When one thinks of Goodwill, images of small donation centers and quaint second-hand thrift shops come to mind. But that wouldn’t be entirely correct.
Now approaching its centennial year, Goodwill Industries of Denver has evolved into the ultimate socially responsible retailer of the 21st century. Last year, they transformed millions of pounds of donated goods into life-changing opportunities for people in need, serving 27,000 at-risk students, struggling adults, and individuals with disabilities in the Denver area.
We recently chatted with Goodwill Industries of Denver’s Cindy Floyd, senior director of IT, an IT veteran of 40 years, and an employee of the organization for the last six. She leads a team of seven and is responsible for IT infrastructure, security, and hardware servicing 1,600 employees.
Q: Let’s start with how Goodwill Industries of Denver (GID) benefits the community
A: The organization will be celebrating 100 years in 2018. We are a midsized non-profit organization, and our primary source of income is retail sales of donations. Beyond that, our culture is diverse in the programs that we sponsor. We endeavor to get those in need back into the workplace. We mentor students to prep for a career. We offer classroom assistance via Goodwill facilitators when a school can’t fulfill a particular need such as empowering students with skills training.
What sets GID apart from other similar non-profits?
We’re big on innovation, and we are making ourselves more agile to move more quickly when putting in new systems and hardware, and building on that. Doing so in the end benefits our customers and vendors, and boosts employee productivity.
GID is an SAP Business ByDesign customer now, but what was life like before that?
When I joined GID six years ago, the common practice for purchasing software, or any kind of technology for that matter, was based on siloed requirements suited to address a department’s need.
GID had been using a variety of siloed, outdated solutions from different companies. We were just focused on what one department needed to fill its needs. There was no talk of integration. Just a lot of variety. The company was working from an internally created “excel database” because it was cheap, which is not unique among non-profits. But as the company has grown, we’ve also outgrown these disparate legacy systems. What we needed was a “single pane of glass” rather than separate shards located here and there and not fitting well together.
Prior to Goodwill, I spent several years at a large pharma company where I gained a pretty clear understanding of enterprise resource planning (ERP). I saw how GID could benefit from a cloud based ERP solution. But it took me two years to educate management on what ERP was, what it can do, and how people can benefit. I was ultimately able to influence their purchasing decision with a costs/benefits analysis and SAP Business ByDesign was selected.
Tell us more about the selection process. Why SAP Business ByDesign?
I learned about SAP Business ByDesign while researching cloud-based systems on the internet. I was already aware of SAP’s solid reputation and was researching whether SAP Business One would be a good fit for GID, though I was also thinking Business One might be too big and too expensive for us. But I needed a solution that would integrate different applications properly, such as with Microsoft 365. So, after further research and consulting with SAP partner Element Five Solutions, the features and flexibility of SAP Business ByDesign, and the reputation of SAP and Element Five Solutions are what sold me. Element Five also helped us tremendously during the purchasing process in terms of affordability.
How did Element Five Solutions help you with the implementation of SAP Business ByDesign?
We just went live with SAP Business ByDesign this year. Implementation of the first finance module by Element Five Solutions took six months. It took longer due to some turnover within GID that directly affected implementation. But Element Five stayed on course and proved to be very knowledgeable about the product and about the finance industry – which helped us down the “correct path.”
Can you share any immediate outcomes resulting from SAP Business ByDesign?
We had previously been spending a lot of money on late payments. That’s because the way we used to track and pay our bills was done by paper, and all our processes centered around that. Those paper bills got lost or forgotten. But since the SAP Business ByDesign implementation, workflow built in to track and watch bill payment has already resulted in process performance improvement, increased productivity, and cost savings.
Not only that, when you pay bills on time and avoid fighting with your customers and vendors, relationships are better. You get things done, bigger discounts are passed on, relationships are healthier, and customers are better served.
What about sustained benefits?
We’ve put in top processes and procedures from an audit perspective that keeps things on track and compliant. People now have more visibility into budget reporting – we’re seeing results in real time versus waiting for a monthly report and being 30 days behind.
From your IT perspective, what’s in store for Goodwill Industries of Denver down the road?
We have an ecommerce site. And we plan to put in software to capture more customer data. With this information, we can do more targeted marketing across social media and traditional media channels.
We’re also working on business intelligence (BI). We want to start combining a lot of data and information to analyze. This is something we couldn’t do before! Thanks to SAP Business ByDesign, we now have a system of record that can be relied upon because we have the confidence that the data is good. We’re excited to start pulling in BI tools to do the analysis that we could never do before.
For non-profits like Goodwill Industries of Denver, the ease of using SAP Business ByDesign is ideal. It is manageable and not complex. I also want to commend and recommend the Element Five Solutions team. It was a very positive experience working with them during the implementation process.