Sugar sweetens the Digital Transformation of leading Australian children’s charity

Sugar sweetens the Digital Transformation of leading Australian children’s charity

Barnardos Australia backs Sugar CRM to improve organizational impact reporting, compliance and productivity to benefit vulnerable children and families in need.

Barnardos Australia (Barnardos) has selected the AI-driven SugarCRM platform to help support vulnerable children and families.

Barnardos is one of the largest children’s charities in Australia, caring for children at risk of abuse and neglect.

Since 1921, Barnardos has been providing support through evidence-informed and research-based programs and services to break the cycle of disadvantage and create safe and stable homes. 

This last year alone, Barnardos helped more than 14,000 vulnerable children, young people and their families to recover and thrive.

Having experienced expansion over the last six years, Barnardos now has over 800 employees and operates from 38 locations across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

To consolidate and modernize its tech stack, improve data management, operational visibility, compliance, collaboration and efficiency, Barnardos chose SugarCRM.

The centralized data and information enabled through Sugar will provide Barnardos with enhanced reporting for government and non-government funders and to satisfy internal reporting requirements.

A next-generation content management system (CMS) strategy delivered in partnership with Sugar and Liferay will assist Barnardos with a digital-first approach to support current and future operational and practice requirements and its growing portfolio of programs empowering children, young people and families in its care. 

“Together, Sugar and Liferay will enable Barnardos to implement a common data practice that supports both the Safety and Prevention and Out of Home Care programs, reduces the number of applications in use, streamlines data capture points and provides required data and information to our government and non-government stakeholders.

“This will provide Barnardos with a single, unified, and powerful platform that improves decision-making and responsiveness to help us aid vulnerable children and families, while modernizing the user experience for our carers and employees via a digital-first approach,” said Deirdre Cheers, Chief Executive Officer, Barnardos Australia.

“By providing a true 360-degree view of its business operations and enabling a digital-first approach, the Sugar platform will make the hard things easier to engage and nurture relationships, keeping the child at the heart of everything Barnardos does.

“Letting the platform do the work, Barnardos can stay focused on its vision of supporting children and families in need,” said Jason du Preez, SugarCRM’s Senior Vice President for Asia Pacific.

We asked both Barnardos Australia and SugarCRM about how the collaboration works.

Deirdre Cheers, CEO, Barnardos Australia

  • What are the advantages for Barnardos in implementing a common data practice – compared to “disadvantages” inherent in legacy practice?

Common data practice is essential to enable us to link our practice delivery to the client outcomes allowing us to improve our practice.

It also allows us to demonstrate how our practice delivery improves outcomes for our clients to attract additional donor and philanthropic funding.

Having a single source of truth of data with one place for practitioners to work from will produce high data quality and improve security over client and carer information – critical for the work at Barnardos.

Finally, implementing a common data practice will advance Barnardos’ digital maturity and future-proof how we engage as a charity, working to support vulnerable children and families. It is all about shifting the conversation away from fixing problems to implementing strategic and lasting change for the better.

  • From a technical perspective, what drew Barnardos to SugarCRM as a common data practice solution?

Each potential provider was asked to demonstrate in a proof-of-concept exercise using real-life use cases from our practice.

SugarCRM not only met all our requirements and key selection criteria (functional, technical, and security), the demonstrated product solution proved that SugarCRM was the best fit for Barnardos. This was further validated through our research provider InfoTech Research and Advisory where SugarCRM is the top listed provider of CRM solutions as scored independently across multiple organizations.

  • How does the implementation of a common data practice advance the digital-first ambitions of Barnardos?

To Barnardos, digital-first is an approach to simplifying practice, making technology work for the organization, not against it, by removing duplication, reducing administration, connecting people, and allowing Barnardos to clearly focus on what is most important to the organization – the children.

Questions to SugarCRM:

Jason du Preez, Senior Vice President and General Manager, APAC, SugarCRM

From a technical perspective, what were challenges in meeting what Barnardos wanted from a common data practice solution?

There are two key challenges. First, the number and complexity of the different existing systems in play. Barnardos has many other agencies it needs to interface with and government compliance requirements which change too. When these other systems don’t all have APIs or ready-built connectors it takes work to connect to them. This is justified by reducing double handling/manual entry of data and allows case officers to focus on more valuable work.

The second challenge is building a common data model. When many systems reference a client but have different means of identifying them, it takes work to match/rationalise who the individual is. The investment of time is worth it because it reduces the likelihood of errors – to the benefit of the children that Barnardos seeks to serve.

How did SugarCRM “sell” the benefits of its solution to Barnardos?

SugarCRM focused on three main areas of success for Barnardos:

1.      Usability. The interface looked easy to use, incredibly important when considering the diversity of users and their varying levels of digital fluency.

2.      Flexibility. The Sugar platform is highly malleable and this was demonstrated live to key technical stakeholders to the project. The Barnardos team could see themselves realistically running this themselves and not having to pay for every little change.

3.      Partnership. The way the Sugar team engaged and collaborated was in the true spirit of partnership. The Barnardos team that Sugar is highly committed to helping them deliver their outcomes and willing to be incredibly flexible to make this happen.

What lessons did SugarCRM learn from the Barnardos project that could apply to future work in the third sector?

The project team has already acknowledged the value of strong governance and finding the right balance between that and project team autonomy. It is vital for the third sector to prove their investments are worthwhile, and delivering incremental value is one way of demonstrating good stewardship skills.

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