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– BUT THE RESULTS SURE COME CLOSE
How Big Brothers & Big Sisters used the internet to streamline their business processes to match volunteers with kids – faster and more cost efﬁciently
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary and Area
Table of Contents
Sharing a Little Magic — 3 What’s Wrong with this Picture? — 4 The Human Factor — 7 The Right Tools for the Right Job — 8 Getting The Job Done — 9 Conclusion — 10
Sharing A Little Magic
In today’s highly competitive internet savvy world, the need for business process automation and the ability to use the internet to streamline business processes is greater than ever before. While the internet can bring your prospective clients to you quickly and easily, the true test of an effective website does not only lie in how many people visit your site, but whether or not it provides you with the opportunity to turn those prospects into real clients. The Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Calgary recently faced a similar challenge. They needed to ﬁnd a way to use this technology to provide people with the opportunity to volunteer and help give back to the community. It wasn’t enough to simply have their organizational information available if it didn’t help produce measurable results. Because in this case, the outcome doesn’t just affect the organization’s bottom line – it affects the lives of our children. Since 1998, Clarity.ca Inc. (Clarity) has had the honor of working as a corporate community partner with the Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BBBS) of Calgary and Area to ensure the most time and cost efﬁcient online services are available to both their volunteers and program participants. This new project presented the chance for Clarity to rise to the challenge once again and help BBBS expand and enhance the way they serve the community even more
“Most recently, Clarity has begun working on providing BBBS Calgary with an online application process. This new functionality will allow BBBS Calgary to improve customer service and provide quicker response to new mentor applicants. Clarity is our internet mentor. Like our Big Brother and Big Sister volunteers, they know that strong health relationships ultimately beneﬁt both parties, and build capacity, success and resiliency. We cannot repay them for the value of the work that they do.” Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Calgary and Area
What’s Wrong with this Picture?
At the end of the day, state of the art technology and creative genius is of no use to anyone if you don’t know how to use it to produce practical results. The BBBS project took full advantage of Clarity’s team of experienced industry workﬂow experts to do just that and together they clearly deﬁned exactly what their new and unique online business processing needs were. As with all of Clarity’s long-term client relationships, the project analysis process with BBBS has become a very intuitive and productive one. This critical front-end analysis phase of the project resulted in the identiﬁcation of the root cause of the difﬁculties the organization was facing, which rested in their ability to process and screen potential mentors on a timely basis. Like any workﬂow processing problem, BBBS’s inability to screen and process potential mentors on a timely basis had created challenges at the most fundamental level of their internal day-to-day operations. Clarity’s team of experts did what they do best and got to work to explore the practical realities of the mentor volunteer workﬂow process. Right from the start of this analysis process, Clarity discovered that prospective mentor volunteers did not have the basic information they required readily available to them in order to seriously consider and make an educated decision about whether or not participating in this program was right for themselves. This reality then required prospects to take the initiative and call the organization just to make a request for the information they needed to move to the next decision-making step. Once contacted, the staff then had to create an information package which incurred notable administrative costs including photocopying, information package collation, postage expenses and the staff’s time to execute all of the tasks associated with the initial mentor volunteer screening process. Responsibility then fell to the staff to track and follow-up information request calls to potential mentors that did not respond, and they were often told that the information sent to them had never arrived in the mail or the prospect had lost the single hard copy package sent. In other words, this antiquated process of information distribution was simply not working well in the very busy lives of individuals in today’s fast-paced world. This fact was resulting in the loss of potential mentor volunteers and was a highly inefﬁcient use of the BBBS staff’s time that had to make multiple telephone calls just to reach the interview stage of the application process.
The ﬁnal analysis of the workﬂow process revealed the key issues that needed to be resolved to enable BBBS to serve their community at the highest level as being:
1. Eliminating the lengthily lag time in processing mentor applications which sent the wrong message to potential mentors and often resulted in the loss of prospective volunteers, 2. The need to take advantage of their existing technology to provide prompt and easily accessible information dissemination services to provide the best customer service possible to prospective volunteers, and 3. Creating a workﬂow system that utilized the BBBS’s staff time and administrative budget in a much more cost and time efﬁcient manner.
When considering internal operational changes, we are the ﬁrst ones to advise our clients that there is a great deal more to ﬁnding an effective solution than simply purchasing some new technical ‘tool’ or program. The typical project analysis process for this type of project considers a variety of relevant issues and factors with just a few of them including:
Analysis of existing business processes
In order to know what you need to change or add, you need to know what you have. This process includes review of the primary methodologies being used to collect, analyze, share and process information and carefully mapping out how each associated business process is implemented to achieve a successful result. This part of the analysis process gives you a clear picture of the material, administrative and processing costs you are incurring with your current non-automated business processing system. The relevant business processes include any process that involves the movement and processing of paper, multiple authorizations and versioning control over multiple geographic regions.
Deﬁning the needs of your target market
By accurately deﬁning the needs of your target market/users, you can make changes to your existing business processing system that are designed to better meet the practical needs of your prospective/existing clients and your organization. A few of these requirements might include: ● Understanding how much time users spend on a web site when looking for your services, What kind of information they are typically seeking, and What information they are most comfortable sharing and how to make it as easy and time efﬁcient as possible for prospects to do so.
Addressing these user needs will greatly enhance the measurable online sales and marketing results that your new automated business processes can achieve.
Integrating new business development tools and applications must be selected and customized to work seamlessly with your existing hardware system and software applications. Clarity’s impressive team of technical experts works closely with your IT division to ensure your newly designed business processing applications are successfully implemented in a way that not only meets but compliments your current system requirements.
