Success Story, Necessary Change for Growth, 3 young adults with developmental disabilities laughing, Provisio, Easterseals Massachusetts

Easterseals Massachusetts: Necessary Change for Growth

Easterseals Massachusetts is a nonprofit serving all regions of Massachusetts. They provide services to ensure children and adults with disabilities have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play and offer dozens of supportive programs. Some of their programs experiencing tremendous growth include assistive technology, employment, and transition services.  

Facing a Data Crisis

According to Eric Oddleifson, Vice President of Community Support, Easterseals Massachusetts was facing a data crisis. Last year, they reached a tipping point because their data management systems were fragmented, requiring staff and managers to spend way too much time repeatedly entering the same information in multiple places.

One of the key factors to their continued success is their readiness to take advantage of new contract opportunities, but their administrative burden made it difficult to integrate new contracts and business. They needed to change to grow.

The Challenge of Disjointed and Antiquated Systems

Before implementing Salesforce, their team used many disconnected Excel sheets, a custom invoicing database, Microsoft Forms, dozens of Outlook custom email inboxes to sort different types of incoming referrals, and multiple versions of Word documents. 

All of their notes and evaluations were manually emailed to managers who had to sort through and store all this documentation on different shared drives and in thousands of client folders.

None of this data was immediately available for managers. They couldn’t see the status of services for a particular client to identify lapses or problems that could cause a negative outcome, leading to a very reactive management style, according to Oddlesfson.

Managers only became aware of client difficulties after they happened and did not have the tools to prevent those problems.

This led to:

  •  Too many negative client experiences
  •  Administrative overload for managers as they had to search through multiple data    systems to identify the nature of an issue 
  • Upset external case managers
  • Lost revenue as both managers and field staff had to stop billable activity to sort through problems that would have been preventable with data transparency

Staying Competitive in a Competitive Landscape

Easterseals Massachusetts put time and effort into implementing an outcome assessment tool to give them hard data on their ability to meet their mission statement, measuring progress towards client goals. They have gathered this data for 5 years in Word documents, sitting in thousands of client folders across multiple drives. Nobody had the time to collect that data and put it into yet another data system. Their data management systems negated their ability to prove efficacy.

Their systems created massive inefficiencies, which needed to be identified and rectified to remain competitive. The state of Massachusetts has many services available for people with disabilities and several qualified nonprofits fighting for the same contracts.

Easterseals Massachusetts asked themselves how they could gain a competitive edge. While they are one of the most professionally organized and managed nonprofits in the state, they were underdeveloped in their case management tools and related data management systems. There’s a limit to how much staff can do when using antiquated data management systems. Microsoft Excel, their go-to tool, was never meant as a comprehensive system to manage thousands of clients.

As they evaluated their cost of inaction, the remaining status quo would result in these issues:

  • Increase in staff morale problems
  • Increase in resignations
  • A widening gap between the service provision timelines they had agreed to with their contracts and their ability to meet those
  • Increase in frustration from external case managers 
  • Lost opportunities for growth and increased revenue because they couldn’t take any new business

The Cost of Inaction is Higher than the Cost of Action

Oddleifson explains that they needed to look beyond the initial technical implementation costs to understand the negative impact their antiquated and disjointed systems were having on their hard-working staff, their contracts, and, most importantly, their clients.

Investing in a new platform – and in their workforce – would make their deliverables higher quality, reduce staff stress, and free them from administrative work, allowing them to spend more time with clients. More time with clients equals more revenue.

Reducing the administrative load means staff members will be more likely to stay at the organization; losing talent is expensive and needs to be considered when assessing return on investment on potential agency improvements.

What Salesforce Offers Easterseals

Managers and staff are seeing the power of reporting and data transparency. For example, they can finally see if the same client enrolled in Program A is also enrolled in Program B. They had no way of knowing this information before and therefore could not see the full picture of their clients. They can take advantage of more inter-agency referrals with these more complete views.

The reporting capabilities Easterseals now has access to provide them with a competitive advantage because they can highlight their contract outputs and outcomes. Finally, they can use all the data they have been collecting to quantitatively prove the impact they are having on clients’ lives. Plus, every piece of data they collect is available in custom reports that any user can create to meet their specific needs. 

These abilities are “truly a quantum leap forward for us to have this level of data transparency in reporting,” says Oddleifson.“Overall, implementing Salesforce was like taking a time machine from the 19th century to the 21st century, walking around and saying things like, wow, we can do that? Wow, that’s possible?” says Oddleifson.

For the first time, they can see what is happening with their programs in real-time.

“A large portion of the success implementing Salesforce is due to the great team at Provisio. From day one this team of experts helped us understand how to improve our case management/data systems and customized numerous objects so that it will work for us. Easterseals has very complicated service delivery systems, but Provisio listened and created solutions that work. Kelly, Alex, Whitney, and now Zach offer clear solutions in the least amount of time possible to help us continue to expand. They listen. Something rare in today’s business world.” Eric Oddleifson, Vice President of Community Support, Easterseals MA

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