How College Boards Avoid Hidden Costs in Board Software Licenses

Navigating the selection of a board software provider can place undo stress on college boards. With many vendors offering nearly identical solutions, each claiming their own to be superior, prioritizing minute differentiators can make a major difference. In this article, we’re taking a closer look at one difference among board software providers that’s costing college boards a fortune.

   The Fast Facts
  • College boards may face hidden costs when selecting a board software vendor.
  • These costs may include requiring boards to purchase a separate license for executive assistants, charging more for administrator licenses, or charging boards an additional fee for each group or committee they create.
  • Best Practice: When selecting a software provider for your college board, ask about the hidden costs listed above, calculate how those costs will add up, and weigh them against the vendor’s perceived value over other candidates.

Breaking Down Board Software Licenses

Board software licenses come in all shapes and sizes. College boards can be charged a single flat rate per user. Some vendors offer a group or bulk rate. Neither of these are out of the ordinary. The difference comes with who counts as a user and what roles count for more. We’ll explain.

Say a college board has ten directors. That’s ten board software licences right? Easy. But now let’s say eight of those four of those ten directors has an executive assistant that needs to access the software to add and organize material. Do those users require a separate license? If so, your costs just went up by forty percent.

Your board will also need at least one administrator. Larger boards, boards with several committees, or those with a large number of executive assistants will often require additional administrators. These users play a vital role in setting up users, configuring directors’ access and permissions, and managing board meetings and materials through the software. It’s a big responsibility that requires giving a user access to more features which allow them to fulfill these duties. That’s why some vendors charge college boards more for administrators’ licenses. Admin licenses may not bring the cost of your board software up by a percentage in the double digits, but they’re not cheap either.

But the hidden costs of board software don’t stop there. Because even after you’ve bought licenses for each director and any executive assistants working for them, some vendors even charge college boards for adding groups and committees. To clarify, this hidden cost isn’t related to licensing, per se, but we’re including it in this article because it’s often revealed to college boards at the same time: during implementation.

Specifically, this cost is incurred when college boards create groups or committees for their board members to deliberate on specific topics or decisions. Vendors can charge you for each new group or committee you add. And those numbers add up.

Finding the Right Board Software License Structure

Now that you have a better idea of the hidden costs of board software, let’s talk about how college boards can address the issue. Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh the additional costs of vendors who charge more for executive assistants or certain user roles against the benefits. To weigh those costs, we’ve put together a few questions college boards can ask to evaluate their options.

The Best Practice

When comparing board portal software vendors, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does the vendor charge executive assistants for their own software licenses?
    1. How many executive assistants across your boards and committees will require a software license?
  2. Does the vendor charge more for administrator licenses than for board member software licenses?
    1. How many administrators will your college board require?

Note: Consider purchasing more than one administrator license if (1) there is a large number of directors or on your board, or (2) if your board has several committees.

  1. Does the vendor charge an additional fee for each small group or committee into which your board is divided?
    1. Count the number of small groups and committees you will require.

If the answer to questions one, two, and three are “yes”, add up the numbers of executive assistant, administrators, and groups/committees listed in questions 1A, 2A, and 3A respectively. Multiply those values by their respective costs. Remember to multiply the number of administrators in question 2A by the difference between the cost an administrator license and a standard board member license.

Add up the sums of each value to find the total additional cost of a vendor’s board software solutions. Finally compare that cost to the costs of vendors who don’t charge college boards for these three items.

This will serve as the basis for determining whether the hidden costs are worth the difference in the perceived value of one vendor over another.

We hope you’ve learned how to identify, evaluate, or avoid the hidden costs of board software. If you’d like to learn more from Directorpoint, visit our blog for info and insights on how college boards can use board software to increase their decision-making effectiveness. Want to learn about Directorpoint’s Board Management Software? Give us a call at (888) 492-7020 or click here to schedule your free software demo.

Spoiler alert! We won’t charge you for administrative assistants or for creating groups and committees. We also don’t charge college boards more for administrator licenses. Give us a call today!

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