The One-Stop of Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana Counties in Ohio helped put job seekers in contact with the public agencies and potential employers that could help them—but its assessment process was time-consuming and expensive. So, the organization turned to OneFlow from Microsoft® Certified Partner Empyra®. One-Stop now provides better and faster service to job seekers while cutting costs by more than U.S.$200,000 per year. Business Needs
If you’re a job seeker in the tri-county area of Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull counties in Ohio, there’s one place for you to stop: the One-Stop. Its all-in-one centers assess the job seeker’s qualifications, connect him or her to potential employers, provide guidance on how to find a job, and make connections to social service agencies that can provide needed assistance. More than 30 partner agencies—which provide assistance for training, housing, family services, and more—participate, as do hundreds of local employers.
One-Stop has been a great success over the seven years it’s operated in Ohio; in the past few years, the number of new customers served has doubled to 4,000 per month. That success created challenges for One-Stop, its affiliated agencies, and its customers. For example, customers had to fill out skills assessments and related forms at each of the partner agencies from which they sought assistance. Because many partner agencies had similar assessment questions, the forms were somewhat redundant.
As the number of completed forms kept in storage swelled, the ability to access and use them to guide job seekers diminished. Staff people couldn’t stay current on all agency services. Paper-based referral forms could be lost or misfiled Separate spreadsheets and databases maintained at each agency created redundant and divergent islands of information, yet another impediment to accessing information.
Neither did the storage of paper-based forms allow One-Stop to analyze and understand the demographics of its customers and employment trends, which One-Stop needed to do in order to fine-tune its services. One-Stop executives recognized the limitation of some of those services, such as a job-orientation session that always had a waiting list because it could be scheduled only twice a week. And they recognized that different procedures at different One-Stop offices led to the inconsistent provision of services.Solution
To address those challenges, One-Stop turned to the OneFlow solution from Empyra®, a Microsoft® Certified Partner in Youngstown, Ohio. OneFlow is a Web-based solution that automates the organization’s processes and workflow, starting with registration.
||We’re serving our audiences better thanks to OneFlow. We refer them to the appropriate partners with less effort on their part—and ours.
Chief Operating Officer, One-Stop
A “smart” form gathers information from job seekers. The solution then provides job seekers with information (such as video clips) and referrals to the services for which they’re likely to be eligible, according to the information they’ve provided. The solution also enables job seekers to register for workshops and appointments.
The completed forms, referrals, and scheduled events are stored in a central database. A reporting feature enables One-Stop administrators to analyze the population they serve, trends in customer needs, and the agencies to which job seekers are being referred.
As eligibility rules and business processes change, One-Stop reconfigures the modular OneFlow solution to meet new needs.
Employers and partners use OneFlow as a collaborative online environment. For example, the OneFlow scheduling module gives One-Stop and its affiliated agencies a centralized place from which to reserve conference rooms and other facilities. It also allows One-Stop to centralize registration for workshops—even alerting site managers when a workshop is fully subscribed, so that additional sessions can be added.
Empyra provides the solution in a software-as-a-service subscription model. One-Stop and its various audiences—job seekers, partner agencies, affiliated employers, and board of directors—access separate portals by logging on over the Internet. The solution is hosted at Empyra and features Microsoft SQL Server™ 2005 database software.
“We considered Oracle and SQL Server for OneFlow,” says Shanthi Subramanyam, Chief Executive Officer at Empyra. “We chose SQL Server because it would provide the scalability and reliability we needed, while being easier and less costly to administer—which meant we could offer OneFlow at a price that’s cost-effective for small agencies. With SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, we provide all the real-time reports that our customers want, without having to rely on a third-party product.” Benefits
By using OneFlow, One-Stop has eliminated redundant assessment paperwork, which has boosted customer satisfaction and cut the time it takes to connect job seekers with the agencies that can help them, according to Jessica Borza, Chief Operating Officer, One-Stop.
“We’re serving our audiences better thanks to OneFlow,” says Borza. “We refer them to the appropriate partners with less effort on their part—and ours. They go through our workshops and skills assessment, and their information is forwarded to our partners to determine the most appropriate services. They don’t have to go from agency to agency to see if they’re eligible for assistance. We also keep our online processes, such as registration and assessments, updated to reflect changes in eligibility criteria, services, and partners.”
The solution’s reporting capability enables Borza and her colleagues to analyze attendance levels at workshops, so that they can adjust staffing to meet demand.
In the past, One-Stop had no easy and authoritative way to analyze the demographics of its customers, so the organization was forced to make marketing decisions without solid data. With OneFlow and SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services, One-Stop can determine which audience cohorts to target; as a result, advertising dollars are spent more wisely.
Borza estimates that the solution helps One-Stop save more than U.S.$200,000 per year, about 5 percent of the organization’s total budget. The savings come from a variety of areas, such as scheduling, assessment, data entry, reporting, and supplies (because less paper is used and distributed).
In addition, because staff members are freed from tasks such as scheduling and data entry, their time can be reinvested into providing a higher level of individual service and counseling for job seekers.