On Board: a guide for members of management advisory boards

This guidance is for all those appointed by the Chief Executive to be a member of management advisory boards.

Role of Management Advisory Boards

The main role of the Management Advisory Board is to assist the body to deliver its functions either on behalf of Ministers or as a Non-Ministerial body. This is achieved through the provision of strategic advice and support to the Chief Executive, and through constructive challenge. Advisory Board members are not appointed to hold the Chief Executive and senior management team to account.

The Board provides the Chief Executive and the senior management team with support, advice and challenge. Advice from Non-Executives and the outside perspective they bring help the Chief Executive and senior management team make well-considered and well-rounded decisions.

Non-Executives can often be more comfortable in providing challenge to senior management, as they do not have a line management relationship. The critical challenge function of Non-Executives helps decision-makers consider their rationale, motivations, logic and principles in a way that should both help the Executive to make good decisions and make the reasons for decisions more transparent.

The Chief Executive should encourage advice and challenge and offer Non-Executives and executives support for frank and open discussion.

The Management Advisory Board

Key Functions

  • Strategic Advice - brings external perspectives, stimulates innovation and brings fresh eyes to issues and challenges, acts as a "critical friend";
  • Improving Performance - ensures clarity and rigour in scrutiny, measurement and evaluation in delivering objectives and outcomes;
  • Promoting Good Governance - helps bodies to discharge their functions effectively;
  • Audit - members of the Audit Committee provide assurance to the Accountable Officer regarding risks, systems and performance;
  • Risk - seeks assurance from officials about how they are identifying and managing risks within their defined areas of responsibility, and ensures risk strategies are fit for purpose, monitored and evaluated.

Issues on which the Management Advisory Board will provide support, advice or challenge will usually include:

  • Developing the strategic aims and objectives of the body and steps needed to deal with changes which are likely to impact on the strategic aims and objectives of the body or on the attainability of its operational targets;
  • Developing and reviewing the corporate, business and budget plans of the public body;
  • Promoting the efficient, economic and effective use of staff and other resources by the public body consistent with the principles of Best Value;
  • Ensuring that effective arrangements are in place to provide assurance on risk management, governance and internal control;
  • Taking into account relevant guidance issued by Scottish Ministers (as appropriate) and ensuring strategy and plans are aligned with the National Performance Framework - Board members should be clear about the extent to which Ministerial priorities apply to their respective public bodies;
  • Scrutinising financial and performance information concerning the management of the public body and being informed in a timely manner about any concerns regarding the activities of the public body;
  • Where the public body is an employer, ensuring that employment policies and procedures comply with the Civil Service Management Code;
  • Ensuring systems are in place to enable early notification to be provided to the Scottish Government about emerging issues which will impact on the operation or reputation of the public body; and
  • Encouraging and demonstrating high standards of corporate governance at all times, including openness and transparency in decision-making.


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