Birmingham City University - Mark Hopton, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors

Convene Customer Success

Birmingham City University

We spoke to Helen Matthews, Assistant University Secretary, about how Convene has helped Birmingham City University with their move towards sustainability.

Image: Mark Hopton, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Board of Governors

Birmingham City University, with a student body of 24,000 from 80 different countries, is a large and diverse institution that prides itself on promoting academic excellence through its philosophy of placing students’ needs and aspirations at the heart of everything it does.
Green Academia

Our move towards a sustainable and effective board solution was in part driven by five of our younger, environmentally conscious and considerably more tech savvy board members who viewed paper copies as a thing of the past.

We had been using SharePoint, however this did not prove to be a workable solution for us. We undertook a board effectiveness survey which strengthened the case for introducing a paperless solution. We then invited three providers in for demonstrations; Convene, MinutePad and BoardPacks.

We first saw Convene exhibited at the AUA conference.  From the demonstration alone, we found Convene to be very user friendly and designed by someone who fully understands committees.

Costs reduced; sustainability increased

Our November board pack alone was between 700 and 800 pages and they had to be photocopied 26 times in colour. Our mailing and photocopying costs were very high. There was the added disadvantage of having to copy any late papers which ate into valued time.

With Convene the process is so much quicker. We only implemented Convene in November 2018, but our costs are already much lower, and we are incredibly enthusiastic about its functionality. We often find ourselves discovering new features over and above the ones we already know. We can’t imagine going back to copying again! 

A Board approved solution

Convene is used by the board and five to six sub committees, its subsidiary companies and the internal executive group. We are very keen to use Convene to its full potential, so we are considering a future roll out across the academic board. The Chair doesn’t use Convene as yet, so we do find Convene’s print option useful when we need to produce a paper pack.

Secure data handled with care by Convene

Convene allows us to easily decide who has access to particular papers. We had a recent board offsite that included a presentation containing sensitive material. We were able to put this on Convene securely, and to allow access to only those who required it.

Glowing feedback from our Administrators

Feedback from our Convene users is extremely positive.  Comments such as “I can’t imagine how we worked without convene”,  “If you follow instructions properly, you’d have a hard job to go wrong with Convene”, and “Convene is very simple and easy to use from a user point of view” are just a few examples, and always wonderful to hear!

Review. Access. Vote.  All at the touch of a button.

We particularly like the Review Room. Before Convene, our draft minutes were circulated on email, but now we simply place them in the Review Room, where the minutes and comments are instantly available on one document. The Document Library is also a vital feature since it allows us to put all our governance documents into one space; making it easy for people to access exactly what they need.

The Resolution function is highly beneficial. We use the written resolution to show that people had voted themselves prior to a meeting; even if they could not be present at the time. We have received glowing user feedback surrounding Convenes’ range of functionalities in this area, including the ability to build agendas, to see who has read the papers and when, and for late papers to be added.

Seamless implementation, bespoke training

Leonore Perrotte, our account manager, delivered a full day’s training for our department, with a separate briefing session for our IT Project Management team.  Leonore emailed clear and concise follow up information for all governors. The effectiveness of the training meant that everyone here was left fully up to speed from the outset.

Highly recommended for Higher Education

 When we met another university contact at a recent Association of Higher Education event, we shared our contagious Convene enthusiasm, and arranged to meet with them and share information about the solution and all it has to offer


Change of this nature can be daunting, and many of us stick with what we know even if there is a more effective way. Because our board was on side, the Convene process was relatively smooth. As a team, we worked together to achieve the transition, with IT looking after the procurement side.

We have really liked working with Convene!

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