Learning Links is a charitable not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to provide children and young people who have difficulties learning with the skills, services and family support that will enable them to realise their potential. Learning Links’ expert psychologists, educators and practitioners work on a one-on-one or group basis to provide the support each child needs to develop vital language, literacy and numeracy skills, along with practical life-skills and strategies that build their confidence, expand social skills, and enhance emotional wellbeing. They are passionate about empowering children to learn and their 200 staff support over 4000 children each year.
Creating an IT Strategy & Digital Roadmap
In 2017, Learning Links undertook a large project to implement Salesforce and FinancialForce which streamlined numerous processes in the client and financial management areas. 2020 saw the start of a new strategic planning phase for Learning Links and there was a strong desire to build on the recent successes and further transform the organisation. As a result, “digital as an enabler” was created as a key pillar in the new 3 year strategic plan to support the organisation’s growth and development.
Learning Links engaged TechAbility to create an IT Strategy and Digital Roadmap as part of this strategic plan. An IT Strategy is a plan of action to create an information technology capability that provides maximum and sustainable value for the organisation and our approach focuses heavily on people and processes in addition to pure technology. We facilitated a series of Discovery Workshops with Learning Links leadership and staff to gather information about current processes and systems. We analysed the infrastructure, hardware and software requirements as well as existing relationships with technology vendors and partners. After agreeing the resulting IT Strategy with the Learning Links leadership team, we created a 3 year Digital Roadmap and implementation plan which includes projects in the People & Culture, Finance, Marketing & Fundraising and Client Services areas.
Learning Links recognised they would benefit from additional support in order to undertake such an ambitious digital transformation. John McCormack, General Manager of Finance & Digital Transformation for Learning Links, explained “we recognised that with any large project, it’s nearly impossible to do it as part of your day to day job, so we took the decision to bring TechAbility on board to help identify and project manage the different aspects of this digital plan”.
The progress so far
Despite embarking on the Digital Roadmap as the COVID-19 first pandemic emerged, Learning Links is tracking well against its implementation plan and have already seen numerous successes. “Largely, we’ve achieved our timeline. There are still probably four quite chunky projects that we are tackling at the moment but we plan to bring them to fruition by the end of this year” John said. Projects that have already been delivered include an employee onboarding program and a learning & development platform in the People & Culture area, a skills audit and training needs analysis, business continuity planning and cyber security training and an event management software package in the Fundraising area.
John explained “the implementation of Blackthorn in the Fundraising area has been one of our most successful implementations. It has enabled us to grow significantly in this area, moving away from a very time consuming process of talking to every customer over the phone and taking payments manually to a very streamlined process via a webpage. We have been able to innovate in this space and this has now become an important revenue stream for the organisation”.
The partnership with TechAbility
When asked about the value that TechAbility has brought to the project, John said “Anita and Jen have done a great job of keeping us on track throughout the project. Anita and I talk on a fortnightly basis and she and Jen have strong project management and change management skills that they have brought to the projects. They also leverage their industry wide experience and knowledge, as well as contacts from other industries, which has given us a broader understanding of what technology solutions exist and what is available for us to consider. In some instances, what we might have thought in the first place is completely different to where we have ended up”.
Anita says it is a project that brings her great pride. “Learning Links is an extraordinary organisation full of wonderful people. As a parent of a child with a learning disability I was really excited to work with Learning Links and support their growth as an organisation. It’s inspiring to see the transformation taking place – growing from a mostly Sydney-focused business to one that has extended their reach to professionals all around Australia and even some overseas. Of course, Learning Links’ success is not all down to the technology – their Organisational Strategy is excellent, and their people are very dedicated to their mission – but the digital transformation projects are enabling this kind of growth and transformation. It has been a really exciting journey and I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together so far and where we will get to”.
Need further support?
A fit for purpose IT Strategy prioritises areas of investment and enables organisations to operate efficiently, rationalise costs and generate growth. Contact us if you’d like support from industry experts to create or deploy an IT Strategy to strengthen your organisation.