Do you want to build a modern, secure, and compliant Board of Directors site in Office 365 that can be used by Board members to store board material, collaborate and discuss board matters? If so, then read on. Although there are third-party products on the market to do this, I think it’s a golden opportunity to use the tools you already have access to in Office 365 to build one of your own!
I would challenge any third-party (non-Office 365) solution to meet these requirements in an equally integrated, flexible, compliant, simple, and cost-effective way. Let’s walk through these five key requirements for our Board Central site:
Although this post will show one way to fulfill these requirements, there are several ways this Board of Directors site could be done within Office 365. The one you choose will, in part, be largely dependent on the culture of the organization, the technical ability of the board, and your regulatory requirements.
Let’s build one in Office 365 focusing on each requirement from above…
Requirement #1: Board members need a secure place to store content relating to Board work
For this solution, I’ve chosen to create a Microsoft Teams. I’ve done this for several reasons:
- Allows for transparent communication by all Board Members. And gives visibility into past conversations and decisions for not only the current Board term but also past terms
- Great meeting experience. And allows Board Members to join meetings virtually when required
- All meetings are recorded (stored in Stream). And a link to the meeting is available directly from Teams
- Great experience across device types (mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet)
- Progressive technology to support a modern workplace. Includes Board Members in this open style of working. This supports the digital transformation most organizations are going through today. Live it!!!
- Backed by a full SharePoint site to hold SharePoint documents. This allows us to leverage the built-in security and compliance controls
Microsoft Teams is considered a Hub for Teamwork in Office 365 that brings together people (Board members), conversation, and content providing a complete collaboration and communication solution. (Reference: Microsoft Teams Adoption Playbook)
The Board Administrator will be the Team owner. Each Board term, new Board members and past Board members will be added/removed from the Team by the Board Administrator.
Channel configuration… there are many ways to organize the Microsoft Teams channels for a Board site. For this post, we’ll create these channels:
- General channel to be used for common announcements for the Board
- Board Meetings standard channel to hold all information relating to Board meetings. This will allow visibility into prior Board meetings year-over-year for decisions and discussions
- Committee Deliverables standard channel to hold all final documents from committee work done in any private channels (see requirement #2)
Requirement #2: Board committees need a private and secure space to collaborate for committee work
In addition to the channels above, a great use-case for a private channel is if we created one for each Board Committee called <Committee Name>. This is required because membership will include a subset of Board Members. We’ll also want to potentially add others from across the organization to participate in the committee documents in the SharePoint site backing the private channel, something we are also allowed to do. Note: They won’t be able to participate in the private channel conversations, only collaborate on documents in SharePoint.
Private Teams Channels are just now rolling out to tenants worldwide. There’s much debate in the community surrounding when a private channel is warranted versus a Group chat versus a separate Microsoft Team. Board committees are a use-case where I can see a natural fit for a private channel – it will reduce noise for Board members for the many committees typically found for Board of Directors.
Requirement #3: Board Administrator must prepare documents in advance of each Board meeting
We’ll leverage a document set to organize Board meeting documents. For each meeting, a new document set will be created to store all documents together (now available in the modern view). To do this, a custom Site Content Type based on a document set will be created called Board Package with this metadata:
- BoardMeetingDate: date & time required
- PackageStatus: choice (values: Draft, Active, Final) required
- BoardYear: calculated column (formula: TEXT([BoardMeetingDate],”yyyy”), this column will be used to group board meetings by year
Standard documents included in each Board meeting will be included as document templates in the Board Package content type . So they’ll automatically appear in each new Board Package. For this example, we’ve included agenda and minutes templates:
Add the Board Package content type to a new document library on the site called Board Packages. We’ll also create a couple of views to be leveraged in the modern page (next requirement):
- Current Board Package: filter where PackageStatus equals Active - there will usually only be one active board package
- Past Board Packages: filter where PackageStatus equals Final and grouped by Board year (descending)
While creating the Board Package, the status will be automatically set to Draft. It will be the responsibility of the Board Administrator to mark the Board Package as Active when materials within the Board Package are ready to be seen by the Board members.
Requirement #4: Board members need to quickly find current and past Board meeting documents
We’ll create one modern page on the SharePoint site with two Library Web Parts: one pointing to each of the above views. (Current Board Packages, Past Board Packages). We’ll add a tab on the Board Meetings standard channel to display the page. This makes it a quick 1-click link for Board members to get to the current and past Board Packages.
Requirement #5: All finalized Board meeting documents to be made a record and retained forever
The Board Administrator will be responsible for finalizing all meeting minutes and document revisions in the Board Package. When this is done, they’ll change the Board Package status to Final. This will trigger a Microsoft Flow to set the retention label on the document set to “Board Record” making it a record to be retained forever.
Two important things to know:
- Ensure you’re only setting the retention label on the Document Set. The retention label will automatically apply to all documents within the Document Set.
- You must ensure you set both isTagPolicyHold and isTagPolicyRecord properties on the SetComplianceTag method to lock the document set as a record in addition to the retention label.
Visually, there will automatically be a lock icon beside each Board Package after the retention label is applied to indicate it’s a record. Some column formatting will highlight the status to indicate it’s a final record.
What I love about solutions like this is its use of Office 365 tools you already have without requiring a developer to build it. It demonstrates how to leverage the built-in awesomeness of Microsoft Teams with an added touch of SharePoint Information Architecture to boost the experience for Board members. SharePoint and Microsoft Teams: better together!
Check back for my next “Board of Directors site” post where I’ll show how to build modern, templated ‘Board of Directors’ pages on your intranet to showcase your Board members to the rest of the organization!
Interested in learning more about the Board of Directors site in Office 365, essentials of a Modern Site Architecture or Intranet Home Page Design? Great!