Organisations looking after the needs of the disadvantaged have several pressures in common: lots of demand for their services, shortage of funds, and the need to ensure that what money they have is spent according to the funder’s requirements.
“There’s a growing demand for this type of software,” says Star’s CEO, Trish Hall.
The story begins about five years ago, when Carers ACT began shopping for a new business system. It delivers more than 20 programmes related to support, advocacy and training, mainly helping those who care for aged or disabled family members. It receives a variety of government funding, and so accountability is essential.
Bringing it all together
Various aging, fragmented systems needed to be replaced with something that integrated the community care functions with financial, payroll and job costing. The special requirements triggered a two-year development process by Star, producing a system that it believes is unrivalled, and perhaps unique.
“There are a couple of other software vendors around that have specific community care applications,” Trish says, “but most of those don’t have the financial functions that NFPs generally require. With our development, we’re now bringing the two pieces together in the one system.”
The system is built around MYOB Greentree’s standard functionality, including full financials, HR/Payroll, CRM and Internet modules, but functionality added by Star incorporates two specific streams: one handles client maintenance (carers and care recipients), enabling Carers ACT to set up a client file using a series of definable “picklists”, while the other handles “client data collection” – dealing with items such as feedback, unmet needs and case notes, which required special security provisions.
MYOB Greentree Bookings Management was also modified to provide extra information on residential bookings for respite care, while Purchase Orders was adapted to provide added information for budgeting on government funds, which can be allocated over long periods, to a variety of different services, and with very specific restrictions. Statistics can be fed electronically to funding agencies, providing vital data that helps determine how money is allocated.
Service delivery leader
The implementation was driven by Sophyla Sun, Carers ACT’s then-Finance Manager, who says the organisation will be ready for the expected growth in demand for its services, and is much better equipped to handle any changes in government funding requirements.
“It’s made us a leader in the service delivery field,” she says. “As a result, we’re in a strong position in terms of secure funding and making sure we’re delivering services effectively to our clients in the future.”
Carers ACT was so impressed with Star’s work that it reported its success to its national body. The system is now being implemented at Carers branches in New South Wales and Tasmania. Extended components are also being implemented at Lutheran Community Care in South Australia.
But Star’s development work on CCS isn’t done yet – on the way is the capability for users to set up their own specific programmes, such as community visits, playgroups or emergency relief, enabling organisations to provide detailed information on need and use back to funding agencies.
“In Australia there are some 700 community care organisations,” says Trish Hall, “and we believe that any group working in that space could use CCS.
“I’m hoping that we’ll become the experts in this field; the ones that the NFPs call on when they’re looking for a new system.”