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Before taking up my job in London, I worked in an organisation Dubai who held Board style meetings. There were about 20 people, so there were a lot of email exchanges. When I came to London my employer was looking for a solution to manage our papers electronically. My boss was already a member of another Board and had experience of Convene. It was a system she liked and she suggested we conduct an informal “due diligence” exercise and assess some other products to compare against Convene.
I’ve never worked with a solution of this kind before, and I’m someone who can be put off by having to read a manual, and I don’t like training videos! I found Convene very intuitive, and what I particularly like is that I have always found it easy to set up users. I’ve so far not had any difficulty with this. We send them the invitation, we attach the documents and when the meeting starts everyone can view the meeting papers. The fact that you have access to previous meetings and all relevant documents including Resolutions and to have everything stored in one place is excellent. I had a conversation with my CEO about Convene since I was concerned that we were not using the system to its full potential, and that we should make full use of the system to justify the investment. At that point we were taking very high volumes of paper to the Board (400 copies) so that needed to be changed. We started using Convene to handle policies that had to be approved between meetings so we started using Resolutions quite often which is a tool I really like. We have been using this for the last 5 months.
Realistically speaking I had not had the time to be able to find out what the system could do. Because I am the Office Manager and the PA, I have a lot of functions to fulfil. Our last Board meeting was in July, so this was when we decided to send all the papers by Resolution. Having all the comments in the same place was very helpful as well because its important for the Director of Finance and the Operations Director to have access to comments because they are always part of our Board Meetings. We don’t have the endless emails that was previously the case. I used to send emails in batches because we had a size limitation so that was arduous. Our CEO finds the Comments feature especially useful.
I looked at quite a number, however I shortlisted Convene, BoardEffect, Diligent and Board Bookit(?)
One immediate bonus was that my CEO was already comfortable with Convene and required no training! I found a website which compared solutions, and Convene scored highly on that one. Convene sat roughly on the same line with the other systems we looked at, but at the end we made the decision to implement Convene based upon reputation, existing customer feedback and cost.
Aside from the fact that we felt we should be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, the situation pre Convene was too cumbersome. I am also very anti paper waste, however I do sometimes like to read from an actual document, but paper waste, email traffic and being able to have a single repository for important information were the three main considerations. In Board meetings I take the minutes, but I really do not like having to take comments down, as it’s not always possible to guarantee their accuracy in all situations, since things can sometimes be lost in translation.
We have gone from 6 to a Board of 9 members currently. We have (extra licenses?) for the Director of Finance and Operations Director who are always present. The Board meets approximately every two months, but there are also unscheduled meetings that occur for example a budget review meeting. We can schedule these with fourteen day’s advance notice. The Board now has quite a few sub groups for example Audit and Risk, Remuneration committees, three sub committees at the moment are running and we started using Convene for these ones also.
I have been using the Document Library a lot recently. I have approximately 17 folders, sub folders etc containing previous meeting papers and all other important information. I began by uploading the meeting papers before realising that it was possible to drag and drop them! I also realised that there was a button on the interface that said START MEETING which I had also not used previously. I plan to do a dry run of a meeting with a colleague to see how we can make use of Convene’s full functionality.
Security is of course critical in all situations, but this was not the main reason we chose to move to digital originally, but when I was comparing Convene with the others we considered, one example of customer feedback made mention of how secure a system Convene was.
My CEO takes a lot of notes, and it’s always good to be able to go back and refer to them. If the meetings are too long then we would get what needs to be approved via Resolutions which is a very useful feature.
We do have a few people from different boroughs for example Tower Hamlets, Hackney etc and their IT departments are incredibly secure. I had a lot of conversations with them to give them assurances that Convene was a secure system. There was a bedding down period of about 5 months but people have got used to the system well. When I was on leave recently I left a lot of very detailed handover notes with my assistant, however I neglected to give her the system information for Convene. She is a person who can be nervous when it comes to technology, however she was able to use the Convene system on her own minus any instructions! She did a great job!
We began working from home on the 18th March and began using Teams. Initially people were rebelling against it but it soon became a case of not being able to live without it. I was very pleased that we had Convene in place 6 months prior to that. We were going to have a system in place with or without Covid, but I can say that Convene has helped a lot in the current situation.
I’m very quick to criticise! But I haven’t yet found a need to do so with Convene! I have been very impressed by the level of Account Management and Customer service. I find that any queries I have are dealt with swiftly and effectively, and I always make a point of thanking your support teams for their good work.
If you’re considering using Convene, or just want some more information, simply fill out the form below or give us a call on:
United Kingdom: 0800 088 5517 France: +33 186262736 Belgium: +32 38 08 01 22 Greece: +30 2111 988 980 Romania: +40 316300283
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