Data is the key for organizations to succeed. However, while companies are able to collect huge amounts of data, this is often scattered across their enterprises and underutilized.
The most forward-thinking organizations are recognizing the need to tap into their data sources, bring different pieces of information from various repositories together, and extract actionable insights that will help the business processes.
Scouts Canada had a lot of information about its members, but this data was not integrated to allow for a holistic view of customers. According to Stephen Kent, the organization's former chief commissioner and chair of the board, the youth organization "was stuck in the past." Systems weren't integrated, and the technology was antiquated.
Much of the problem stemmed from the acquisition of a number of standalone systems for training, finance, marketing, and ecommerce that the organization had made over several years. Because the different systems weren't integrated, a lot of effort had to be spent to extract data from the various databases and report it to other systems. "For example, every time we wanted to send an email, we had to transfer addresses from one system to another," Kent explains. Not only was this a very time-consuming exercise, but a lack of a single view of customers made targeted messages a real challenge.
This reality was keeping Scouts Canada from delivering the experience customers expect. Another challenge was that the organization's website didn't allow for online registration, meaning that hundreds of volunteers had to spend hours entering data manually. With more than 9,500 sections meeting weekly across Canada, the youth organization had a huge amount of data that needed to be entered manually. Thousands of paper forms for individual members needed to be processed, including registration forms, health and medical information forms, and permission forms, among others. "There were piles of paperwork being handled by the different sections," Kent notes. "This time could be better spent on growing scouting."
Scouts Canada's business leaders recognized the need to modernize business processes in order to improve the customer experience. An important step was to invest in a new CRM system that brought data into one place and laid the groundwork for a major transformation. "We weren't just trying to implement new systems but wanted to change how we did business," Kent stresses.
In 2012 Scouts Canada implemented a single hub solution by Avectra an Abila company that centralizes the organization's different databases and brings it together with its CRM solution. Aside from saving time for volunteers, the hub is also enabling quick and easy access to information, something that's extremely beneficial especially when time is of essence, for example if a member requires medical attention. Further, having data in one repository is allowing Scouts Canada to send targeted communications to different segments, for example parents of new scouts or volunteers with cub groups. The second benefit of the partnership with Avectra was outwardly facing- the set up of a new website that is more user-friendly and provides all the information needed by both parents and volunteers. The one-stop-shop saves time when looking for information and parents and volunteers can get all the details they're looking for in the same place.
Another improvement focused on the set up of online registration through the newly established website. Previously the thousands of people who wanted to sign their children up were only given a list of groups within the community when they searched online. "There was no way to register online and instead parents had to write a check and then go to a school or church in the community in order to register their child," Kent explains. This was an inconvenience for busy parents who can now register their children and make payments through the online secure system.
Kent notes that the overhauled system helped Scouts Canada overcome "a huge barrier to future growth and success." Within the first year of launch, more than 30,000 people became active users of the new website, which is also bilingual, and site visits multiplied drastically with a percentage coming from mobile devices. "The impact is still unfolding," he says.