Written by Cai Gwatkin.
Make Give Live (MGL) is a social enterprise which connects, empowers and enriches the lives of people in their communities who might be struggling with isolation or well-being. MGL was founded by Claire Conza in 2016 and operates similarly to a charity in that its main goal is the betterment of the community. Volunteers get together every week to catch up, have a cuppa, and knit beanies. These beanies get sold to customers on a “buy one, give one” model: for every beanie sold, one is given to a person in need, be they homeless, elderly, or otherwise.
Despite being a generous organisation of volunteers, MGL promises to ship the beanies to their customers within a two week period. Up until now, Claire and her community group managers have been using a system of complex spreadsheets to manage everything from orders to production. With five groups around Auckland this has been a challenging task for all involved. Claire came to Fronde looking to improve her business processes and free up resources for a nationwide expansion this year. Fortunately, this coincided with the internship programme at Fronde.
The team working on the Make Give Live project consisted of the two interns, Sanche Brydon and myself, Cai Gwatkin, as well as a few Frondies: Eric, John, and Adnan. Sanche and I are both coming into our final year of our degrees in Business Information Systems and Software Engineering respectively. Our somewhat different areas of study and expertise allowed us to play to our strengths while learning from each other to develop the solution we created for MGL.
Through discussions with Claire, with the help of one of MGL’s group managers, Becky Smith (who kindly volunteered much of her spare time over the project), we realised that the most beneficial areas to focus on was the production management and order fulfilment processes. From the beginning it was obvious that Salesforce provided the solid platform needed to efficiently develop the new system, whilst also having powerful, built-in CRM capabilities which could be implemented in future developments. Salesforce was therefore our platform of choice as we set out to build the solution for Claire.
A fast, simple and effective user experience was quickly identified as a key requirement of the new system, as we needed to ensure the volunteer group managers would be able to use our solution with no prior back-end experience. We launched ‘Out of the box Salesforce’ and then set about building beautiful custom pages with minimum number of clicks needed to perform tasks.
Another key requirement for the system was informative reporting. The Salesforce report creation tool was leveraged to provide timely, enlightening visualisations of the trends in orders and production to allow informed decisions to be made.
After 8 weeks of development we delivered a system that allows Claire to input new orders received so that group managers can log in, pick orders to be responsible for, and track the production of the beanies in the orders so they can be fulfilled. The sleek custom pages we created allow the group managers to pick up orders quickly and easily, as well as allocate the making of each beanie to the makers in their community groups. Once a maker has finished creating their masterpiece, the group manager can then tick off the beanie as being completed at the start of their next meeting, and the fulfilment of the order can be monitored.
After each demo, Claire became more excited to use the system as she could see hours of her time once spent on spreadsheets becoming free to really grow her business. That enthusiasm spilled over into the development team which made us extremely happy to hand over the finished system at the end of the internship programme. We were even happier when we were each given a hand-crafted beanie, as modelled in the photo.
Sanche and I learned a great deal thanks to the excellent Salesforce team at Fronde. As this was our first time working with Salesforce we were very fortunate to have many talented and generous Frondies around us in the Auckland office. Whenever we faced a new challenge they were quick to offer advice and expertise. Through the team effort we are confident we have created a user friendly, intuitive and functional solution for Claire and Make Give Live.
We caught up with Claire, founder of Make Give Live, to talk about her experience of Fronde and the project.
When I first heard the possibility of being the recipient of the Fronde internship project I was ecstatic! We’re not classed as a charity, so I was especially grateful when they chose to help us. We are a social enterprise, which I like to think of as a group of people that have the head of a business, heart of a charity in the hands of the community.
Our first team meeting was the day they moved into their new premise, so our meeting was huddled around a whiteboard in the middle of a busy room. Guy Barton and John Bartlett (two of Fronde’s Salesforce consultants), took their time to really understand our biggest challenges and pain points. They prioritised what key functionality would make the most impact to our venture, and put the markers and whiteboard to good use by designing a flowchart of our processes. It was really useful to see our processes drawn out and organised that way, it painted a very clear picture.
Meeting our interns was the next exciting stage! Two of our group managers came along with me as it was important to understand MGL from differing perspectives. We were warmly welcomed into Fronde and were given a good understanding about everyone's roles and expertise, affirming that we were in capable hands.
As we began to exchange knowledge and answer questions, it was clear that we were dealing with a technical team. Questions were asked to try and get a clear picture of how we manage our makers and 'production', to which we responded that it is designed around the enjoyment of the makers, which presented a challenge as it meant that there would need to a degree of flexibility.
Unfortunately, I was only able to attend a couple of meetings with the team face-to-face before heading on a tour of NZ to scout new stockists and find potential new communities. However, thanks to the power of Google, I was able to join in on the weekly demos via Google Hangouts and still feel like part of the action. Every demo was carefully thought out and presented new ways of managing what turned out to be a complex process. I could feel hours of my time being saved. The interns explained everything so well and nothing seemed too much for the team! They were so dedicated to making it the best it could be.
We are happy and satisfied with the end result that Fronde provided. We are well equipped with information, training and manuals to help us get going with the new business process. We have begun to import data into Salesforce which is exciting as it means that our data will be transported into visually appeasing graphic reports. This project has continually affirmed to me the value of technology to any type of business. Although Make Live Give is far from the technology sector, thanks to Fronde, we are now able to scale and reach out to a greater range of people.
What Fronde has done is nothing but amazing. It’s a win, win as this fantastic program is a step towards contributing to a better world whilst simultaneously creating an ideal learning environment for the interns.