Powering more efficient meetings for Electricity North West
“Bringing energy to your door” is the tagline of Electricity North West, a company that owns, operates and maintains the United Kingdom’s electricity distribution network in the northwest corner of the country. The utility player connects about 2.4 million properties and more than 5 million people in the region to the national grid. Electricity North West began using Diligent Boards™ in January 2015.
Electricity North West is actually several companies based around a single operating entity. The board is made up of nine individuals in total: four appointed by shareholders, three non-executives and two executives. Board members meet at least six times a year formally and several times “ad hoc” when the need arises to review operational issues.
At first, like most companies, Electricity North West used traditional paper-based packs to support their board meetings. Those reports could contain up to 500 pages and there were a host of other issues: last-minute changes were problematic, and human error often impacted the integrity of the data held within packs. Three years ago, the company decided to leave behind the drudgery of paper and adopt a digital approach instead.
Electricity North West initially switched to an alternative board portal provider in January 2013 but found they were still experiencing difficulties creating board materials after using it for several months. According to Electricity North West’s Company Secretary, Karen O’Donnell, there were issues with the system consistently crashing, as well as a lack of support. In addition, the administrator module lacked a drag-and-drop capability so if any material needed to be re-ordered, it resulted in “going back to the drawing board” and uploading information from the beginning.
According to O’Donnell, “Instead of saving us time, this system was wasting it. I was spending every Saturday night before meetings handling panicked phone calls from executives who couldn’t access critical material.”
O’Donnell worked tirelessly to convince her board they needed a change. She had used Diligent Boards in a former position and knew the solution featured the functionality the Electricity North West executives needed.
Despite still having time remaining on the agreement with the original solution, O’Donnell convinced the board to consider switching to Diligent Boards. To satisfy the need for due diligence, the secretariat looked at other competitive solutions but found that none of them offered as many features as Diligent Boards.
One of the key functionalities O’Donnell looked for was annotations. With the sheer volume of information each pack contained, executives needed a way to find key data points quickly and seamlessly, which was something they couldn’t do with the old online system.
As a result of switching from a competitor solution to Diligent Boards, Electricity North West has saved significant administrative time compiling critical board information. And compared to creating paper-based books, Diligent Boards cut production time in half. What’s more, usage of the solution is spreading throughout the organisation, from board executives to non-executives and their support staff.
O’Donnell’s own favourite feature is the questionnaire function. When critical questions arise, instead of having to create a spreadsheet and manually tally responses, the Diligent Boards solution can automate that process.
“Diligent represents a step change for us. It’s the sheer simplicity of it that makes it better than any other solution on the market,” noted O’Donnell. “It’s easy to use. And the service we receive is flawless.”
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