Going for gold: SAS® helps The Duke of Edinburgh's Award achieve new heights in reporting
A SAS® business intelligence and reporting solution is helping a leading UK youth charity deliver new levels of up-to-date management information to more people in faster ways: to better demonstrate the value it delivers, drive performance improvements and target campaigns effectively
Dedicated to the personal development of young people, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award has the widest reach of any UK youth charity: each year, over 275,000 young people including 30,000 from disadvantaged backgrounds work to achieve their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. To help manage its operations efficiently and cost-effectively, and provide a consistently excellent service to its local organisations and participants, the DofE partnered with SAS to create a reporting solution that utilises its new online management system, named eDofE. Providing up-to-date new insights into key performance indicators, the Charity can now showcase the benefits it delivers in hard numbers.
"The idea behind developing eDofE was to put our old Record Book online," says Janet Dutton, Project Manager at DofE head office, Windsor. From the late 1950s until 2009, all participant record keeping was done in the same manual way. "At the end of each financial year, we'd gather statistics on the previous year," Dutton continues. "So people were managing the DofE and taking decisions using numbers that were 16-18 months old, compiled in spreadsheets by 400 local authorities, then sent for consolidation." A key win delivered by eDofE, which involved creating a central data store and front-end website, is the SAS-based reporting it now enables: valuable new insights available centrally, to local authorities, adult Leaders and participants.
Previously, there was no consistent process for information gathering across the local Operating Authorities licensed to run DofE programmes, ranging from local borough councils to schools. "Problems arise when you have to make strategic or tactical decisions based on data gathered manually that can be up to 18 months old. Information could be anecdotal, and what about standardisation: are you all counting the same things in the same ways?" Dutton says it was difficult to answer questions with certainty: for example, the average age of people doing a Gold, Silver or Bronze DofE programme? "In that case, using SAS meant we could confirm our ideas were correct," Dutton says. "But we could see more. For example, for the first time we saw what the bell curve looked like as numbers of participants tails off as age increases from 21-25. We have a far more accurate idea of what's happening." This also has a big impact on campaigns and communications: "Marketing can be more appropriate, targeting 14 or 18 year-olds, say, as opposed to 22 year-olds."
From 2009 to 2011, the number of young people on the eDofE database leapt from 6,000 to 180,000, with 10,000 added each month. Dutton continues, "We knew what we needed to achieve and where we were going, but had no reporting experience. From a standing start, with SAS' help, we created the solution, populated it with the information required, generated standard reports, piloted and went live. All with just three central people." With eight staff and volunteers undergoing a SAS Education business analytics course, the DofE has since made extensive use SAS® Enterprise BI Server functionality including SAS® Web Report Studio, SAS® Information Map Studio and OLAP functionality, with plans to more fully exploit SAS® Enterprise Guide.
Key measures of success
Last but not least, with selling Participation Places a key income stream, new knowledge also helps a small internal team to secure the funding required to cover DofE staffing costs. "We use SAS to examine the stock and flow of the number of places sold." Dutton says. "And when people consider a donation and have a special area of interest, deprived youngsters say, we can show the impact of a donation in that area. So it's a fundraising tool as well. Again, this is about greater transparency." She adds, "We trust SAS to help us. It provided everything we needed in one place: training, access to consultants, and I must say that SAS support is the best we've ever experienced. I use the helpdesk as a best practice model for how our team responds to calls from our customers. The fact we can talk to somebody who understands what we do and can actually help us is a real differentiator for me. And how we work with SAS helps us to be self-sufficient, to build our own capacity and skills in how we develop and administer the solution."
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The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
Provide new levels of up-to-date management information based on more consistent data and processes; improve reporting and information sharing within a limited budget to highlight the benefits the DofE delivers, strengthen relationships with local Operating Authorities, and enable performance improvements
SAS-based analytics and reporting founded on SAS® Enterprise BI Server, including SAS® Web Report Studio, SAS® Information Map Studio, OLAP capability, SAS® Enterprise Guide, stored processes; plus SAS Education, SAS Consulting for knowledge sharing and skills transfer
New insights delivered and shared faster mean improved decision making, both strategic and tactical, to drive future direction; delivering greater value plus improved and more informed services to all stakeholders; having a positive impact on diverse areas ranging from improving access to fundraising and marketing campaigns
“SAS has been very supportive. The collaboration has been a rewarding experience that will result in the timely delivery of management information”
UK Services Director, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award