Want to spend more time on mission and less on chasing paperwork? Here's a tool, says Project HOME - Generocity Philly

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Jul. 15, 2019 12:30 pm

Want to spend more time on mission and less on chasing paperwork? Here’s a tool, says Project HOME

According to Patrick Farrell, the organization's business/financial analyst, employees have decreased time spent on contracts by an estimated 30% using contract management software.

Project HOME has a high volume of contracts, and the organization needs an efficient way to make sure contracts are signed on time.

(Photo by Lukas on Pexels)

“Roots in disruption; they are the grandfather of open source,” are not words commonly associated with contract management software — but that’s how Patrick Farrell, business/financial analyst of Project HOME, summed up Agiloft.

Project HOME’s implementation of Agiloft helped them centralize hundreds of contracts and maintain a digital paper trail of who’s reviewed and signed a contract, including automated emails when a contract needs to be renewed.

For any nonprofit organization mired in inefficient contract storage and approval, Farrell recommends the software for reducing employee workload. In fact, he thinks of Agiloft as the Slack for contract management.

Administration isn’t the appealing part of Project HOME’s vision, ending homelessness is. However, having a more efficient administrative process helps staff focus on more program-relevant tasks to work towards that ultimate goal, according to Farrell.

“My goal with any of our applications [is] I want to spend so little time doing administrative tasks that it’s a foregone conclusion,” Farrell said, “it’s secure, and you know it’s being done perfectly.”

For Project HOME, the need for a system like this became apparent years ago when Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion needed information from a contract and the contract couldn’t be found in a timely manner. The information, according to Farrell, “was helter-skelter. It was everywhere.” Departments kept their own records in files, he added, or over email and nothing was stored centrally.

Due to the size of the organization and its projects, something had to change.

Project HOME has residential facilities, a growing medical program, a property management team, two accounting departments and ongoing construction projects. Put simply: they had a high volume of contracts. The organization needed a more efficient solution so the approximately 40 employees who dealt with contracts could make sure they were being signed on time.

They’ve been using the software — with a mobile access option — for three years now and it’s been an invaluable part of freeing up time for employees, according to Farrell. Employees have decreased time spent on contracts by an estimated 30% — a significant amount of time that those employees can now spend tackling more pressing issues and thinking of creative solutions to problems.

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“Whether it’s a resident that needs a little extra help with something or a case that needs some more time put into it,” Farrell said, “I think that easily translates into us helping the people already in the program.”

Farrell attributed the success of the software’s integration into Project HOME to the extent to which it can be modified and adapted to the organization using it (the US Airforce also uses Agiloft, for example). He estimates that about 25% of Project HOME’s version of the software has been customized for their needs.

For example, Farrell built a system for managing insurance claims — another area where a paper trail can be helpful. He added the insurance claim features without coding, as the software allows for customization without requiring coding or an ongoing need for an outside consultant to help install new features.

It did, however, take some time to get  used to. “You need to respect the logic and the steps involved,” he said.

For nonprofits exploring simplifying a process or operating more efficiently with a new technological solution, Farrell offered some advice: “If you’re going to take on something technically, you need to have a sense of humor, you need to be agile, and you need to be nimble. You need to be informal and just try it in a test environment.”

After that transition phase is complete, he added, nonprofit employees should find that they have more time to focus on tasks that are more meaningful to the organization’s mission.

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