Exeter College provides tertiary education for around 10,000 – 12,000 students. The college was established in 1970 as the first tertiary college in the UK, bringing together the former grammar schools’ sixth forms and Exeter Technical College.
With a board of around 20 governors including students, staff members and external members, it was essential that the college could deliver board papers to each member in a timely and consistent manner. Furthermore, the college needed a system that would allow for last minute updates by the administrative team prior to meetings and to accommodate for some members working in differing time zones.
Barbara Sweeney, Clerk to the Corporation, Exeter College, commented: “There were two main drivers behind our engagement with eShare and their paperless meetings solution; BoardPacks. At a recent annual appraisal, several of our board members, from both the private and public sectors, advised that whilst papers were reaching them in a timely fashion, it could be difficult to access them when working nationally or internationally. This meant they were often unable to review them until they returned to Exeter.
“In addition, if the board member was not at home when we posted the papers out, they might be sent back to the sorting office, which again would cause delays in them being reviewed.
“With twenty-plus packs being printed for governors and senior management, the printing and postage costs were also a huge concern. We estimated printing and postage costs were around £5,000 – £6,000 each year and by sending these ahead of a meeting, we were risking some of the data, particularly the financials, being out of date by the time the meeting came around.”
Exeter College was recommended BoardPacks, which is an easy to use board portal app for iPad. The application allows users to access all meeting information, documents and agendas securely. Documents and board packs become interactive, allowing board members to make notes whilst on the move. This flexibility allows staff and governors to focus on meaningful activities such as the provision of excellent teaching.
The solution has been easy to use, and since integrating BoardPacks’ solution between March and May, Exeter College is already seeing a number of other benefits too.
Sweeney explains: “The solution has been universally welcomed and one of the biggest benefits is that we’re able to be more green – and make substantial savings on paper and printing costs. It’s also invaluable that we’re able to be more flexible when members are working away from home so they are still able to review and update the papers once they’ve been changed. We can now make last-minute changes, upload and advise members and once refreshed, they can instantly review the latest version.
“Fundamentally, the ability to annotate documents has been crucial, enabling more effective and efficient decision-making,” concludes Sweeney.
Exeter College was able to use their own SharePoint server to implement the on-site solution. After simple training, they were able to set up the online papers. After initially trialing BoardPacks with the audit committee, alongside having a hard copy of the board packs, all of the members really took to using the solution on their iPads.