NCVO - National Council for Voluntary

NCVO Reduces Meeting Preparation From Half a Day to 30 mins

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is a membership community for charities, voluntary organisations and community groups in England. NCVO itself includes 35 meeting stakeholders, involved in seven different types of meetings with seven different agenda types. Organising the meetings of the board of trustees, internal trading board, executive team and four committees was a time-consuming process before the organisation turned to iBabs.

The systems in place were complicated and required additional time and effort to ensure the security of the meeting documentation. As a result, NCVO sought a streamlined, secure and intuitive solution that provided additional features to improve the processes around its meetings. This article explains how iBabs met and exceeded the requirements of the organisation.

Meeting procedures before iBabs

Joanna Gray is the executive assistant to the CEO, chair and currently also the governance lead at NCVO. During her first two years in the role, she dedicated herself to finding a way to improve the meeting process that she described as “cumbersome and ineffective.”

She described the system in the following words:

“We used Word documents and then collated them into a PDF pack. Those packs could be quite big, some of them could be 200 pages long. We reduced that by bringing in links to other papers to try and keep it down to 50-60 pages. It was pretty clunky in bringing that all together into a PDF pack.”

Once she had collated the board pack, she would email it to stakeholders. Sending board books by email creates the risk of confidential information getting into the wrong hands, simply by adding an unintended recipient.

Thankfully there were no such incidents, due to Joanna’s eye for detail and the additional checks she would make to maintain the confidentiality of the papers, though this was increasing the workload further.

Another problem with the process was that each paper had an individual reference number and if, at a later date, Joanna needed to insert new papers, she had to re-reference the existing board documents, culminating in a board pack creation process that took several hours.

iBabs as a solution

Joanna said she likes simplicity, and she found the process cumbersome and inefficient, adding she is:

“A big advocate for IT packages and software that can reduce workloads and be more user-friendly for everyone.”

She witnessed presentations from several meeting software suppliers, but iBabs’ meeting management software was a clear favourite. Joanna said:

“Our priorities were having an app that is accessible on multiple devices, is cost-effective and user friendly. Some of the other solutions seemed complicated and were not as easy to use as iBabs.

The end user is imperative to the process, and if they find it confusing or difficult to use, then the use of the platform is not worthwhile. The stand-out for NCVO was certainly the simplicity of iBabs’ platform without having to compromise on features.”

Results of using iBabs

Joanna’s workload significantly reduced following the implementation of iBabs at NCVO. Whereas creating agendas and distributing them took three or more hours before, she said that now:

Developing agendas is much quicker. Pulling together a full pack of papers, ensuring they are easy to retrieve, getting them quality checked and published now takes between 30 and 45 minutes.”

There are many more benefits to using iBabs in addition to the increased efficiency. Version control is much improved and ensuring all stakeholders have access to the papers they need is a much simpler task.

Joanna said:

“The platform guarantees the most up-to-date version of papers is available in each trustee’s account, which is excellent as it reduces manual work. It is easy and safe to share the papers with trustees and I can add in late papers, so trustees always have the information they need at hand.”

Other ways that iBabs has improved NCVO’s processes include the additional security the meeting management platform provides, easy accessibility to documents, ease of set-up and ease of use for all stakeholders. Joanna is particularly happy with the software’s Actions & Decisions feature:

“It's excellent. I’m finding it helpful for keeping track of everyone’s actions. Every month I now send the executive team a list of actions that are still pending or outstanding or overdue’.

We’ve also added this to our monthly agenda item for our executive team’s meeting so they can see visually who has to do what, which it’s brilliant.”

Joanna also found it helpful to upload meeting packs from before NCVO used iBabs and the organisation’s various policy documents to iBabs as a central reference repository for trustees.

Working with iBabs

Joanna described the process of working with iBabs to implement the board management software in NCVO’s workflow as:

“Easy and intuitive, with no follow-up required with trustees. It was a pain-free, positive experience, with iBabs staff being responsive to queries throughout the whole process.”

She was particularly grateful for the opportunity to record training sessions with the iBabs team, allowing her to share with new trustees during onboarding.

When asked what she would tell other assistants seeking a meeting process solution, Joanna said:

“iBabs will save you time and bring together all the documents your trustees will need in the course of their duties into one place that is easy to use. They can comment on papers digitally so they have them to hand when we are at the relevant agenda item.”

How iBabs can help you

iBabs powers more efficient and secure meetings for more than 3,000 organisations across Europe. From local councils and healthcare organisations to corporations and non-profits, the platform enables users to save time writing agendas, collaborate effortlessly in the cloud and store all documents in a secure, centralised repository.

If you want to see how iBabs can transform your organisation, request a demo today.

“It's excellent. I’m finding it helpful for keeping track of everyone’s actions. Every month I now send the executive team a list of actions that are still pending or outstanding or overdue".