Convene Customer Success

Anchor Hanover Group

We spoke to Elaine Russ - Assistant Company Secretary at Anchor Hanover Housing Association - about how Convene has helped them during unstable times, and supported them towards their sustainability goals.

“Convene enabled us to carry on working and at the level of efficiency that we needed.”


Please describe your Board and management structure, and how you use Convene within this structure.

We have 9 Non-Executive members along with two Executive members who form our Board, and then we have 5 main committees that sit below that deal with a number of different strands of the business. Our management team of 6 meet twice a month and we have monthly Management Board meetings which are for our Senior Managers.

We use Convene for Board meetings and Committee meetings, although we used Convene more so for meeting preparation and to be able to download and view the meeting pack. The system has really streamlined the process and heightened security since we no longer have a need to circulate documents by email and are now able to do within a secure system.

Furthermore, with Convene we are able be sure that we have the documents in the right place, and that important pages have not been missed out of a meeting pack so that has really streamlined the process.

Anchor Hanover was formed as a result of a merger, how did Convene help during this process?

During the merger, we used Convene to manage all meeting stages, and all the documentation resulting from our integration programme. There have been monthly integration steering meetings, and we are currently mid-way through a restructuring and refinancing programme a part of the merger. Convene has been used for our restructuring/refinancing committee. There has been a lot of info traffic, and the number of meetings and meeting frequency have increased. We have had a lot of decisions and confidential information and figures to share. Convene is a workhorse for us in terms of sharing documents securely.

How did Convene support your Board meeting process during the pandemic?

Convene has enabled us to carry on as normal during the pandemic. The biggest change for our Board was the fact that they could no longer be around the table. We have used Convene for several years and it is a very effective system for managing and coordinating meeting packs, so in terms of remote working Convene has helped us to continue business as usual without us having to search for an alternative communication/collaborative solution for meeting preparation etc. It was particularly beneficial because we had an increase in the number and frequency of meetings. A lot of decision items needed to be shared confidentially, so Convene provided the added security that was required for us to do this.

Also, it allowed for rapid meeting preparation, since we often had to get meeting papers prepared at short notice, and without Convene we would have had to distribute documents via email which would have taken longer and could have been unwieldy, for example, if a meeting pack became lost in a person’s email. So, Convene enabled us to carry on working and at the level of efficiency that we needed.

Which Convene features do you find the most useful?

We trialled the Survey tool for our annual committee and Board effectiveness reviews. We put up surveys for the Board and each of the committees so that each individual member could assess their own performance. This information was then reviewed by the Chair and the Company Secretary as part of the appraisal process. We do use the Document Library and Notes and Annotations, although we would like to extend our use of the system since there are a number of features that we do not currently use.

How much of a priority is ESG and sustainability for your organisation, and how has Convene helped achieve this?

This is a big priority for us. We have just completed a large scale refinancing project. We have a new funding programme in place which is linked to a sustainability initiative, so we have some ESG KPI’s that we are going to be monitoring through the year. It is a significant focus for our organisation since we are developing new housing while looking to be as carbon neutral as possible.

There is an asset management programme in place that concentrates on retro fitting to improve energy and efficiency. As a result of the Government’s target for housing organisations to be carbon neutral by 2030, we have had to have a plan in place to demonstrate how we are going to deliver this. Even though the pandemic has resulted in an urgent need to respond to various new and unexpected demands, the ESG agenda is continuing in the background. Having Convene in place will make a difference to our sustainability initiatives.

How has Convene been received by the Board and Senior Managers?

I know that from a user perspective the Board can become frustrated because they are unable to print off documents owing to the way we have set up administration rights on the system. I remind them that we are not meant to print because we have a secure system in place and printing would defeat the object. Having said that, a few our Board members and our Executive team do use the Annotation tool when they are reviewing Board packs. Some of our members are non-technical, and we used to have to email our previous Chair a board pack to download and print, because he liked to have a paper pack he could annotate. We had a couple of other members who struggled with accessing Convene to begin with and we had to regularly send them hard copies, but that is no longer the case.


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