Customer Stories

Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

How OnBoard helped the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education become more efficient and free up board members for more strategic work.

Industry: Civil Service – Education

Headquarters: London, U.K

Board Management Goals

  • Secure, permission-based access to content
  • Central repository for documents and decision logs
  • Ability to collaboratively review and comment on agendas in advance of meetings
  • Enhanced communication outside of meetings
  • 2x-3x efficiency gains


  • 2x-3x efficiency
  • Security and peace-of-mind
  • Meeting time freed up for more strategic work – better use of attendees’ time

An in-depth public/private education collaboration

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is an arms-length body, sponsored by the Department for Education. It has a unique role in the U.K. educational landscape, putting employers at the heart of the development of high-quality apprenticeships, T Levels and other technical education products.

“We function as the voice of employers, ensuring that apprenticeships and technical education products meet the needs of their industries,” says Gaetan Cotton, the Institute’s Senior Services Designer. His role is to bridge the gap between strategy and delivery, between the work of the Institute and the external stakeholders who engage in its business processes.

“We have around 150 external employers collaborating with us on the development of apprenticeships and technical education products,” Gaetan explains. “They work in groups called ‘route panels’, which represent England’s 15 major industry sectors. The panels meet every eight weeks to review hundreds of pages of documents that detail occupations in those sectors and the development, training and assessment that apprentices and learners need to become competent in those occupations.”

“As a government organisation, managing communication and data securely is our priority. The OnBoard platform gives us peace of mind as well as improved business continuity – securely bridging what happens before meetings, during meetings and after.”

— Gaetan Cotton, Senior Service Designer The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education


Identifying the right tool to streamline, secure and engage

The Institute Membership Team took a rigorous approach to identifying the right tool to streamline and support the route panels’ work. The goals for the platform included improving the efficiency and effectiveness of route panel meetings, business processes and decision-making by:

  • Providing one-stop access to meeting papers, decision logs and panel dashboards previously delivered via email
  • Engaging panel Members in panel business outside of meetings and enabling feedback on agenda items to be shared in advance of meetings
  • Streamlining current processes for communicating and sharing information to make it easier for Members to access and engage (as a community) with panel business outside of meetings
  • Creating opportunities for panels to connect with each other and with the Institute through community debate and one-to-one conversations#

A deliberate beginning for a quick implementation

After vetting multiple solutions, the Institute Membership Team selected OnBoard Board Management Software to meet its needs. “A test site was offered for our pilot, free of charge, which was really important,” says Cotton. “And we are grateful for the flexibility and the support that we have received from the UK customer success team. They need a medal for both their patience and diligence in helping us set up those sites, understand the training that was required, and getting us the documentation needed to induct our staff and platform users.” While the initial process began slowly with in-depth discussions and planning, implementation itself was speedy. “We had full implementation in about one month. A year ago, we started a conversation; we had the build-up through March, and in April we were fully operational. It was really important for us to take the time up front to create the trust, support, and understanding needed to build a solid foundation for successful implementation.”

“My colleagues are getting the most benefit from the platform as a way to automatically create the agenda and meeting pack/book. That is invaluable.”


— Gaetan Cotton, Senior Service Designer The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education

Automation breeds efficiency

The benefits have been pronounced for the 150 internal staff who prepare the meeting and the documents the panels scrutinise, Cotton explains. “My colleagues are getting the most benefit from the platform as a way to automatically create the agenda and meeting pack/book. That is invaluable. The platform has also generated security and process improvements that are in the realm of 2 or 3 times more efficient.” Cotton estimates that with OnBoard, the Institute saves hundreds of hours from the elimination of manual document management and PDF creation for meetings.

“I can say that it has been appreciated by all people who attend the meetings,” Cotton says of the OnBoard platform, “because it simply works. That is something you can put in big bold letters: IT WORKS. It does the job that it is asked to do, and it is reliable, engaging and pretty intuitive.”

A partnership that enhances outcomes

Working with the Customer Success Team, the Institute has even extended the OnBoard platform’s technical parameters. “The trust and understanding that we have built with the Customer Success team,” Cotton declares, “has been second to none. It has allowed us to expand the functionality of the resource folders to accept Microsoft project files and other file types that are needed for our specific work as with education advisors. That has been difficult in a way technically for OnBoard to manage and was implemented a couple of months ago, but it is used every day.” The Institute has devoted the time freed from rote manual tasks to allow more time for strategic conversation in route panel meetings in order to improve outcomes. “That is important,” Cotton states. “If you are less concerned about technical problems, less concerned about getting access to the right content, at the right time, seeing your agenda progress, you can concentrate and focus on what matters the most, and that is the content, the substance of what we do and the decisions we the route panels – because those decisions have a big impact for employer.
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