Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services makes a dramatic impact to over 10,000 individuals every year – including newcomers, youth, women, and seniors – by providing them with a range of programs to help them transition to their new homes in Canada. These services include newcomer orientation, education, language training, and employment and family support services. The individuals and communities served by Polycultural will have an equal opportunity to be productive members of Canadian society by being given the skills and support they need in order to succeed.
When Marwan Ismail first began his role as Executive Director at Polycultural 7 years ago, he knew that the organization had the potential to provide significant support to Canadian communities, but the organization first needed to make some significant and strategic internal changes in order to achieve their mission. Polycultural began to put substantial effort into improving their internal processes, and updating their technology was a big part of this initiative. They knew that they would not be able to do their work effectively without the proper tools in place.
Before implementing their Sparkrock Finance and Workforce Management solution, Polycultural was feeling the pain of a lack of integration, which led to an abundance of human errors and slow, manual processes that did not leave enough hours in the day to get everything done. This lack of integration between their old systems didn’t allow them to see the full picture of what their organization was doing or how successful their programs were. Because their Finance and HR departments weren’t integrated, they had to spend extra time entering information into separate spreadsheets for each department. Their staff timesheets across 5 locations were all done manually, meaning that physical timesheets from over 100 employees had to be filled in, signed, and then mailed. The way things were just wasn’t sustainable for what Polycultural wanted to achieve.
Now that Polycultural has implemented Sparkrock’s Finance and Workforce Management solutions, they no longer need to worry about the time-consuming inefficiencies they once had. Their chart of accounts has been reduced from 42 pages to just 2, and the time it takes to do payroll has been reduced to a third of the time it used to take. Employee relations between departments have also improved because now there is integration, removing the potential for miscommunication or human error due to double entry of information in two separate systems. Another change Polycultural underwent was the elimination of what they called “March Madness.” Before, they would have to monitor their slippage and budgets very carefully in order to maintain their government funding for the next year. At the end of each of their fiscal years in March they would realize they had not spent their budget to its full capacity and have to do a mad dash to spend the remaining funds effectively or risk having a reduction in funding the following year. Now that’s no longer a problem because their solution gives them real-time insight into budget spent, committed and remaining, making it easy to ensure they’re managing all programs effectively.
Ultimately, the more time and resources staff can save, the more money they can put into their programs and the more people they can serve. By eliminating redundant and manual processes, Polycultural is now able to dedicate more time and resources to their mission and to their staff. Currently they are one of the top three Settlement Organizations in the Greater Toronto Area, which was made possible in part by having the right tools to manage the back-end of their operations.
Another way they are leveraging technology is by measuring their metrics and KPIs more than ever before. By using their solution’s deep reporting capabilities, they’re able to more closely monitor what’s going on in their organization, understand how they’re impacting clients and employees, and make smarter, data-driven decisions. Before implementing their new solution they were “guesstimating” details, but now they can accurately report and measure their activities and feel confident in what’s happening in the organization. The biggest improvement ED Marwan Ismail finds though, is the increased transparency the solution gives them. “Our integrated Sparkrock solution helps us to be increasingly transparent. Because the solution provides us with real-time data and insights, we all have a clear perspective on how we’re doing, and where we can make improvements. Because we’re working with taxpayer’s money and the goodwill of people, we must ensure we’re transparent and accountable as stewards of public funding.”