Guest Post by Dawn Carlyle, Business Analyst at District of Nippissing Social Servies Admin Board
In my line of work there are always going to be risks. It’s what happens when you put yourself out there to help a fellow human being during a difficult time in their life. Risk is an expected part of the Human Services sector that comes at unexpected times—that’s why it is important to have every possible tool in place to help mitigate said risks. I’ve come to notice that many Human Services organizations find themselves so caught up in the services they are providing that they fall behind on the inflow of information. That’s what kept happening to us at the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board. Because we were so wrapped up in our services we didn’t realize how critical information was and how essential it is in preparing you for things you can’t control. In this blog post I am going to take you through how DNSSAB changed for the better by upgrading our ERP system, allowing us to actually be aware of the information coming into our organization and become more transparent and efficient in the process.
The art of getting by seems to be the name of the game with technology in Human Services—just make what you have work! So, what was it that really made us want to go through this huge overhaul and upgrade? Well, one of the deciding factors for DNSSAB were the purchase orders. Before we had our new system in place, we would have frontline staff spending time looking for and buying supplies when someone else could have done it for them faster and at a better price. We really needed a solution that would stop wasting of staff’s time on work they didn’t need to be doing. Other problems we had to deal with before upgrading were issues in processing time, and a lack of understanding and communication between departments—which further contributed to extra work and incorrect information in the organization. As I’m sure you can imagine, this created a lot of tension and stress for our employees. A change needed to be made.
And once we made that change, was it ever different! It was as if we moved from black and white to brilliant colour. The transparency of the Sparkrock solution has impacted our organization’s understanding of information and finances on an incredible level. By being able to speak to Dynamics NAV, staff can now see and understand what is happening in real time—creating a better relationship between departments and streamlining a variety of finance processes. This streamlining has allowed us to re-allocate resources, support ongoing process improvements, as well as work to enhace efficiencies and effectiveness. Our staff are so much happier with this new solution—not to mention we’re also saving a ton of paper in the process!
Of course, it’s easy to talk about the great benefits of an upgrade but if I skip over how we got there then this blog really doesn’t have much of a use. The first thing we did in order to ensure we had all of our staff on board with the change was that we worked to keep communication channels as open as possible. We wanted frontline staff to feel comfortable with what was happening at every level of the process and encouraged feedback. This feedback really helped us with training and accommodating any needs or concerns staff had.
We also tried to make the process as fun as possible and celebrated all of the positives and individual successes of people involved in the process. One last important tip I would give, is to ensure that your finance department is available to drop everything at a moment’s notice to assist with any issues staff may have. At DNSSAB we made sure that our schedule was clear before starting the project so that we could really be there to support our staff through the change. Through this hand holding we were able to easily fix issues and gain the trust and assistance of everyone at the organization.
I hope our story provides some comfort and credibility to the idea of such a large change. In Human Services it’s so important to stay on top of information, especially in regards to funding. You can easily run the risk of overspending or underspending when the information you have is not correct. By upgrading, we may have created some short-term discomfort (as change is never easy), but I believe that it has given us long-term peace of mind. Now, our focus and time can be spent on what truly matters, our clients.
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