University of Toronto: Meeting the Needs of Students and the Environment

The University of Toronto is a pre-eminent public research university and the largest institution of higher learning in Canada with more than 87,000 students in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Established in 1827, the University has delivered on its objective to give its students the ability to think clearly, judge objectively, and contribute constructively to society. Some of the world’s greatest advancements in science have come out of the institution’s programs, including the development of insulin and stem cell research. The University of Toronto has been a Diligent Boards™ client since 2011.

BACKGROUND

The University of Toronto is a decentralized institution. The University’s senior governing board, the Governing Council, consists of 50 members and oversees all aspects of the university — from academic issues to business and student affairs. Supplementing the Governing Council are three boards, two campus councils and 18 committees consisting of more than 300+ people.

CHALLENGE

Each year the Governing Council and its boards and committees review hundreds of documents and thousands of pages of critical information. Gearing up for meetings, the former Secretary of the Governing Council, Louis Charpentier, and his team created hefty meeting packets that were hundred sof pages in length. Each had to be printed, collated and ultimately delivered to members. The whole process took several days to complete depending on the size of the board or committee. In the process, it consumed most of the time of two full-time staffers and cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Charpentier knew there had to be a better way. He needed a solution that could reduce costs, increase process efficiency, and improve his team’s productivity. He also had to find a solution that the members of the Governing Council and its boards and committees actually would use. So Charpentier and his team proposed an idea: Go paperless by going digital. He had seen Diligent Boards at an industry trade show and strongly encouraged the Council to consider adopting it.

APPROACH

Diligent Boards, which is commonly used by corporate boards, is now increasingly leveraged by university and college governance bodies, along with foundations/endowments, to provide board members with secure and easy access to online documents anytime, anywhere and from any device.

Although many organizations had successfully adopted Diligent Boards, Charpentier noted, “It was daunting to switch from paper to digital. We have a huge number of members, and not all of them were necessarily comfortable with the technology.”

To ensure a smooth transition to Diligent Boards, Charpentier decided to phase out paper-based materials over a year’s time, rolling out Diligent’s solution in three waves, eventually covering the Governing Council and all other boards and committees. The transition to Diligent Boards went smoothly until, after 12 months, all 300+ members had transitioned to the online solution.

RESULTS

Today, Diligent Boards serves as the foundation for communication for the Governing Council of the University of Toronto helping. The institution also realized a range of benefits: By switching to Diligent, the University of Toronto succeeded in cutting costs, improving process efficiency and increasing the productivity of the Secretary’s team. Diligent Boards proved much more convenient for members, who no longer had to transport heavy paper packages. In addition, members could easily access and mark up digital versions of materials from their laptops and tablets.

Now, thanks to Diligent Boards, meeting materials can be assembled into a meeting pack in minutes, not days. Instead of express mailing printed board materials to 300+ members up to 125 times per year, board and committee materials are now published and distributed instantly. This new method cuts process time further and results in greater labor savings, as well as cost savings for the University from going paperless and eliminating mailings. What’s more, Diligent worked with the University to add special features to the solution that allowed them to meet accessibility requirements.

Members benefit, too. They now receive meeting materials more quickly and have that much more time to prepare fully for their meetings.

“This transition has saved tens of thousands of pieces of paper every year,” said Charpentier. “We have reduced our paper consumption by 80 percent. And now our staffers’ time is freed up to work on more rewarding tasks.” Charpentier continued, “I’d recommend Diligent to any institution looking to move from paper to digital. I’d never
go back.”

  • Louis Charpentier

    Former Secretary of the Governing Council

    I’d recommend Diligent to any institution looking to move from paper to digital. I’d never go back.
  • This transition has saved us tens of thousands of pieces of paper every year. We have reduced our paper consumption by 80 percent.