Queen Mary University of London is a global leading university which can trace its roots back to the great charitable institutions of London’s East End. Now an international hub of education and research excellence, Queen Mary is also committed to addressing its environmental, social and economic impacts in order to build a sustainable future. They have been using Convene since September 2018.
Nadine Lewycky, Governance Officer at Queen Mary University, gave us her insights into why they went with Convene, the implementation process, and how it gave the governance team their valuable time back.
Need to Switch to Digital Meetings
“Previously we provided information or papers to those committees in hard-copy or paper format. This was time-consuming, expensive and not really practical for members, many of whom are external to the university. We had to post them out and they would have to carry large packs of paper around so we wanted to find a solution that would be more efficient,” shared Nadine.
According to her, their meeting packs have at least 200 pages for council gatherings. “Some other committees have less, but they are 100 pages at a minimum, so the preparation time and money invested is substantial. Most of our members use tablets or laptops in meetings already so there was no need to have an additional paper pack. Essentially, we wanted to improve the processes supporting the governance structure at the university,” she noted.
Given the tedious process in preparing for meetings, one of their top priorities was a simple yet comprehensive digital solution. “From an administrator perspective, we were after something that would make it easier for us to manage papers coming in, update the versions, manage publications, and to collate documents into a simple, single agenda. Most importantly, we wanted the system to make the process easier for us and not an additional job.”
Simple and Intuitive Functionality
When it came to evaluating prospective solutions, they were impressed with Convene’s functionalities. “From a user perspective, what made Convene stand out for us, was just how easy it is to find where your documents are for a meeting and then annotate them directly. When we started looking for a digital solution, the first thing that stood out for us was the layout and appearance. It was very clean, everything was clearly labelled making it very easy to navigate. It does what it says it does.”
Moreover, Convene’s easy-to-use interface was definitely a plus factor for meeting participants. “We also found it very intuitive to have all the papers in one place, it bears a resemblance to Adobe Acrobat Reader, so people who were already familiar with that software went into Convene and picked it up in no time. The feedback we’ve had from the committee has just been very positive. They have particularly highlighted how easy it is to navigate around a pack, click through the agenda and sign off papers.”
Rapid Adaptation across the Governing Board
Because of the great feedback, their committee members were keen on transitioning to Convene immediately. “Switching from paper to digital was, overall, quite quick. I’ve only been at the institution for a little over a year, but I think there had been discussions about getting a board portal and the members of the governing body were quite keen on it. There was a lot of incentive to get on-board. The other reason that we did move quickly was that committee starts in September. We wanted to start the committee year with Convene up and running. “
Despite the slight hiccups, they believe they made the right choice of rolling Convene out right away. “The other option would have been to have taken our time with it to make sure everything was perfect before implementing it. Our perspective was to just start using it by getting the people who are more tech-savvy onto it right away and then try and get everyone else to follow in due course. We made the right decision in that respect, mainly because there was an appetite for it.”
Value for Money
For fellow governance officers in educational institutions, Nadine had shared a few words of wisdom in terms of choosing the right meeting solution. “To other universities looking to make the switch, I would recommend thinking about price for value as budgets are quite tight. Convene was priced lower, compared to the other systems we looked at that were similar in terms of features. It wasn’t the cheapest, because we saw some very basic ones, but the price point for the functionality was attractive.”
Aside from cost, she also highlighted the need for relevant parties to closely examine the software’s features with respect to simplicity and flexibility. “Other than that, consider ease of use and efficiency from an administrator perspective. You don’t want to duplicate work; you don’t want to suggest something that will make meeting admins do the job twice. Additionally, look for ease of use from an end user perspective.”