Blackbaud Learn has more than paid for itself. The return on investment the University has received has proven greater than anticipated. Through the courses, FIU staff has been able to stretch the products beyond their intended use and take advantage of functionality they didn’t even know existed. The knowledge gathered has sparked innovative thinking that has solved some of the school’s IT and business challenges. It has also empowered employees to create new and better processes and operations.
For example, over the past several years, multiple employees have attempted to merge an old database with the existing Raiser’s Edge database. When the University looked for help on this project, it was quoted $50,000 - $60,000. With information gathered in the training courses, Slama was able to create a workflow to effectively merge the old database. What seven people had tried to do over several years, Slama was able to solve in six months and save the organization approximately $50,000.
“Without our Learn training subscription I wouldn’t be able to provide solutions to problems that people think are impossible or complex,” Slama said. “The basics you learn in training give you a baseline on the theory of the product and it gets you to think. Once you realize what it can do you begin to discover what else it can do. I have found ways to do things that maybe Blackbaud didn’t intend when it built the products or that we didn’t intend when we purchased it.”
The knowledge gained in the courses has enable Slama and others at FIU to come up with some creative, resourceful, and cost-effective solutions. One example is how the University will be able to eliminate the manual entry of approximately 9,000 records annually. After learning how to build a profile update page in NetCommunity, the University purchased tablets in which students can electronically enter all their information. The University has also learned how to import pledges at the same time. This new process will be used at the next alum send-off. Not only will the University be able to save months of data entry time, it will also free itself from potential data entry errors, giving the alumni association more accurate data. Additionally, because new graduates often provide their parent’s address, reconnecting with alumni can cost the University a lot of time and money. After establishing the new alumni association registration process, the University is looking forward to saving the costs associated with finding alumni after graduation.
Staff at FIU are also working together and talking more about ways to solve some of the University’s challenges. Many of these discussions begin after a Learn course. “People are discussing things with each other and teaching each other,” Slama added. “These conversations would not have been possible without the training and we wouldn’t have had the knowledge to come up with the solutions that we have.”