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Convene Customer Success

Lapworth Parish Council

We spoke to Clive Henderson - elected Parish Councillor Lapworth Parish Council - about the benefits they have seen after implementing Convene, and how Convene supported them during the pandemic.

“Convene was future proofed, and was a system that could be developed further on to meet our needs.


What does your meeting calendar consist of in each institution?

The Parish council (comprised of nine elected parish councillors, one clerk, two district councillors and one county councillor) meets once a month.

In the College there are twenty Governors. Most of our senior staff attend with varying frequency with some attending every meeting and others less. In the college our 5-6 sub committees meet four times annually and college corporation board meets nine times annually. Convene is used for meetings across these areas.

What were your original reasons for moving to a digital solution?

Our Board packs ran to two hundred plus pages. We were aware of a need to reduce our paper consumption, plus we were keen to increase the efficiency of our meeting preparation process, and to run more effective meetings as a result of this. We were also keen to find a solution to late paper submissions in order to prevent disruption to meeting preparation. It was important for our attendees to benefit from smoothly run meetings.

The parish council receives endless emails with numerous agenda items including planning applications. Many emails came through in the month and we had to dart around locating the required meeting documents in numerous email attachments. Now, all documents are easily accessible within the Convene agenda function.

What were your reasons for choosing Convene?

Convene was future proofed, and was a system that could be developed further on to meet our needs. Some of the others we considered appealed visually, but did not offer the long-term value add that Convene offered. I am not an IT expert, and for the college, I work with Convene as a user, whereas for the Parish Council my role is that of an administrator, so I am in the position of seeing the system from both angles which is both illuminating and interesting.

With Convene, meeting papers were saved in a convenient form and could be accessed from multiple platforms, further simplifying the process. The fact that Convene is an archiving system, storing past papers accessible via the search function is an additional benefit.

Which features did you find particularly beneficial, and how did Convene help your meeting process?

I was instantly attracted to the Document Library, plus the ability to make notes using sticky notes etc on Notes and Annotations. With the Document Library, it’s enormously helpful for storing a wide range of documents, especially policy documents some of which are standing documents approved. It’s very helpful for us to be able to store them on Convene.

Thanks to Convene, hefty Board packs are now a thing of the past! Convene provides instant access to documents and it has removed the uncertainty as to which paper is stored where, and the need to spend time sifting through information held in previous packs going to locate information. It has resolved the problem of manual page numbering going awry due to Convene’s ability to automatically paginate meeting papers.

How has Convene helped both your organisations manage during the pandemic?

We would not have been able to function without it either in the parish council or the college! We had to make rapid decisions early on in order to carry on as normal as much as possible. In person meetings were not possible and the time saving afforded by Convene has been invaluable during these times.

Additionally, due to the pandemic, people wanted to extend their properties as opposed to moving to new ones. There were a lot of attachments that had to be viewed on the council website pre meeting containing complicated documents, accompanied by site and architects’ drawings all from different perspectives.

All attachments are now uploaded to Convene prior to meetings, making them fully visible to all relevant individuals. The Document Library comes in to its own in this regard, providing us with the ability to review any applications retrospectively if for example a planning application is turned down. Convene makes such a complicated process considerably easier. The accessible audit trail it provides is invaluable for example if a document from a particular meeting needs to be uploaded. Convene has untold power for us in this area. I am very happy to be an ambassador and to recommend it to others.

How was Convene received by both institutions?

At the outset, a fifty per cent consensus was required in order to implement a system. There were the expected teething problems in months one and two but by month three there would have been considerable resistance if we removed Convene. It was making everyone’s lives easier and saving us so much time.

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