What is a Board Manual?

Board Manual / Board Manuals

A board manual is a complete guideline for the board of directors to follow. It contains key data about the organisation and its governance processes. It serves as a guiding principle for the orientation of new directors. As such, each new member should be given a board manual when joining the board.

Why is a board manual important?

A board manual is vital to ensure the effective governance of the board. It serves the following primary functions:

  • As a board orientation handbook containing useful company and board information, including its structure, operations, strategy, details of fellow directors and more.
  • As an integral working tool for the company and the board to keep all governing records organised.
  • As evidence of the company’s governance policies and procedures.

Key elements of a board manual

Here are the key elements of an effective board manual:

  • Roles and responsibilities: The designated roles and functional areas of responsibility of the board and the staff.
  • Business history: The company’s history of operations in the industry.
  • Policies and procedures: The organisation’s governance policies and processes.
  • Organisational structure: Hierarchy of the organisation to show the structure of accountability and who does what.
  • Strategy: The company’s strategic plans and major long-term goals.
  • Mission statement: The company’s mission, vision and values.
  • Official documents: Legal documents including bye-laws, insurance papers and articles of incorporation.
  • Biographies of board members: Their names, contact information and addresses.
  • Financial reports: The state of the organisation’s financial health and annual and audit reports of the previous year.
  • Budget information: The budget narrative and cash flow, including details about the source of the money and how it is spent.

Why you should keep the board manual up-to-date

A board manual documents the organisation’s critical information, policies and reports. Failing to update the manual with any changes in finances and assets, employment regulations and the scope of the organisation can render it ineffective. As a general rule, a board manual should be reviewed and updated annually, but you should add time-critical updates as early as possible.  

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