In large organisations it is relatively easy to keep the board's administrative wheels well oiled by allocating the duties to a specific member of staff, such as the chief executive's administrator or a governance support executive.
In small organisations, tight budgets and a small staff team often mean that a volunteer, a trustee, the company secretary or the chair is responsible for this work. Its importance often becomes apparent in my work with board reviews.
One key administrative task is setting and maintaining the schedule of board meeting dates. This can reduce trustee absenteeism and creates a helpful framework.
The best practice I have seen has come from both small and larger governing bodies. Someone ensures that there is a 12-month rolling series of dates, so that after the April 2013 meeting, say, one is set for January 2014. Sub-committee meeting dates inform the cycle of reports allocated to future board agendas. It might be tedious, but it demonstrates commitment and is an indicator of good governance practice.