New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults, and Families began in 1885 and has been evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of their 3000 plus clients, across 16 programs in the Winnipeg community. They have redefined themselves and their services to work better with children, youth, adults and families as they chart their own course within the community. Their mission is to provide responsive and individualized services that foster the hopes and dreams of people and their communities.
The team at New Directions knew they were ready for a digital transformation because of the time-consuming inefficiencies they had from disparate systems in their operations. It started back in 2009 when the organization was using ACCPAC to manage their finance and accounting processes and hadn’t updated the solution in years. Jennifer Hume, the Director of Financial and Operational Support, saw an opportunity to look at alternatives instead of upgrading ACCPAC. Jennifer commented that, “If we were to go through with an upgrade of ACCPAC, it would have been the same amount of work as implementing a new solution – that’s how outdated it was.”
The staff’s challenges stemmed from administrative processes that were done manually which took a significant amount of time to complete. One of the most time consuming and ongoing tasks that New Directions had to deal with was the payment of their 200 foster parents, which happens twice a month. They would have to manually enter every dollar amount for every parent and this could sometimes take over an hour of straight keying to complete. Because of these reasons, the team at New Directions decided the best course of action would be to implement a new solution that could actually scale to meet their growing needs, rather than stay with one that just allowed them to get by.
Over the last 10 years, New Directions has scaled successfully from a $21 million organization into a $51 million organization, which was made possible because of their switch from disparate systems to a single ERP platform with Sparkrock. Over the years, New Directions has continued to scale and adapt their Sparkrock ERP platform (powered by Microsoft Dynamics) starting with ACCPAC replacement and now replacing their outsourced payroll provider with Sparkrock workforce modules integrating to the full ERP platform. Recently, New Directions has enhanced their GL by adding new dimensions and the Employee Self-Service modules for Expense Claims and Payment Requests, replacing manual processes with automation.
With their human services expertise, the Sparkrock team assisted New Directions every step of the way throughout their digital transformation.. In order to ensure her team fully understood the solution and to help with change management, Hume gave every program representative at New Directions the opportunity to talk to the Sparkrock consultants, Kinley and Victor, while they were on site. “Every program representative that met with Kinley and Victor is influential in their program, and are a key player in ensuring the implementation is successful. By including them in this process it helps with user adoption and overall change management in the organization,” says Hume.
Since their initial implementation of NAV in 2009 and now their most recent upgrade to 2016, New Directions has been able to grow tremendously by increasing their efficiencies and reducing the time it takes to complete administrative processes. The biggest time saver for the organization has been how they’re now able to pay their foster parents. Instead of manually keying in every amount, they’re able to import a list of contacts with all of the amounts to pay directly into the General Ledger – what used to take an hour now takes seconds.
With HR/Payroll in the process of being implemented, New Directions is expecting even more benefits from their solution. One area that will be drastically improved once HRP is in place is their scheduling process. Hume says, “Scheduling is chaos right now! Every one of our programs has their own process for scheduling, ranging from a basic publisher document to extremely elaborate Excel documents. All of it is done manually – the only thing that is even close to automation is the elaborate Excel document!” One of the most complicated areas of scheduling for New Directions is that 32 of their homes are scheduled 24/7, but this is all managed manually. Overtime costs become a problem because finding available staff with the right qualifications must be done over the phone. With the new HRP solution and Scheduling functionality, all of these processes will become automated, allowing staff to go online to see what shifts are available, while built-in alerts will notify managers when certain staff are approaching overtime hours.
Another way that Sparkrock was able to help New Directions succeed with their solution is the prior knowledge our consultants have in the Nonprofit sector that they were able to bring to the implementation. Hume noted that during their on site visit, “the Sparkrock team’s experience from working directly with Nonprofits was truly invaluable. They had amazing perspective and advice for the project.” Often Hume would ask the consultants for their opinion on the best practices for setting up certain processes. Because the consultants had helped other similar organizations in the past, they understood the full scope of the solution’s capabilities and were able to recommend options that would benefit New Directions long term. For example, New Directions used to have three-digit branch numbers, some of which started with a 0, which made doing calculations in Excel a nightmare. Our Sparkrock consultants recommended they change their branch codes to be four digits, making calculations much simpler.
Ultimately, New Directions began working with Sparkrock and continues to expand their solution with HRP, upgrades, and dimensions, because they can clearly see and are benefiting from the continuous improvements and efficiencies the technology is allowing their organization.