The Girl Scouts Unite Behind Order Tracking
The provider of America's familiar cookies uses QuickBase to oversee order, shipment, and inventory management.
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Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Caramel DeLites.... Girl Scout Cookies have been Americana since the organization's first cookie drive in 1917. Last year alone 30,000 Girl Scouts from the Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council in Boston walked door-to-door across 65 communities, selling more than 1.6 million boxes of eight different cookie varieties. Despite the product's overwhelming popularity, the Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council was spending too much time collecting, counting, and organizing the annual avalanche of orders, along with correcting the common calculation errors prone to a hand-written ordering system. Using this system each Girl Scout would turn her order card in to the troop leader after finishing her sales. The troop leader would transfer this information onto a five-part form, then pass it on to a community volunteer who tabulates all the orders. Simply put, it was a case of too many hands, too many calculations, and too little time. "It changed hands too many times," says Debbie Deacetis, COO of the Council. "There was a lot of opportunity for error, because of all the added columns, multiple prices per box, and calculations that had to be made by different people, all on deadline." After consulting with Dovetail Associates, a management consultant group in Boston, the Girl Scouts selected QuickBase. "We needed to find something to automate our system and make it easier for our volunteers," Deacetis says. "Volunteers are giving their time, and we wanted to find a way to maximize it. Plus, we wanted them to be able to complete reports and submit them without actually having to physically drive the orders to somebody's home." Selected for its customization, functionality, and because it resides on the Web, QuickBase proved to be an easy implementation with a predominantly volunteer customer base, many of whom were not as computer savvy as the typical business client. "It was so easy to get people up to speed with QuickBase," says Feza Oktay, a principal at Dovetail Associates. "Even with the minimal experience with computers that we encountered in this volunteer situation, we accomplished the training in under two months' time." Since the implementation, the Council has seen a reduction in paperwork by more than 90 percent, a significant improvement in the compliance and accuracy of reports, and a 50 percent reduction in the time spent by volunteers. Rewarded with prizes like T-shirts or radios for the amount they sell, the old system took up to two months to tally the reports and determine who was deserving of what. Following the implementation, that time has been cut to 48 hours. QuickBase has even been extended to the Cookie Cupboard, essentially a warehouse where volunteers can come and pick up cookie orders. Through QuickBase a volunteer now makes reservations, enabling the warehouse to prepare the order in advance, saving volunteers time and providing proper inventory management. Finally, trucking companies that deliver cookie shipments to various towns and suburbs now take order information electronically via QuickBase, organizing delivery schedules and getting the right cases to the right Girl Scouts. "The volunteers love the ability to--at eleven at night, when their family is in down mode--go online, enter their information, and send it," Deacetis says. "It has made it so much easier for our limited staff and volunteers." The Payoff As a result of using QuickBase, the Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council has:
  • reduced paperwork by 90 percent and volunteer time by 50 percent;
  • improved shipping and inventory management processes;
  • improved its recognition system by about 100 percent.
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