kindly indicate current/last salary on your CV. Only shortlisted candidates shall be contacted.

 

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The training of new users is part of our after-sales support aimed at increasing efficiency of preparing for board and committee meetings. “We want to ensure new users in administration and ICT have the know how to use eBoard so that the meetings preparation is faster and effective,” explained Mr. John Kirimi, the ICT Manager KEBs.

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Accepting the award, Ms Jyoti said it was humbling to emerge the winner of her category.

“The three of us had equal chances but I’m humbled to carry the day,” she said and advised fellow women: “We are equal; a good mind has no gender, a good brain knows no limits.”

Click to Read more on Kenyan women top region at coveted Ernst & Young entrepreneur awards gala by The EastAfrican.

 

 

Dinfin Mulupi looks at five Kenyan women entrepreneurs who have dared to enter the male-dominated world of business to build some of the region’s most respected companies, among them being Software Technologies Ltd  Chief Executive, Jyoti Mukherjee

Ms Jyoti has steered the company to expanding its product portfolio offering from software development  to software as a service (SaaS) and spread to over 11 countries across Africa.

Click to read more on this story by How We Made it in Africa 

Software Technologies Ltd wins top ICT Industry Champion 2011 award at the Kenya Top 100 Mid-Sized Companies gala. The award  by KPMG and Business Daily was in recognition of the firms continued growth and innovation of unique software products that offer solutions to the needs of businesses in managing people, process and governance.

Click here to read more on this story by Kenya Top 100 Companies.

 

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