Hi Amanda, nice to read your article. U guys are doing great work.
05 September 2017
Our CEO, Michael is on holiday, so this month's A Word from Our CEO has been written by Amanda Haskard, our General Manager.
Life at the Cora Barclay Centre is never dull. We regularly discuss the advocacy work we are doing with the NDIS to secure a better outcome for children who are deaf or hearing impaired and we also focus, most appropriately, on our clinical services and the efforts and energy required to teach children who are deaf or hearing impaired to learn to listen and speak.
However, we don’t ever discuss the engine that is required to make all of this happen. That’s because it’s just not that interesting to the average person. However, I think it is important to understand that the Centre can’t run efficiently unless there is a well-oiled machine behind it.
The back-office team at the Cora Barclay Centre is passionate and dedicated, and put everything into the job that they do. We are all here because we have an underlying desire to help children who are deaf reach their full potential, and we know that back-office roles play a part in making that happen.
The Cora Barclay Centre runs one of the leanest back-office operations you can get with only 11% of costs attributed to administration. We stretch our admin expenses as far as we can so that as many funds as possible can be directed towards children on service. At a glance, this is what we happen in the belly of the Cora Barclay Centre:
By far our biggest headache and the most recent introduction of costs into our suite. Administering 250 plans in an environment that is poor on data, impossible to connect with, changing constantly and supported by an IT system that is unreliable at best has us tearing our hair out. Ploughing funds into trying to automate this process would be throwing good money away as the only constant with NDIS is change and inconsistency. We do our best with administration staff that try and juggle regular processes like billing with the plethora of issues that arise daily.
Payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoicing, receipting, reporting, budgeting, investing, compliance, banking, taxation, audit. The standard accounting functions all apply to the Cora Barclay Centre and require time and energy in making sure we are compliant and financially rigorous. Financial modelling is becoming critical for us as we navigate uncertain territory and appropriate fiscal planning is essential so we are finding that our finance function is becoming more complex and has become a more significant driver into our business planning.
IT and Database
Every business needs a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management system) to support their business and the Cora Barclay Centre is no exception. Our business requires solid data management on clients, donors and sales leads for Soundfields making our database more complex that you might otherwise think. On top of that, we have laptops, phones, tablets, iPads and specific software to manage.
A key revenue source for us that contributes to the costs of helping children who are deaf, we sell FrontRow Soundfield products into schools and to families that need them.
With a shortfall in funding and a worsening position with NDIA Government support, fundraising is at its most important. Our aim is to cover 20% of expenses with fundraising income, raising over half a million dollars in funding. This doesn’t come easy by any means. This team also handles the 50+ volunteers that pass through the Centre regularly and keeps them all engaged and on task.
Getting the message out about the work that we do and the impact that we have is a very simple concept, but one of the hardest things to achieve in our (ironically) very noisy environment. Often we seem to be counteracting against the misinformation there is about our work, and our energies can be spent dispelling the myths and stereotypes. It is however, critical that newly diagnosed families have access to quality information on our service and that we cut through with a clear message.
We produce a website, newsletters, emails, brochures, reports and manage our social media presence. These are all tools that we use to communicate with families, donors and the general community. It is important that we have consistent messaging and a clear brand that underpins our communications and content.
Phones need to be answered, mail collected, appointments scheduled and greeted and paperwork completed. From our front-of-house, to the back-office and right through to our clinical services, we aim for consistency in contact with everyone and a complete commitment to putting the children first.
Have you noticed our new roof? Projects like that require management and planning and on top of that, our ageing building takes more work that we would like, requiring constant maintenance and attention.
Even with everything that we do in our back office, sometimes the wheels fall off and we aren’t as responsive as we would like. No matter what, we do our absolute best with the limited resources that we have and if something does fall through the cracks it is probably because our concentration, at that moment, just happens to be on the little person in front of us who is telling us a story that requires our full attention.
General Manager, Cora Barclay Centre
05 September 2017 - 09:45 pm