In Part 1, we shared how NetSuite.org’s annual Hackathon 4Good created the space for NetSuite developers, partners and customers to come together to prototype innovative solutions for two of its nonprofit partners, Found Animal Foundation (FAF) and Good360. In this post, we share how NetSuite Partner Yantra took its winning idea and spent 4 months building out the solution pro bono.
Yantra Goes Above and Beyond Post-Hackathon
While Hackathons are a great way to produce a host of innovative ideas in a short time frame, the main criticism of this style of event is that they often fall short in delivering real world solutions. The problem isn’t with the quality of ideas produced at Hackathons, since these events bring together incredibly talented and passionate technologists, the real issue is that developing software solutions to address complex problems takes time and a commitment beyond a day-long or weekend-long Hackathon.
The NetSuite.org team works with our charity partners to explore all the different options for making hackathon projects a reality, including brokering relationships between volunteers and charities after the event. It was this introduction that April Harris, Program Officer for FAF, says was key to getting the project started. Even so, it’s not always a sure thing to be able to see the prototyped solution go-live.
This time however, the stars aligned. After being selected as part of the winning team at the Hackathon 4Good, the team at Yantra, led by Hackathon participants Vikram Bhandari and Geetanjli Dhanjal, decided they wanted to commit to seeing their prototype come to life. It was the first time the team had participated in a Hackathon and they felt committed to customizing a solution to help FAF scale its microchip program and see that more pets are returned to their owners instead of ending up in overcrowded and under-resourced shelters.
Understanding Processes to Develop a Winning Solution
Post-Hackathon, the first step for Yantra, prior to building out a solution for FAF, was to better understand the organization’s processes. Through in-depth conversations with April Harris and Corporate Controller Dominic Juneau, Bhandari, VP of Yantra, was able to better understand FAF’s entire microchip fulfillment process, from how leads were handled to how orders were ultimately shipped and received by customers.
It was through these conversations that Bhandari and Dhanjal, Director of Global Engineering Practice at Yantra, along with Taher Vohra, NetSuite Solution Architect at Yantra , realized how much of FAF’s microchip fulfillment process was done manually.
One of the most important ways FAF saves lives is through a robust and growing partner network of animal rescue organizations and shelters that purchase and use microchips. Manual work, human intervention, and a long cycle of engagement provided FAF partners with a poor experience, putting that robust and growing network at risk and resulting in missed leads, inconsistent data and incorrectly classified leads. Harris, Bhandari and Dhanjal realized that if they could automate the lead process when a partner first engaged with FAF, it would improve the experience for partners and FAF staff.
The team built out custom questionnaires that allowed NetSuite to automatically determine eligibility and provide the partner with the right written agreement. Now, partners have a seamless experience with FAF. Harris says this automation has enabled them to reduce the microchip fulfillment process from 30 days to 5 days. The automation has also meant that the team hasn’t received a single complaint from their supplier about an unqualified lead ending up in its system.
The Yantra team also automated the renewal process to help organizations stay on top of their microchip supply and easily reorder from FAF. The result is that staff time can be diverted from sending reminder emails to growing and developing their partner network and distributing more microchips.
The process took about four months and 160 hours of pro bono service, but at the end of the project the FAF team now has a working solution that Harris says has helped them to be “more productive,” and helped her to be a “better leader.”
“Participation in the Hackathon was an amazing experience and the efficiencies that were created far offset any work that we put into it,” said Harris.
Expanding our Impact
As a corporate social responsibility department within a B2B company, one of our challenges and opportunities is to not only engage our own employees in our efforts, but to exponentially expand our impact by educating, inspiring and engaging our customers and partners in our social impact work. The Hackathon is a perfect example of this model -- in one 12-hour event we’re able to provide the chance for partners to see the value and benefit of using their skills for good, donating their time and expertise to help a charity improve their capacity through technology solutions. We hope that this will inspire them to go back to their company and build similar programs to donate their skills pro bono to the sector. We’re so pleased this is just what happened with Team Yantra! (www.yantrainc.com).
Interested in participating in NetSuite.org’s 2016 Hackathon 4Good? This year’s hackathon will take place on Monday, May 16, the first day of NetSuite’s SuiteWorld customer conference, and benefit nonprofit organizations Juma Ventures and Ashoka. Register today!