In March of 2019, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services’ leadership gathered to discuss the organization’s priorities for the next fiscal year. A large focus of the meeting was to develop innovative ways the organization could better manage its significant growth across programs, especially in behavioral health and foster care services. It was viewed as a critical time to build efficiencies, develop staff and create program models that could help more people in the region.
“Moving into 2019, our leadership and board recognized our quick expansions in some key areas. It was time for us to thoughtfully organize a comprehensive plan that would allow us to help more people without compromising our quality of care or mission and values,” says Chris Cox, Hoyleton President & CEO.
A key opportunity to support the organization’s expansion was the use of technology. Hoyleton was utilizing over 30 online platforms in various ways, but very few of the systems communicated with each other, and many were dated. These system inefficiencies created several challenges that disrupted staff’s everyday work. Important data entry activities required several hours to complete — time better suited with children and families in need.
Jennifer Cox, Director of Information Systems & Performance Improvement at Hoyleton explains, “Technology can be such an asset to our impact as an organization if used correctly. We knew that if we could find the right ways to incorporate it in our delivery of care, clients and our staff would greatly benefit.”
To help Hoyleton imagine ways technology could support growth and further its impact, global consulting firm Slalom Consulting was invited to join the project. With their expertise and commitment to addressing every area of the organization, their team developed a plan to build a comprehensive online platform that could track important information in real-time.
The platform priorities focused on improving client data collection as well as communication and collaboration among staff members. “With so many old, disconnected systems, it was hard for the Hoyleton team to work collaboratively while in their own spaces. Records often had to be manually copied and inputted into another system. This took a long time and caused user complications. It was our goal to design a system that allowed users to easily record data in one place and make that data accessible for other team members, so they could ask questions or make more informed decisions about their care when working with the same clients,” says Arathi Srikanta, Lead Consultant from Slalom.
The Slalom team worked for 11 months to build the platform. Along the way, they tested user experiences with team members and developed training protocols for a successful launch.
“Embarking on a project of this scale with so much promise for the organization’s future made me anxious in the beginning. However, the Slalom team worked tirelessly to understand our staff and organization’s pain points. They also embedded themselves into our organization’s mission through volunteering and participating in fundraising events. My worries vanished because I knew we had a trusted partner,” Jennifer Cox says.
Since July 2020, most team members have gone through platform training sessions. Each department has appointed a System Champion that is responsible for communicating user feedback and answering questions. The role is important to help streamline team communications and make implementation steps more personalized to each department’s needs.
The platform officially launched on September 1st and will be rolled out in all departments over the next 30 days. An employee-inspired campaign entitled “Care That Connects” will launch on September 8th to highlight team member’s achievements with the new platform and share ongoing tips to improve the organization’s collective impact in southern Illinois.
Chris Cox says, “We’re privileged to launch a technology platform like this in our region, but people will always be the key to our success. This tool will enable us to reach new milestones in the years to come.”