Many Founders and scale-up CEOs see a board pack as an additional burden that comes with new VC investment, consuming resources that could be better used to drive the business forward. This may be warranted at times, but the reality is that managing a board and delivering board packs are important scale-up skills. Every great tech company has a great board pack, so let’s assess what great really looks like.
Why do I need a board pack?
- It will help ensure an efficient, effective board agenda.
- It will be an important communication channel with shareholder representatives.
- It will become a useful tool for you, as CEO, to drive change across the business.
What should my board pack include?
In Frog’s experience, the best board packs excel by giving a regular perspective on the business from 5 different angles:
- The customer
- Internal operational performance
- Strategic growth challenges
The board information should, for the most part, be a subset of the information you are discussing as an executive team.
Top of the agenda should be your customers. As your company scales, you are working hard to keep the customer at the heart of the culture and the values of your business. Make sure, then, that your customers’ views and the KPIs that track them are front and centre in your board pack. New joiners, new investors and ultimately acquirers will feel comforted to see that customer satisfaction is the company’s core priority.
Many scale-up boards get sucked into sales and operations, discussing the intricate details of account pipelines or tech development. Whilst this is interesting to many non-executive directors, is it adding any value to share this detail with Board members? A great board pack answers most reporting questions before the board meeting even starts, allowing you and your Chairman to run an agenda focused less on reporting past results, and more on solving upcoming challenges.
What do I want my board pack to achieve?
A great board pack shows off what progress you’re making. But it is not a selling document. When Board members feel ‘sold to’, this starts to undermine trust. Great board packs openly highlight challenges and solicit input on your proposed solutions. In demonstrating integrity and impartiality by being proactive in highlighting and addressing issues, you build confidence with important stakeholders. No one likes surprises, and all good Board members will want to try and help with the challenges.
A key measure of great CEOs is their ability to hit targets, whether these are customer wins, financial KPIs, recruitment or tech development. Continually being over-optimistic with your budget significantly undermines your credibility. Use the board pack as a tool to educate your senior team in the importance of hitting their goals, and use it has a harsh reminder to yourself of how uncomfortable it is to present underperformance. Under-promise and over-deliver.
Every great scale-up has clear long-term goals, and a strategy to achieve them. The board pack should be used to regularly check in on progress against these goals, and to test whether the board needs a deeper review to discuss if they will be missed. If the pack’s tracking of longer term, strategic goals is flagging up red, we recommend you consider doing a proper strategic review with the Board.
With all these elements in mind, the attached toolkit outlines the optimum benchmark for a great board pack in the form of an editable template. This template is in a Word doc format, so it is best to download onto your desktop and work from there.
See Frog operating partners James Bagan and David Williams discussing an effective board in high-growth companies, available here.
About the author
Steven has over 15 years of private equity experience gained both within private equity firms and as a senior executive of private equity backed companies. He joined Frog as CFO and Partner in charge of Portfolio in 2015. He represents Frog on the boards of Mediatonic, Scoota and Edited.