Board papers

Board papers play an important role in stimulating discussion and keeping directors informed of current issues facing your business. The point is often to identify and understand important issues related to the future of the organisation so that good decisions can be made.

There is no one-size-fits-all way of producing a board paper and it is therefore best if each board decides for itself how the preparation, format and content of papers should be presented. Certain basic papers are generally accepted as being necessary:

  • minutes of previous meeting
  • CEO's operational report
  • financial report
  • regular disclosure of interests register
  • other papers produced by management.

Keep in mind that a paper should be brief, digestible, and with sufficient detail and data to ensure its full potential is reached.

A paper should state at the beginning whether its purpose is:

  • for information only
  • for discussion
  • for a decision to be taken.

A paper should focus on strategic issues and be signed off by the CEO before being circulated to the board. Also ensure that sufficient time is given to directors to absorb the paper prior to attending the meeting so that they can be prepared to discuss and debate it.

If the outcomes of a board paper have any budget implications, these should be clearly laid out for the board to consider.

Board papers should be distributed at least a week before the meeting to give board members ample time to read thoroughly.

Confidentiality and security

Board papers often contain sensitive information about an organisation and directors should therefore take care to ensure they are kept secure.