Special Olympics Ireland is a sports organisation for people with an intellectual disability, but it provides athletes with far more than the physical benefits of sport.
Special Olympics Ireland currently has almost 9,100 registered athletes participating in 14 sports in 360 affiliated groups throughout the island of Ireland. The board of directors is made up a wide range of voluntary members from different sectors.
Niall Callaghan, IT Manager, tells us how Convene has positively impacted the way the board works in the last 18 months.
Enterprise Grade Security Features
Just over two years ago there was a lot of publicity about data protection and security. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has a lot to deal with because so many international companies such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo have their EU base of operations here.
This sparked a request from the board to the IT department to address security concerns when it came to board documents. Many of our board members were concerned about the security of our meeting packs. We started our search to find a product that would address security concerns, but at the same time we hoped to find something that would make collaboration easier.
As board positions are voluntary, we tend to have some changeover in personnel. The tech-savvy members of the board were aware that sensitive information was residing on their business tablets or phones from their day job.
What excited me most about Convene was the way it encrypts data on a device. We looked at similar products that did this, but meeting collaboration wasn’t their primary function. Yes, we did have a business need that revolved around security but what worked out well for us, when it came to the procurement of Convene, were the add-ons such as digital collaboration, remote meetings, and a meeting pack archive.
Enhanced Meeting Preparation
There used to be a lot of ‘high-pressure moments’ before we started using Convene. The admin team used to either email or courier the board packs, and had to make sure that board members received the documents with plenty of time to review and prepare for the meeting.
This left few opportunities for changes and updates, but there were many occasions when the team were putting together the packs and emailing them out, sometimes the night before the meeting.
Easy Implementation Process
One of the great selling points with Convene is that it was just so simple to get started, especially if you are on the Android or Apple platform. If you can install Angry Birds, you can install Convene and join a meeting.
When it came to implementation, I did an initial presentation to the board about our solution for the business problem. I then outlined our delivery plan which involved sending them out a test meeting and asking them to reply. We then gave them contact details for out IT support team here and made sure that we could help them through with any technical difficulties they had. Out of the 18 people who were involved with the implementation of Convene, we had three calls. One was because the iPad in question wasn’t registered, the other had to do with corporate firewalls and the third was because they simply didn’t know the HTTP portal address.
Considering that the problems tend to be quite simple to solve, I handed over technical support to our CEO’s PA.
Empowered Ways of Working
The two things that’ve helped us, both as meeting organisers and as board members, is the fact that we can make amendments to our board pack the night before and know that it is going to be delivered to the board as soon as they open the app. It has also been so easy to manage the accounts on the system, so as and when people resign from positions and new members come onboard, it’s just a matter of creating a new account, assigning the email address, and sending the email.
Last weekend was a great example of new ways of working. We had one board member, who was involved on the finance side of things and was vital to the successful running of the meeting, but he couldn’t attend in person. Instead he did so on the phone and followed the whole meeting on his iPad back at home. It’s amazing how that functionality is taken for granted in the space of 18 months. It’s expected now.
Interview with Niall Callaghan, IT Manager