IE Digital was selected to deliver Career Ready's digital strategy, which included the design and build of both a new marketing website and a sophisticated online Volunteer Management System.
UK charity Career Ready delivers a structured employer engagement programme and opens up the world of work to young people. In order to support its ambitious growth objectives, Career Ready embarked on a transformation of its brand and operations.
The new digital platform allows Career Ready to register and process mentors far more efficiently, reducing the admin overhead per applicant by 80%. It also helps schools and employers to manage their students and volunteers, and the charity to generate extensive impact and engagement reports to strengthen relationships with key partners.
Visit the Career Ready website.
Career Ready knew the existing website and offline business processes were not fit for purpose.
Built on hard-code and with manually intensive systems for recruiting volunteers, it was a barrier to growth. The processes for registering and DBS checking new volunteer mentors was frustratingly unwieldy, and hindered growth.
With the charity ambitious to grow its service and make a difference to many more young people, it needed much more than just an attractive new website. They needed a platform that would:
- Attract employers, volunteers and schools
- Engage a wide range of stakeholders
- Facilitate the management, running and evaluation of the programme
- Streamline lengthy processes for volunteer criminal records checks.
IE Digital began with a detailed discovery phase, including interviews with staff across the organisation, to arrive at a comprehensive list of functional requirements for the web platform. The emphasis was firmly on elements that would support Career Ready to fulfil its strategic objectives, and this enabled us to prioritise the phased development.
Based on what we’d heard, IE Digital developed an Agile, iterative digital strategy to meet the objectives in four separate development phases.
This approach ensured that a much improved, more efficient service could go live within just 2.5 months, in time for the new academic year. The complete project spanned 18 months, with each iteration providing a significant leap forward for the charity’s systems.
IE Digital chose to work with a combination of industry-standard Open Source technologies (Laravel, Angular and Drupal), integrated with Career Ready’s existing Salesforce CRM system.
We built in resilience by using a loosely coupled architecture, ensuring that if one part fails, the others revert to an 'offline mode'.
Phase 1: Volunteer registration and communications
The first priority was to improve the volunteer registration process. Career Ready processed thousands of mentors each year through the full criminal records disclosure process – DBS in England, Wales and Ireland; PVG in Scotland. IE Digital configured the system to automatically check for disclosure updates and feed them into the pre-existing Salesforce CRM system. Automated email communications keep volunteers updated on progress.
This streamlined and simplified process offers a better user journey for volunteers and greatly reduces the administrative burden for Career Ready staff.
Phase 2: Student management
Next IE Digital added student registration functionality, to capture key details such as qualifications and interests. These are automatically fed into Salesforce and shared with charity staff and programme coordinators at partner schools, via real-time dashboard reporting.
This facilitates the allocation of volunteers, matching mentors with students, and supports the end-to-end management of the programme: arranging interviews; informing managers of progress; and tracking actions. It also provides a realistic experience of a job application for students as part of their skills development.
Phase 3: Relationship support and management
The next phase of development involved streamlining the processes involved in work placements and internships.
The system now allows employers to add new opportunities to the Career Ready platform, and charity staff to allocate them to schools and colleges across the UK. These are then viewed by teachers, who can match their students to suitable internships. Students’ digital application forms are accessible to employers, ensuring the most suitable student is chosen for each placement. Everything is automatically recorded in the CRM.
Phase 4: Impact reporting and iterative system enhancements
Reporting had become a time-consuming activity for Career Ready, but was essential for maintaining strong relationships with supporters. In the final phase of the project, IE Digital introduced automated CSR reporting for employers to show the impact of their volunteers’ contributions to students, freeing up considerable time for the charity.
IE Digital also took the opportunity to step back and reflect upon progress to date, to ensure lessons were being learnt from usage to date, and to develop further the robustness of the system.
IE Digital provides comprehensive ongoing support to Career Ready, ensuring the business-critical programme / volunteer management system and website are maintained with the latest security updates etc.
We also take on new ad hoc digital projects and marketing collateral as they arise, to support the charity’s growth.