Newquay Town Council is a relatively new local authority, established as recently as 1987. For most of its existence, the organisation has experienced steady but slow growth and was able to manage it effortlessly. In the past few years, however, things shifted dramatically as Newquay Town Council had to take on a number of new statutory duties. To handle the increasing volume of work, the staff was expanded to 47 employees.
The growth was unexpected and presented new, unique challenges that we discussed with Callum Rowley, the organisation’s IT Service Manager.
The need for a change
As the Council was expanding, the communication gap between members and constituents widened. Decisions, actions, meetings—much of the important information was announced on paper and wasn’t reaching many of Newquay’s 60,000 citizens.
It was time to try and engage them digitally.
“[In the past year], we've tried to create our digital engagement with our constituents. Our main aspect of all the technology that we've been adopting recently is to better engage and communicate more so we can be a bit more transparent.”
But external communication wasn’t the only issue. Internal communication was also a challenge because it relied on a time-consuming paper-based process. Organising a Committee Meeting, for example, meant a full day’s work for two members as well as the printing of dozens of sheets of paper.
As you can probably imagine, this also resulted in a significant carbon footprint. As Mr Rowley said,
“We do use a few hundred thousand pieces of paper every single year which, from looking into it, equated to about 63 trees in a year. We're currently trying to review our climate strategy quite deeply and, of course, cutting down 63 trees every year just for the way the Council conducts meetings isn't sustainable. [This number] would increase in the future years with more activities and more services that we would have to provide. ”
Newquay Town Council needed the right technology to digitalise its meetings, while also opening them to the public.
The search for a suitable solution was a bit more difficult than expected as there weren’t many options. Finally, the Council decided to go with iBabs, after taking advantage of the free trial.
What was it like to implement iBabs?
Adoption was easy because no new hardware was necessary
Members and staff already had a wide variety of devices that were used in meetings. So, one of the main concerns was to find a solution that was compatible with all of the existing equipment and wouldn’t require the purchase of new hardware.
Since iBabs runs on all platforms, members were able to continue working with the devices they were used to.
The need for IT support was reduced
The IT team found that iBabs required minimal maintenance which was especially important in a diverse, fast-growing team. Members and staff didn’t require a lot of support because they found the solution intuitive.
“It was quite simple to keep maintained and it was quite simple for members. When I approached [staff and members] with the platform, they were more than happy to try it and, as far as I'm aware, none of them have had any issues at all. It's the simplicity and the user experience which the platform offers that are quite superb.”
In fact, when the constant printing stopped, the printers within the organisation became less likely to need repairs.
The Council Became More Flexible
iBabs allows the Town Council to run meetings in any location they choose. The app works on mobile devices as well as desktop computers and all that members need is to be logged in to iBabs.
“We literally have everything that we need at the tap of our fingertips. If we have to relocate a meeting due to, say, extreme weather in Newquay, we can do it. We can just unplug our iPads and move.”
What are the results?
The Deputy Town Clerk Saves 6 Days a Month
Newquay Town Council conducts seven meetings per month and, with iBabs, they are now able to prepare for a meeting in one hour, instead of seven. This means that they are saving six full workdays every month.
Before iBabs, the Deputy Town Clerk had to spend a full day preparing the agenda and getting it approved by Council Members. Now, this task takes no more than one hour and everything is done within the iBabs app. Members can review all related documents on the go, on any device. There is no need to print the agenda or the accompanying files.
During the meeting, minutes and decisions are recorded instantly through the iBabs time-saving template. After the meeting, the related files are distributed securely to all stakeholders.
“Previously [the Deputy Town Clerk] was spending a full day on preparing the agenda and getting it ready in order to get approval from our members. It's come from an all-day task to a task that takes about an hour.So, that is saving the Council a lot of time and a lot of money, in that respect.
Trees are being spared
After adopting iBabs, Newquay Town Council’s meetings are all paperless. There is no need for printing because the stakeholders can see the agenda, together with all relevant files, right in the app.
“The Council won't be printing any papers for its members. If they want papers, they have to print them themselves. Otherwise, they've got iBabs.”
It’s Finally Possible To Track Performance
Using iBabs’ Actions function, members can review any outstanding actions, at any time, without having to go through the entire report of the previous meeting. This allows Newquay Town Council to keep track of their progress and to assess the results they’ve achieved.
“It helps our members better view what our day to day works like and support us in how we're going to be able to move forward to achieve more.”
What Newquay Town Council Says About iBabs
At Newquay Town Council, many new initiatives are underway and there is little time to adopt a complicated piece of software, let alone support all members and staff in using it. That’s why the organisation values iBabs’ simplicity above all else.
“Through all the software that I've been bringing to the Council for the past five years, this has been by far the most efficient. It's quite user-friendly, whereas, with previous [tools], I always had to sit down with every single individual, do quite in-depth explanations and go through how the software works multiple times. I haven't had to do it with this platform.”
If you, too, are looking to reduce your meeting preparation time, you can request a free iBabs demo here.