The Human Factor
Over the last decade alone, there has been an immeasurable advancement in the development of and the way technology is used within the business world. Consequently, many businesses have had to go through a ‘trial by ﬁre’ learning process to discover what actually works for their organization and their clients, relative to what they were promised by the producers of the ‘latest and greatest’ technological business tool. Unfortunately, this path of discovery can often end up costing an organization a great deal of money and even the loss of personnel in the process. Clarity has always understood that no one knows their business, their people and their customer needs better than their clients do. Clarity’s business objective is to tap into that unique expertise to identify and design custom business processing tools and applications that will meet the requirements of their clients on all relevant organizational, operational and customer service levels. All of Clarity’s business processing tools and applications are designed with one thing in mind – the people using them. Clarity’s resolve couldn’t have been more evident than with the latest BBBS project. When this project began, the backlog of unprocessed mentor applications already encompassed a six-week time period. This problem created frustration to not only potential mentors and the families of children waiting to be matched with their mentors, but with the dedicated and caring staff of BBBS who wanted nothing more than to have the ability to do what they had joined BBBS to do in the ﬁrst place, help make the lives of countless children happier and more rewarding. This same goal holds true for all of Clarity’s clientele no matter what ﬁeld or industry they serve. An organization succeeds in today’s globally competitive marketplace by being able to anticipate and meet the needs of customers efﬁciently and cost effectively. The employees of any organization succeed by ensuring their roles help successfully ﬁll this critical need and in doing so their prospects become customers. In order to turn these prospects into customers, the organization must provide their people with the right tools for the right job.
The Right Tools for the Right Job
While the value of a content management system (CMS) has grown evident over the past few years, what has become equally evident is the need to have content management tools that are speciﬁcally designed to meet the exacting requirements of each organization. There is no such thing as a ‘cookie cutter’ organization and consequently, trying to implement and use a ‘cookie cutter’ content management system simply does not work. To answer the call for specialized, user friendly and time and cost efﬁcient content management tools, Clarity has created the Clarity Content Manager (CCM 5). CCM 5 is an easy to use Web-based application that allows content owners to collaborate on the ongoing content creation, management and publication of all types of content. This highly intuitive system is designed to ensure that the unique automated business processing needs of each organization are identiﬁed, incorporated and implemented seamlessly into your existing business processing system. The power and ﬂexibility of the CCM 5 was unmistakable throughout this latest project with BBBS. Using the CCM 5 and one of Clarity’s many custom form builder tools, an automated system to manage and process BBBS online applications was created and implemented. The user feedback and the results achieved, by both the prospective mentor volunteers and the dedicated staff of BBBS is remarkable. When former potential mentor volunteers discovered the new online application process was in place, many of them opted to go ahead and become mentors because the entire application process had been simpliﬁed and now worked with their schedules. Since launching the online mentor application form, every new mentor volunteer has indicated that they used this online service to apply, where previously, many potential volunteers stated disappointment when they were told that the online application service was not available. Additionally, volunteers have stated that they thoroughly enjoy having the online program reference information available to them at any time and have indicated to BBBS staff that this information has been instrumental in helping them realize that this was the right program for them to participate in. From an administrative standpoint, the staff now only has to call each volunteer once after they eceived the completed online application with the administrative cost of creating and sending information packages becoming almost completely a thing of the past. Since BBBS can now immediately respond to applications being emailed, Intake staff are directing their time and energy only to those persons that are genuinely interested in participating in the program. True excellence in customer service can now be given to the “serious” volunteer that is choosing to make such a positive difference in our community.
Getting the Job Done
Having online application forms enabled the BBBS administrative staff to successfully process and eliminate the backlog of mentor application forms and has resulted in a signiﬁcant reduction of the time it now takes for application forms to be processed. Applicants who visit the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Calgary and Area website ﬁnd a simple and convenient way of ﬁlling out an application form —which can also be easily ﬁlled out at any other time via a login area, with a secure username and password. Finally, all mentor application forms are validated, submitted and saved in a database for review by the BBBS administration and then notiﬁed via automated email. Saving time and resources by simplifying complex tasks such as sending out reference forms to email addresses that were provided by the applicant, can be carried out once the application has been reviewed and approved. Without this new automated business process tool, this procedure required time being spent contacting references and entering data from paper forms instead of enabling the prompt and appropriate pairing of BBBS volunteers to the children waiting for a mentor. Statistically, using the online mentor application service has shown that the completed application numbers have increased by approximately 30% while the work load required by the BBBS staff to complete the application process has been reduced by about 30%. In this case the results are not only measurable – they’re obvious – just by looking in the faces of the children when they meet their new friend and mentor. 9
Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Canada embraces the vision that “every child in Canada who needs a mentor has a mentor. We recognize that we can not do this alone and know that only in joining with our community partners will we be able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of more children and youth. Please accept our gratitude for the commitment you display in your community to help us realize our shared vision and to make a difference in the lives of Canadian Children. Bruce MacDonald President & CEO
The real test of the success or failure of any new business tool must be based upon measurable results. Clarity knows that the most critical phase of any project is the initial analysis process to accurately determine what our client needs really are and equally importantly – what they are not. If it isn’t broken – we don’t ﬁx it. Whether it’s providing expert consulting, application development, application integration, creative design, employee training and/or intranet development services – our impressive team of experienced multi-disciplined professionals enables us to ensure that our clients are presented with only the most effective and cost efﬁcient solutions available to support and achieve their unique organizational and customer service goals. To explore what innovative solutions Clarity can provide your organization with or to request more information, please call: (403) 705-5900 or select Clarity.ca.
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