Colin Bailey, President & Principal - Queen Mary- University

Convene Customer Success

Queen Mary University 

Nadine Lewycky, Governance Officer at Queen Mary University, gave us her insight into why they went with Convene, the implementation process and how it gave the Governance team their valuable time.

Image: Colin Bailey, President & Principal

Queen Mary University of London is a global leading University which can trace its roots back to the great charitable institutions of London’s East End. Now an international hub of education and research excellence, Queen Mary is also committed to addressing its environmental, social and economic impacts in order to build a sustainable future.
Why we needed to switch to digital meetings

Previously we provided information or papers to those committees in hard-copy or paper format. This was time-consuming, expensive and not really practical for members, many of whom are external to the university. We had to post them out and they would have to carry large packs of paper around so we wanted to find a solution that would be more efficient.

For the most recent meeting, we had about 400 pages worth. But it’s always upwards of 200 pages for council meetings. Some other committees have less, but they are 100 pages at a minimum, so the preparation time and money invested is substantial. Most of our members use tablets or laptops in meetings already so there was no need to have an additional paper pack. Essentially, we wanted to improve the processes supporting the governance structure at the university.

"From an administrator perspective, we were after something that would make it easier for us to manage papers coming in, update the versions, manage publications, and to collate documents into a simple, single agenda. Most importantly, we wanted the system to make the process easier for us and not an additional job".

Simple and intuitive functionality

From a user perspective what made Convene stand out for us, was just how easy it is to find where your documents are for a meeting and then annotate them directly. When we started looking for a digital solution, the first thing that stood out for us was the layout and appearance.

It was very clean, everything was clearly labelled making it very easy to navigate. It does what it says it does.

We also found it very intuitive to have all the papers in one place, it bears a resemblance to Adobe Acrobat Reader, so people who were already familiar with that software went into Convene and picked it up in no time. The feedback we’ve had from the committee has just been very positive. They have particularly highlighted how easy it is to navigate around a pack, click through the agenda and sign off papers.

Rapid adaptation across the Governing board

Switching from paper to digital was, overall, quite quick. I’ve only been at the institution for a little over a year, but I think there had been discussions about getting a board portal and the members of the governing body were quite keen on it.

There was a lot of incentive to get on board. The other reason that we did move quickly was that committee starts in September. We wanted to start the committee year with Convene up and running.

The other option would have been to have taken our time with it to make sure everything was perfect before implementing it. Our perspective was to just start using it by getting the people who are more tech-savvy onto it right away and then try and get everyone else to follow in due course. We made the right decision in that respect, mainly because there was an appetite for it.

Value for money

To other universities looking to make the switch, I would recommend thinking about price for value as budgets are quite tight. Convene was priced lower, compared to the other systems we looked at that were similar in terms of features. It wasn’t the cheapest, because we saw some very basic ones, but the price point for the functionality was attractive.

Other than that, consider ease of use and efficiency from an administrator perspective. You don’t want to duplicate work; you don’t want to suggest something that will make meeting admins do the job twice. Additionally, look for ease of use from an end user perspective. How easy is it to just pick up for meeting attendees?

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