NSW Nurses Association - a case study
The New South Wales Nurses' Association (NSWNA) is the registered union for all nurses working in New South Wales, with around 51,000 members. The Association seeks to protect the interests of the nursing profession, representing nurses employed under all awards and agreements registered in NSW in both the public and private sectors. It also provides for the professional, educational and industrial welfare of nurses in government and non-government forums at state, national and international level.
As a not-for-profit union body, the NSW Nurses' Association exists entirely for its members. Its ability to stay in touch with them is critical. With 400-500 new members joining each month and attrition of about 500 each quarter through retirement and changes of job or address, the Association's Network Administrator, Shane Wootton said it can be challenging to maintain accurate records.
"Our lifeblood is our communications with members, so the accuracy of our records is very important to us. A union is all about gathering people together and keeping them up-to-date about news as it breaks and helping them to make informed decisions. Also, with 12,000 members paying by account, our cashflow can be affected if we don't have accurate records" he said.
On top of the need to maintain clean address data, NSWNA was also keen to qualify for postal discounts by introducing an in-house barcoding capability.
We regularly send out thousands of letters and accounts to members and branch officials. By barcoding our mail, we knew we could save between seven and 40 cents per item, which certainly adds up over time.
NSWNA trialled two competitive offerings back in April 2006, choosing Experian QAS for its superior functionality and its ability to integrate tightly with its Unison membership management system from Infocomp.
"Once we started trialling the two programs, it was obvious they were chalk and cheese. Experian QAS was the clear winner not only for the quality of the solution, but because of the enthusiasm and professionalism of the people and their commitment to a successful implementation," said Mr Wootton.
The final solution comprised Experian QAS, QAS Pro, which verifies addresses against Australia Post's Postal Address File, QAS Pro API to enable full integration with Unison, and QAS Batch, for cleaning and verifying entire databases.
Mr Wootton said tight integration with the membership system was an important consideration.
"We needed it to work seamlessly and from the user's point of view it looks like just one application since Experian QAS operates as a separate window within Unison. Experian QAS worked closely with Infocomp to ensure the necessary changes were made for Unison to accommodate QAS and ensure the two solutions worked well within the NSWNA environment."
Since implementing QAS in April 2006, NSWNA estimates it has saved well over $15,000 on postage costs alone, thanks to its ability to barcode its mail and qualify for bulk mail discounts.
"That's a lot of money for a not-for-profit organisation. We've mailed out over a quarter of a million pieces of mail in the past 12 months, and have been able to do that more efficiently and cost-effectively, thanks to the Experian QAS solution. We've even brought some previously outsourced mail-outs back in-house since we're now better equipped to handle them"Mr Wootton said.
Experian QAS has enabled NSWNA to improve the accuracy of its address data and reduce the time involved in capturing addresses over the phone. The system is highly intuitive and will either verify the address straightaway if it's correct, or suggest closest match options to enable the user to narrow it down very quickly.
"These capabilities mean you can enter an entire address with six key strokes or less, and with around 500 new addresses being input every month, Experian QAS is definitely saving us time and money," he said.
The system is used most heavily by around 20 staff working in the Association's Member Services division, supported by IT staff who run QAS Batch for major processing tasks.
"The ability to verify addresses is the greatest benefit to us because it's extremely common for members to mis-spell their address or even put the wrong suburb, since postcode boundaries change over time. It's now impossible for our people to save an address without it being automatically verified by QAS." he said.
While returned mail will always be an issue for any organisation with a large database, Mr Wootton is confident the level of accuracy in the system has significantly improved.
"We've been exceedingly happy both with the QAS solution and with the whole relationship with Experian QAS. They're very easy to deal with, are extremely professional, and the product actually does what they say it will do, which in this game is a really rare thing."