To support rapid growth and measure the impact of their programs, Clontarf needed improved data and visibility across the organisation. Intelligent Pathways designed and developed CIMS, a custom web-based enterprise application that enables Clontarf to gather and store data, present information in meaningful reports, provide visibility into program success and enable decision making.
‘We’ve always known we were making an impact, but now we have the data to really demonstrate it; we have something that’s really valuable and that our blokes in the field overwhelmingly say is fantastic.’
~Craig Brierty, Chief Operations Officer, Clontarf
The Clontarf Foundation is an Australian not-for-profit organisation focussed on improving the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander men. Clontarf supports over 9,000 students in 122 academies across Australia.
Clontarf’s vision from its inception was to make an impact in the lives of its students through supporting their completion of high school, and to assist with their readiness for post-school opportunities. To measure and prove this impact over time the collection of accurate, detailed data at the individual student level became crucial.
Clontarf was facing challenges with collecting and managing this data, particularly as they navigated rapid organisational growth. Using the existing manual and local business systems, it was very time consuming to collect, aggregate and validate data, and then use that data to tell the Clontarf story. Clontarf wanted a solution that would enable them to expand their data and reporting capabilities and mature their performance as they scale into a larger organisation.
Craig Brierty, Clontarf’s Chief Operations Officer said: ‘It’s more than just collecting the data – part of this whole project is about changing the methodology of how we measure our performance. But we needed to be able to collect the data really efficiently first.’
Intelligent Pathways was engaged to develop the Clontarf Information Management System (CIMS). CIMS is a custom web-based enterprise application that enables Clontarf to gather and store data, present information in meaningful reports, provide visibility into the success of Clontarf programs and enable decision making.
The basis for the solution is individual student records, which contain all detailed information on the student’s activities, achievements, events, and attendance. This allows Clontarf a single view of the ‘customer’ to better determine success at the individual and program level. Strong security and permissions were paramount, as the system also houses students’ sensitive personal documents.
A strong focus on the end user was also pivotal to the success of the application. Clontarf wanted a solution that was simple and intuitive, allowing time-poor academy staff to use the system effectively. The focus on ease of use for the end users would also reduce change management and resistance to the new way of working, allowing CIMS to aid academy staff in achieving outcomes, rather than being seen as a burden.
This was part of the overall goal that the application be truly fit-for-purpose; the solution was explicitly designed around Clontarf’s unique needs as a not-for-profit with a low internal IT maturity. The application was developed to be simple to use, but also simple to maintain and highly reliable, allowing Clontarf the freedom to operate and manage the application with their existing resources.
CIMS is a Java application hosted and developed on AWS.
The new CIMS system was rolled out successfully, backed by a strong training program for users, at the start of a new school term which enabled key term reporting information to be entered ‘as it happens’. The system has been enthusiastically embraced by academy staff, who now benefit from significant time savings around reporting. Information on individual academy performance now allows academy directors to focus their efforts, and the Foundation now has capability to track students when they move academies or graduate from the program into Alumni.
The solution was able to be easily adapted to accommodate a different operating model during COVID-19, allowing Clontarf visibility of engagement during a time of great upheaval for schools and students.
However the CIMS system’s most significant outcome is the accurate data and visibility into engagement with students, which allows academy staff to react and respond to students’ needs and better demonstrate the organisation’s impact. This visibility flows upwards through the organisational structure, allowing head office and academy directors to make informed and strategic decisions.
Intelligent Pathways and Clontarf formed a strong working relationship during the course of the project. Communication and transparency were critical to its success, and a focus was kept on the core principles of the solution: student-first, ease of use for staff, and alignment with existing company structure and culture. Together with both technical and strategic leaders of Clontarf, we developed a solution that aligns with their business values and goals, delivered with technical expertise and care.
“One thing that was really pivotal was the relationship. We wanted to work with an organisation that got what we’re about and really listened to what we needed. Right from the start [Intelligent Pathways] said ‘we want to be part of this’ – the relationship was important to them as well.” ~Craig Brierty
Technologies Used: Elastic Beanstalk, S3, CloudFormation, AWS Relational Databases, Web Application Firewall, CloudWatch, X-ray, Route 53