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It’s no secret that planning and running an effective board meeting requires a lot of time and research. But how many of these meetings can be accomplished? Not as many, according to Korn Ferry research. Therefore, it is critical to ensure that board members are well informed. While board meetings can be scary to the unaccustomed or unprepared, if handled properly, they can be a time for tech leaders to share updates, come up with new ideas, and gain buy-in and input from other important people in the company. In this article, I’ll list the key questions you need to be prepared to answer at your next board meeting.
But first, before going to a board meeting, this is probably the most important tip you need: Know your target audience. Before meeting with them for the first time, it is critical to research the past experiences of each board member and the other board members they serve.
Even though most board members have only a basic understanding of information technology, they are aware of the most pressing issues as they keep up with the latest developments or the gains they have served on other boards. If you follow these companies closely and do some research before going to the board, you should have no problem answering their questions.
Once you know your target audience, it’s also important to be prepared to answer these tough and timely questions to show your board members that information technology is moving in the right direction:
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1. How prepared are we for current cyber threats?
Board members continue to prioritize cybersecurity, which is especially important given the growing global turmoil. Technology leaders should always be prepared for this complex issue, but not make doomsday predictions or appear overconfident.
Be prepared to answer questions related to cyber risk. Emphasize that even if a risk is unlikely, it can have a significant impact, so you should plan how to reduce it. Discuss where you are not as secure, but quickly follow up on how you are improving, your strategies and how they hold you accountable for improving and minimizing any cyberattack threats.
Given the current state of the global economy, some boards may wonder whether cyberattack defenses can be implemented more economically. Most of the time, the answer is “no,” especially if the company needs to maintain its expertise or keep itself safe. Time, cost, and quality form a balancing triangle, and technology leaders must emphasize the importance of each.
2. Are we investing in technology that supports our strategy?
Board members may ask to ensure technology leaders have IT investments that support company strategy. Therefore, it is necessary to show how these investments fit into the overall investment plan and guarantee the best possible returns.
Board members can also pitch their ideas for new technologies after hearing them from competitors or other board members. Therefore, technology leaders must be ready to answer their questions.
Such issues should be addressed using the business context rather than the technical context. The response may depend on how well the company is performing and how well it is positioned economically. In the digital space, are companies aiming to lead or follow?
3. What strategies are you using to retain and recruit IT skills?
With talent shortages in the IT industry worldwide, board members may be asking technology leaders what their companies are doing to develop talent from within and what strategies they are using to retain existing talent. They might even ask about employee turnover and the company’s process for attracting new hires. Are you just offering a higher salary, or are there other attractive perks?
Related: Employee retention guru tips for tech companies
4. Should we be filling the hiring gap through automation?
Some board members can also ask about automation or robotics as an alternative if there are not enough competent employees. The question might be, “Can we do this more efficiently with automation, because we can’t find enough people to perform these tasks anyway?” Will it help the company become stronger, or will it keep us in the mid- to long-term Operate in a more economical way, not just today? Technology leaders should list company operations that could or should be automated.
5. How did you develop an inclusive, equitable, and diverse IT team?
With the growing focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a key workplace goal and productivity driver, technology leaders should be prepared to explain their DEI plans, including how they recruit these talents.
These corporate responsibility issues may also involve sustainability issues. For example, they might ask, “What are you doing to manage a more sustainable IT organization, reduce your data center footprint, or switch to the cloud?”
6. What do we not know and what should we worry about?
The board of directors relies on your report to help develop corporate strategy. Things should start with a clear top three list. Always consider your options before answering. Start with the statement, “From the outside, at a given percentage, there is potential for revenue growth.” Or, ask what your competitors are doing, and elaborate. Or, “Competitors we don’t even see today are likely to do this.” If a problem pops up and you don’t have the ability to respond, never respond.
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Technology leaders must conduct IT board meetings with more organization, planning, and teamwork than face-to-face meetings. Being prepared will pay off. First impressions are always the most important. If you can get off to a good start in the first three meetings, your life will be a lot easier. Otherwise, it will become a problematic path.