With a diverse and geographically dispersed board, NRG Energy realized the value of moving to online distribution of board materials and tried a number of solutions, including homegrown. After a search, the short-listing of candidates and proper due diligence, BoardVantage emerged as the clear favorite.
Founded in 1989, NRG is a wholesale power generation company, primarily engaged in the ownership and operation of power generation facilities and the sale of energy, capacity and related products in the United States and internationally. NRG has a diverse portfolio of electric generation facilities in terms of geography, fuel type and dispatch levels, which helps to mitigate risk. Operations include competitive energy production and cogeneration facilities, power marketing, district heating and cooling production, and thermal energy production facilities, primarily in North America but also in Europe and Australia.
With an equally diverse and geographically dispersed board, NRG Energy was quick to realize the importance of moving to online distribution of board materials. Tanuja Dehne, Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, explains:
We tried a homegrown solution based on another web-based system but being a generic platform, it provided only a simple folder structure, which was limited and did not suit our needs. All access had to go through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which was a time-consuming and error-prone process that frustrated our Directors. However, I was convinced of the benefits of an online board portal, and initiated a search for a replacement solution.
After due diligence, BoardVantage emerged as a clear favorite, in part because a number of energy companies were already established customers. "We started to see the benefits immediately," adds Dehne. "The Board appreciates the fact that they now have easy access from anywhere with no limitations, and we now use this to distribute all of our board materials. In fact, I'm pleased to say we're moving away from paper as much as possible, attempting to become paper-lite in line with our Company's econrg initiative. It definitely saves time and increases efficiency when trying to update last minute changes to board books. The new system has also brought significant benefits to the Corporate Secretary function, reducing the time spent to assemble and distribute board information. As Deputy General Counsel, I am keenly aware that external events may require immediate board consideration. BoardVantage gives us a tool to distribute last minute changes and enable our Board to stay in touch 24/7."
Use of the BoardVantage portal has extended beyond simple document distribution. NRG Energy uses BoardVantage as a centrally accessible repository of information that is easily searchable. This is especially valuable to the Audit Committee, which has large volumes of content to refer to, but also for senior members of the management team. NRG Energy also makes full use of the Approvals module to speed up and simplify the process of circulating written consents.
"Support for ad hoc meetings is critical for us as well and the BoardVantage portal helps us by making it a cinch to distribute content and also set up web conferences in a much easier and secure manner," notes Deborah Fry, Assistant Corporate Secretary. "Perhaps the greatest benefit that NRG Energy has witnessed is the streamlining of the entire board process with a much faster and easier to use Portal. One thing we certainly don't miss is the massive board books we had to assemble and bring with us when we travel," adds Fry.
A SaaS provider, BoardVantage is not only judged on the functionality of its Portal, but also on the overall level of service they provide. "We've been very pleased with the quality of service that BoardVantage provides and find the team very responsive and willing to assist. I feel they understand what board level service really means," explains Dehne. "We've also noticed how with each new release, BoardVantage has incorporated customer feedback to even further improve and streamline the process. Those enhancements are very important to us and I feel we're benefiting from the collective wisdom and best practices of all of BoardVantage's customers. It's a hidden benefit of the software as a service model."
"I've never doubted the benefits of a board portal," says Dehne. Now, with BoardVantage, NRG Energy is reaping those benefits with a more efficient Corporate Secretary function, streamlined board process and lower costs.
BoardVantage Board Portal