OLMC - a case study
Our Lady of Mercy College (OLMC) is a catholic girl's high school in the Mercy tradition, based in Parramatta in Sydney's west. The college has a student-base of approximately 900 as well as an ex-students register of around 6000 that dates back to the college's foundation in 1889.
As part of an upgrade of its MAZE administration database, OLMC sought to tidy up the contact details of students, parents and ex-students. A mass ex-student mail-out prior to Christmas provided the basis for the project after it uncovered an amount of misdirected correspondence that resulted in double-handling and created additional expense for the school. A vagrant postcode or a misprinted 'Avenue' rather than 'Street' meant that extra administration staff had to be assigned to check the addresses manually and reissue correspondence.
"Although OLMC only receive a small amount of incorrect mail it could have a big impact in our communications to parents. We needed to have peace of mind that our database was totally accurate" says Simon Bryan, IT manager at Our Lady of Mercy College.
The marginal errors also had a potentially adverse affect on the school's funding
"We were finding that many parent addresses were listed in the wrong suburb compared to the official demarcations made by Australia Post and the government. This introduced the risk of invoices going astray and could also impact government funding" says Bryan.
The college had three key objectives: to clean up the existing data so it had a standardised format; to increase the accuracy of information to ensure parents received important correspondence and reduce double-handling of Return to Sender (RTS) mail; and to make the ongoing maintenance of the system more efficient. Bryan also had to ensure that it would be priced within reach of the school's conservative IT budget.
OLMC approached its IT provider, CAZ Computers for a recommendation and were directed to Experian QAS. CAZ stressed the integration friendly nature of Experian QAS' software, having installed the application previously with the MAZE core administration database application.
Experian QAS' data-cleansing solution, QAS Batch, had worked well in the past with CAZ customers doing large mail-outs and invoicing and had proved particularly useful in standardising existing databases OLMC began the rollout of Experian QAS' QAS Batch software in December.
By February the system was up and running with the entire pre-existing database transferred and reformatted.
"The export/import features saved us an awful lot of typing. We could export it directly into a text document and from there into the new system " says Bryan.
The Experian QAS team came on-site to assist with setting up the interface and to run through the system to ensure a smooth transition. "Experian QAS was very responsive in getting back to us on any request we had," adds Bryan. "The process overall has been very painless and not a steep learning curve at all. The way the software itself operates is very methodical and self explanatory - I don't think I even ended up reading the manual."
Like any business, OLMC is committed to providing higher level of service to its customers (ie students and their parents) as well as controlling its cost structures and making sure that funds are not being expended unnecessarily on processes that can be automated.
The decision to invest in the Experian QAS solution is based on a calculable return on investment (ROI) ratio - the cost of the application and its implementation versus the cost of continuing to carry out certain administrative procedures manually. In this case, Bryan says the Experian QAS solution clearly won out.
"QAS was real value for money. This package is very attractive for schools where keeping costs down is a key focus. We needed a package that was affordable and also able to keep delivering for a long period, in this case through license upgrades"
While Bryan is impressed by the three month turn around, his greatest praise of Experian QAS' QAS Batch software is that it had no adverse effects on other applications running on the IT system.
"As a school with limited resources, it's vital for us that the software actually does what it says it will - which is not as common as you'd like. The basis of this is that the application has been well tested before being released to market so that it doesn't break anything on the system in the process of fixing other aspects," he said.
Based on the success of QAS Batch software, Our Lady of Mercy College is in the process of rolling out Experian QAS' QAS Pro application to ensure that addresses are captured correctly the first time they are entered into its system. With 2003 enrolments having just rolled in, the timing couldn't be better says Bryan.