How to Prepare for a Board Meeting
Preparing for a board meeting can be stressful, especially if you are meeting for the first time. What documents are essential and how do you present them appropriately? My step-by-step guide should help you as you prepare.
Establish a Schedule
When setting Board meeting dates, always plan months in advance. Make sure to schedule the meeting with the plans of other members in mind – be conscientious of their time, and other obligations. Also, establish a Calendar of Activities for the Board and any committees. This ensures that if plans must be adjusted, you have time to do so. Always maintain files of upcoming board events and issues, to be ready for review at a moment’s notice.
TIPS: Automate Your Key Metrics – constantly keep track of your progression so that when you need to present you can, without a ton of unnecessary preparation. Consider the use of Skype and other video-conferencing tools for board members who may not be able to travel to your location.
If you have made preparation part of your on-going activities, it should be easy to put together all the important documents. Make time to prepare with your team what you are going to discuss. Seek counsel outside the meeting – talk to board members privately about the big issues, or concerns that might lead to a lot of controversy during the meeting.
TIPS: 1) Create a consistent meeting structure because consistency also streamlines preparation.
2) Prepare the resolutions you will need board members to sign at the meeting.
Worksheets: Minutes for a Formal Meeting, Minutes of Meeting of Directors Special, Minutes of Meeting of Directors, Minutes of Meeting Master.
Correspondence: Board Resolutions (hundreds of these).
Create an Effective Board Deck (PowerPoint)
The Cover page should list date, time, and location. A complete agenda should follow, listing each item up for discussion or review. List page numbers of background materials next to each item – that will help directors find materials and better prepare. The rest of the packet should include a manager's report, financial statements, committee reports or minutes, and proposals.
TIPS: 1) Spend time agreeing on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) either before the first meeting or during the first meeting.
2) You should also agree on financial formatting and accounting methods, and make sure operating KPI's and financial reporting go hand in hand.
3) Consider labelling some items, “for discussion only” or “decision needed”.
4) Send out the Board Deck 5 days in advance. In general, the packet should contain a written document for every item appearing on the board's agenda.
PowerPoint: Board Deck.
Board Resolutions: Establishing Annual Performance Review Committee.
Spreadsheets: Financial Projections 12 months, Financial Projections 3 Years.
At the beginning of your search, a good idea would be to narrow the results geographically; you can search by city or country according to your preferences and availability to travel. When searching on Google, try to use the name of the technology in your query (e.g.: Java software developers). After you get the first results, check if the companies you found have experience with similar projects and within your specific market.
TIPS: 1) Try to search for companies that are experienced in your very niche; the fact that they understand your business and not only the technologies they need to work with means that they can also provide valuable advice.
2) Always ask for references and verify those references.
Short List the Best Contractors
After browsing through the websites of several software development companies, it is now time to select a few for a more thorough research. Create your short list with these criteria in mind: cultural fit (try to choose a company from a country with a similar culture to yours or at least one that is familiar to it), portfolio (previous experience must be proven), references (check with companies they previously worked for; a nice portfolio doesn’t depict their communication skills and timely delivery) and pricing (make sure they fit your budget).
TIP: Put all the info you gather in this phase in a spreadsheet, along with your comments. This will make it easier to compare and choose the best one.
If possible, pay a visit to a few of the short-listed vendors. This will help you get a better feeling of how they work and if their team is exactly what you were looking for. Moreover, meeting them in person will ensure a better communication when the project starts. When there, try to assess if they give you the feeling that they CAN and WANT to do the job. If meeting the team in person is not a possibility, try to go beyond their website in your research. Check their social media accounts and some LinkedIn profiles of their team members.
TIP: When you visit the short-listed vendors, don’t meet only with the managers. Ask to meet the software developers and try to have a small chat with them. After all, they are the ones that will be doing the actual work and you want to make sure that they are up to it and that they can communicate efficiently.
This may seem like wasted money, but it’s actually the best investment you could make in this phase. Working with them on a small project that does not require a big financial commitment will tell you exactly if they are the right vendor to do the job. Of course, you don’t need to do this with all the candidates; testing two or three is more than enough.
TIP: Get the most out of your money by asking them to work on something that you will actually use, like a small feature or a very simple app. This way, you get to test them and also receive something in exchange for your time and money.
Agreements: Source Code Trust (Short), Source Code Trust (Long Form), Source Code Trust Development, Source Code Trust Agreement – Fully Paid-Up Royalty Free. Source Code Escrow, Source Code License.
When signing the contracts, even though you work with a draft provided by the vendor, make sure to mention all the milestones and deliverables, as well as the way testing will be performed. Moreover, penalties for not meeting deadlines and quality standards should also be clearly specified.
TIP: Before signing the contract, have a lawyer check it up, especially if the software development company is from another city. Even if everything seems straight-forward, you might be surprised at the legal glitches a skilled lawyer can find. This can save you a lot of money later on!
Once you have hired a software development vendor, you should consider that team as part of your very own, like an extension of your staff. Thus, you can congratulate them when they deliver excellent results and make them feel proud to contribute to what you are building.
TIPS: 1)Try not to be a silent partner and get involved in the entire process by giving comments, feedback, preferences, and ideas.
2) If ongoing testing is an option, always report screen-shots of bugs and other issues.
3) Establish tiers of communication with the vendor and respect them throughout the project. This is a safe way to ensure that the information and feedback you send always reaches the right person.
As a contractor this one is tough! I have my client’s best interests at heart, so I must include it. This is the best way to ensure that you will never find surprise bugs and features that don’t work properly in your software. If necessary and applicable, you can even have independent third parties test the software. Of course, this means an extra expense and delays, but in the long run it guarantees that your investment is closer to future-proof.
TIP: Make sure that this is clearly specified in the contract you sign. Otherwise, you may be liable for penalties resulting from delayed payment.
Agreements: Technology Transfer, Assignment of All Right in Computer Software, Non-Disclosure Beta Tester.
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