National Education Union Secretary, DR Mary Bousted

Convene Customer Success

Education Union

Kathy Monah, Head of Information Systems, talked to us about the challenges of putting together paper meeting packs before Convene and how she made sure the transition to digital was as smooth as possible.

Picture: General Secretary, Dr Mary Bousted

The National Education Union is a trade union for school teachers in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It represents the largest number of qualified and qualifying teachers in England and Wales. The NEU has been using Convene since September 2016.
Reduced Preparation Time and Paper Consumption

Two weeks before each meeting we would prepare the meeting packs and send them to our dispatch office. They would then collate them, print them off and then post them to our 35 executive members. Then when they arrived to the office, they would often want another copy.

These were big packs too! We’re not talking about something you can put in an envelope and send through the normal post - we had to send them as a package. The number of pages varied, but we printed the packs to A5 paper and the booklets could be 1 inch to 1.5 inches for big meetings.

More often than not, if all the papers weren’t ready, the dispatch office would have to send the rest as a smaller package, sometimes just days before the meeting.

Also when the executive members came in for the meeting, they would ask for another copy, because the packs were too heavy or they had other things to bring. And finally, some colleagues would take additional copies to these meetings to ensure that everyone attending had a copy. We essentially had about three copies running around at any one time!

Easy and Intuitive

We’d been thinking about going paperless for over a decade. No one quite took it on board and it never really took off. At one point the meeting packs had been uploaded to the website, but it wasn’t a secure option. People still preferred the paper process described above, so we didn’t save anything, we just added a new process.

Our recently appointed General Secretary asked us to find a digital solution to reduce paper usage. After the initial online demo, my first thought was that Convene looks a lot simpler than everything else. Our Account Manager then held an onsite demo for a group of staff who, I would consider my champions, because if they say that it’s not going to work for us then I trust them.

"They thought it was straightforward and it delivered."

Every time I bring on a new meeting organiser and I show them what to do, they always ask, “Is that it then?”! Convene is that simple to start using.
Transition from Physical to Digital

We set a hard deadline for our executive members to stop using paper by Easter. We had to push it back from December, because we were quite busy with our merger.

We’ve managed to convert at least 90% of the executive team. There’s still two or three who are hanging on. It’s not so bad printing a meeting pack for two or three people. Sometimes we have to remind the administrative staff to continue using Convene. A transition period is tricky as we are technically running our old and new processes side by side.

More Than Just a Digital Solution

It does take time to get used to change yet sometimes it can make certain processes so simple right away. When we went about the procurement process, we mainly wanted to get rid of paper in meetings but Convene solves a number of other problems. For example, when we had information that was deemed private or confidential, we had to distribute those papers right before the start of a meeting and collect them right after.

Distributing confidential information is far more straightforward and less time consuming with Convene. It’s as simple as uploading the document then taking it off the system when the meeting is over, and that’s it.

I’m sure that all the other products could do the same thing but it’s simpler and more manageable in Convene.

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