CRM Revamp Saves Labor, Boosts Productivity

Established in 1999, The Montessori School of Bay Area is a registered non-profit daycare and preschool for 60 children that range in age from 3 months to 5 years, primarily among low-income families. After more than a decade in business, the school's central database was in dire need of an update to better organize the parent community, create stronger relationships with parents and various donors, and do a better job of tracking student activities, immunizations, and other important data.

My team at Acumen Solutions took on this job on a pro-bono basis, volunteering 97 hours of service time to overhaul the school's outdated and inefficient CRM system.

Since the school opened in 1999, it had been using ProCare--a specialized database solution for the child care industry--to manage student records and contacts. Unfortunately, the ProCare implementation lacked the ability to effectively track and link student, teacher, parent, donor, and volunteer contacts, activities, and milestones, so the school also used an ad-hoc system of Excel spreadsheets and paper-based forms to track that critical data.

Maintaining critical student, family, teacher, and donor information in physical file folders and numerous Excel spreadsheets often led to disorganization and conflicting information. Donation records were scattered within multiple spreadsheets, making it difficult for the school to keep in touch with one of its most vital revenue sources.

The school's wish list for a new database system included:

  • The ability to manage current student, and alumni, information and prospective student waiting lists.
  • A way to maintain relationships with other area schools and local agencies to share ideas with fellow staff members and help with the recruitment process for students entering elementary schools.
  • Features for managing marketing and accounting for donations from fundraising.
  • A way to track and utilize its network of parents, donors, volunteers, teachers, students, other schools and social services agencies for resources.

The Solution

Our deployment of Salesforce.com Non-Profit Edition lets this Montessori school access its data through 19 customized reports.
As part of this pro-bono initiative under Acumen Solutions' Social Responsibility program, my team used our Salesforce.com expertise to create a system that consolidated all of this data, including records for current and prospective students, teachers, staff members, families, parent donations, corporate donations and fundraising events. No longer would the school need to rely on error-prone paper systems and disconnected spreadsheets to track all of this important information.

All of this data was then linked together to provide 19 customizable reports to help the school track significant factors such as student and teacher diversity, donations, alumni, class rosters, parent profiles, regulatory compliance, student activities, emergency contacts, and vendor information.

The Payoff

This process has already strengthened communication, visibility and efficiency across the school. Staff members are now able track anything from tuition payments for specific students to student immunization status information as mandated by the State of California. The school can also initiate marketing campaigns for donations and fundraisers within the system and track these for return on investments.

The system replaced a previous customer contact system and a lot of the paper forms and Excel spreadsheets. This greatly streamlined their processes and saved a great deal of administrative time that their employees could recoup to focus on the education and well being of their students. Where it had previously taken 20 percent of a full-time employee's time to access and manage information across all those spreadsheets and paper files, that wasted effort has been eliminated with instant access to all of the important information for the entire school.

Meet the Pro

Jon Wilson is a senior consultant in the Financial Industry vertical practice at Acumen Solutions, based in San Francisco. His areas of expertise include Sales Operations, Customer Support, Marketing, Business Process Automation, and Systems Integration. Mr. Wilson is an expert at evaluating business operations and developing IT solutions to match the needs of the client. He has extensive experience with business process re-engineering programs, data migrations, application development, and training design and delivery.

Acumen Solutions is a business and technology consulting firm with offices across the U.S. and in Europe. Jon can be reached at jwilson@acumensolutions.com.

If you're an IT solutions provider serving the small to midsize business market, and you'd like to learn how you can contribute to PC World Tech Audit, send mail to techaudit@pcworld.com. We're always looking for more talented pros.

Tech Audit is written and produced in cooperation with IT professionals in the field. All recommendations and opinions expressed represent the independent judgment of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of PC World or its editorial staff.

Follow Tech Audit on Twitter.

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon