Located approximately 45 kilometres southeast of Vancouver, B.C., Langley School District provides services to students residing in the Katzie, Kwantlen and Matsqui First Nations, the City of Langley and the Township of Langley. A sustainable solution to reducing paper use and streamlining meetings is essential to the School District’s vision of being an innovative, inspiring and unified learning community.

School-Board-Office_Langley

The Challenge

Langley School District needed a paperless system to streamline meeting processes for their 2,500 staff and 20,000 students. Laurie Mason, Executive Assistant to the Secretary Treasurer, wanted to find a system that was in keeping with their “Sustainable Digital Transformation”, which includes a 35% print reduction in 5 years.

Redundant, Inefficient, Expensive, Stressful

Before eSCRIBE, the meeting process was all paper based: approval process, copying, collating. This was a heavy burden on staff, who worked on tight deadlines with strict format and guidelines, and often worked right up to the courier arriving at the door. With 55 meeting packages per meeting and an average of 100 pages each, plus the additional courier costs, the costs in inefficiencies and burden on staff were staggering. Not to mention the huge amount of stress that placed the staff under. “This was very time consuming, and highly dependent on external factors, such as the copier being able to work at its optimum capability and functioning well, to finding a courier that was willing to wait for you while you reprinted,” said Mason. “Furthermore, delivery can be a headache. Packages that were expected to arrive at a certain time could be delayed a few days because of delivery schedules of the courier. That meant meeting participants had less time to prepare for the meetings.”

Time for a Sustainable Transformation

The process began with the Board of Education’s motion made at the Regular Board Meeting of May 15, 2012 stating:

…that the Board request staff look into the possibility of the Langley Board of Education functioning as a paperless Board and report back with the options, costs, policy implications and an implementation plan at the September 2012 Regular Board meeting.

“After paring the shortlist down to 3 meeting management solution providers, I surveyed my colleagues out in the system to determine what software they used and to provide any feedback on their experience with it,” said Mason. “The feedback I received was that the programs of the main competitors to eSCRIBE were very cumbersome, hard to use, constantly had problems, and they had to continually rebuild the program because of common issues. eSCRIBE users that I spoke with were very pleased with the software and the company support team. They seemed very happy with their choice.”

The Solution

Desktop computers in Langley's office using eSCRIBE softwareThe eSCRIBE meeting management solution puts everything at their fingertips — instantly and securely, consolidated and archived. No more collating hundreds of pages while the courier waits at the door. No more costs for paper, printing and colour graphics. No more searching for hard copies of archived material. What’s more, meeting participants are not bound by physical location, enabling Board members and the Leadership Team to have access to information from anywhere, at any time, and to collaborate on meeting notes and agendas. And eSCRIBE is secure, tailored to the Canadian user. “Our Superintendent liked the fact that eSCRIBE uses a Canadian server. Both the other shortlisted vendors use U.S. servers; their freedom of information is very different from Canada, and that was a concern for us,” says Mason. Besides the Superintendent, the Director of IT was also involved when making their decision.

“Our IT Director liked eSCRIBE’s implementation plan, it was a smoother, easier plan compared with the others, and there was minimal support required from the IT Department than expected, so the vote was unanimous to move forward with eSCRIBE.”

The Results

Since adopting the eSCRIBE solution, Langley School District has realized the following benefits:

  • Preparation time for meetings has been drastically cut and staff morale is much higher without the punishing print deadlines.
  • The School District is on track to exceed their Sustainable Transformation goal of a 35% reduction in paper by eliminating the use of paper and ink for agendas and report packages.
  • Huge cost reduction was a surprise bonus (it was not the initial driver). These funds can be utilized elsewhere in the system as School District’s always run on a very tight budget.
  • Automated processes help eliminate the risk of human errors.
  • Approvals are fast, easy, and approver does not need to be onsite, eliminating long delays.
  • Reports can be started at any time, anywhere and staff can continue to build on it collaboratively.
  • Search features make retrieving archived information instantaneous, increasing workflow productivity.
  • The number of meetings went up in 2013, as the number of committee types increased from 3 to 7 and reports have increased from 80 pages to over 200 — the meeting management processes would have made meeting prep/follow-up a full-time job if we hadn’t switched to eSCRIBE.
  • Support staff at eSCRIBE are friendly, helpful and patient, contributing to the smooth transition.

Laurie Mason_BCSDEA

Laurie Mason, Executive Assistant to the Secretary Treasurer

Automation was key. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Mason. “If I type a motion into the agenda, it automatically populates the minutes. That was huge to me: risk of error is significantly reduced.” Looking down the road, “we’re looking forward to using more and more of the eSCRIBE features. We are currently investigating video streaming, linking to videos, recording meetings and implementing an electronic voting process for meetings,” concludes Laurie. “Our meeting processes have been drastically transformed for the better, and we’ve been very impressed with the service eSCRIBE has provided.”