To bring IT training to talented but underserved populations, Creating IT Futures turned to Smartsheet and realized huge savings.
Creating IT Futures — a Chicago-based nonprofit and the workforce charity of respected IT trade association CompTIA — prepares people from underrepresented communities for IT careers. Despite the successes of their training programs, inefficient, error-prone processes with their online training and certification exam voucher programs created a significant administrative burden for staff, students, and education partners.
Without a solution, manual tasks and data issues would continue to divert staff time and attention away from what was most important—supporting CITF’s students and alumni.
"The whole data integrity issue was huge"
Anna Conger, a consultant with the nonprofit, recalls the stress of registering students for the online training program. Without a consistent process, or a platform to manage that process, the team struggled with meeting the demands for their service.
"One of the biggest challenges with the registration process was that all applicants would complete a PDF and submit it," she says, "so all of the data had to be entered manually into the spreadsheet…The whole data integrity issue was huge."
The organization’s exam voucher distribution program — which gives students free access to valuable IT certifications — faced similar issues, with spreadsheets that didn’t talk to each other and endless emailing back and forth to collect data.
When the staffer handling administration of the two programs transitioned into a new role, CEO Charles Eaton saw it as an opportunity to rethink both programs’ administrative processes. He recommended Smartsheet to Conger “because it was simple, yet flexible enough for our purposes.”
Streamlined Processes, Real-time Transparency
Prior to selecting Smartsheet Eaton had explored other web services, "but none of them have the simple and intuitive interface of Smartsheet, which makes it easy for the uninitiated to be able to track and update information."
Smartsheet web forms streamlined the challenging intake processes for both staff and alumni and helped to mitigate data entry errors. Finally, both internal and external parties had real-time transparency and the organization has one central location from which to collaborate, track, and manage data.
Communication improved as well. By driving reporting directly from Smartsheet, Conger found she could give leadership real-time visibility into onboarding progress — and facilitate the nonprofit’s partners insight into students’ training progress and exam status. The team also found it could more easily keep students and partners in the loop via Smartsheet alerts, which streamlined sending reminders and updates on training and voucher deadlines.
Ultimately, that initial stress Conger felt disappeared. As Eaton describes it, “Managing the voucher and training system was almost one person’s full-time job. After switching everything into Smartsheet, it became only 25% of her job."
Using Smartsheet also smoothed the transition process when it came time to train the new coordinator, Karin Nordmeyer, who ultimately took over the two programs. With improved processes in Smartsheet, Nordmeyer was able to ramp up quickly while also assuming an expanded role within Creating IT Futures. Says Eaton, “What motivates our staff is the life-changing impact we are having on our students. With only 25% of her time spent managing the voucher and online training process, Karin has had more time to work with students in our Minneapolis classroom and contribute directly to their successful career advancement in tech.”
“Smartsheet saved us about $25,000 a year”
Streamlined processes and greater program transparency have fundamentally changed the way Creating IT Futures operates.
"The biggest benefit of Smartsheet," Eaton says, "is that information is instantly updated and can be shared with as many people as we need. … With the increase in productivity and efficiency, Smartsheet saved us about $25,000 a year.”
In the end, that translates into more programs and services for thousands of aspiring technologists.
Which is a wonderful thing. Our fast-changing world is going to need them.
Source: Smartsheet Blog
Smartsheet Customer Blogs