Convene Customer Success

NHS Confederation

Raksha Kumar, Governance Manager at the NHS Confederation, talks to us about how Convene has helped their Board and committee meetings.

Image: Lord Victor Adebowale, Chair NHS Confederation

"Convene has made life easier, our data safer and it’s made our trustees become digitally aligned which would not have been the case had we not had it in place."

The NHS Confederation is the membership organisation that brings together, supports and speaks for the whole healthcare system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please describe your Board/Senior Management structure and meeting patterns?

We have 5 board meetings annually and committee meetings as well as sub committees. Most of our attendees are also on Convene for sub committees. We have the Board, the audit committee the investment committee (which is soon going to become the Finance and Operations committee) and the remuneration committee. There is crossover with some of our committee members since some also sit on the Board. Convene is used for all Board papers though some still like information emailed to them although I know that we should stop doing that.

The Executive meetings happen on a weekly basis so 14 times a year at least. There are typically 12 members in these meetings. At the moment we have 12 Board members but our max board size will be 15. We are yet to adopt the new articles and by laws before our Board reaches maximum size.

We are about 240 employees, spread across different locations: London, Cardiff and Belfast. The good thing about it is that people who do not have the ability to use alternative methods for information share as a result of the pandemic for example email find that Convene has stepped into the breach.

The day of the board meetings were always stressful because you would be faced with ad hoc requests of all sorts on the actual day which meant you had to wait until the very last minute to print off the paper packs because it was only possible to print off a certain number of papers in any one day. Our board papers are approx. 12-15 papers per meeting pack, and sometimes we would be dealing with 200 pages in one pack once all the appendices etc had been taken into account. We do cram a lot into our meeting packs!

How did your board members originally take to Convene?

Convene is a user-friendly system, but with the kind of charity membership organisation that we are, we do have a number of more traditional trustees who prefer paper based but things obviously do change. I’m trying to get everyone to use Convene but it can take a while to get everybody on board. There is always an adjustment period. We have some Board members who like to use Convene because of its many features and some who preferred paper board packs until about 2 years ago. Because of the pandemic, we will never go back to paper days in the same way which is a good thing.

Given the current situation, how has Convene helped to support remote working?

Since the pandemic Board members ability to share information has of course been extremely difficult, so they have really appreciated having a system in place that has enabled them to work effectively under exceptionally challenging circumstances. We were given 15 licenses last year as part of Convene’s business continuity planning proposal and it is the case that we may not have made use of them, since there wasn’t a need for them at that time. But now that I can see what the system does for us, I see a real benefit to investing in additional licenses due to the fact that progressively more and more people here are using Convene.

Has Convene enhanced your security?

Security is a key consideration for us is and Convene provides that data security which is why I am very keen to get everyone using it. If some of our employees are using both email/paper and some are using Convene, the security element will be reduced which is obviously not a good thing.

In July 2019 it was a case of sending everything out on email and then uploading to Convene for the three people who might be using the system. It’s a very different picture now, I use Convene on a weekly basis, not only five times per annum. It is definitely not a system that sits in the background, and I feel more comfortable as far as security is concerned because I am also the Data Protection lead for the confederation, and for the Remuneration committee. If there was a paper that fell into the wrong hands, it would have serious implications, so that’s another reason why I wish everybody would just use Convene!

Are there any features of Convene you find particularly effective?

It’s easy to make amendments to a document that has already gone out, so the system allows for transparency. This is not something you can do on email. Once documents have been circulated on email, going back and advising of any changes after the fact is a difficult process. I have used the Review Room, and I like the fact that you can add reminders etc. There are many functions that I could be using on Convene for example allocating and tracking actions. If we were using Convene only, then I would be able to make better use of the system. A number of our trustees like to be able to make annotations. Convene has made it possible for them to achieve.



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