The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Initiative out of Purdue University has been supporting K-12 education for six years. They provide hands-on science kits and materials as well as training for their teachers. They service around 2,200 teachers, send out almost 8,000 tubs, and impact over 55,000 students per year.
Two years into this initiative, I-STEM was experiencing growing pains. They provided valuable materials to over 2,000 teachers throughout Indiana, but were struggling with limited tracking capabilities. They used a Microsoft Access database showing them what to ship, but they had no tracking per kit or for the items within those kits. For example, they would ship kits out to schools but the teachers would say they didn’t receive it. The kits would get lost and I-STEM was paying a heavy price. And without a true inventory management system, I-STEM also had little insight into what they held in their warehouse. Because of this, they would often overstock on perishable items that would expire on the shelves, wasting valuable dollars.
As a corporate funded program, I-STEM needs to report the impact of their program in order to retain funding. When their sponsor would ask for an update, I-STEM wasn’t able to provide an in-depth level of detail about who they’re helping and how they’re helping. They were unable to provide the information necessary to prove the impact they had on Indiana’s educational system.
To complicate matters further, I-STEMs communications were sporadic and unorganized. They used Microsoft Outlook, but they did not have a way to store and track detailed contact information. This was problematic when targeting emails to specific grades and districts regarding training, general kit changes, etc.
I-STEM was in urgent need of:
- better control over shipping and inventory,
- streamlined communications to the teachers and to their sponsor,
- better tracking capabilities of teacher development sessions,
- access to real-time data in order to report up the chain.
SOLUTION & BENEFITS
In March of 2011, I-STEM started searching for a solution to help solve their problems. That is when they learned about WIMS4STEM, a customized solution developed by 2B Solutions and backed by Microsoft Dynamics® CRM. 2B Solutions had developed a solution for similar initiatives in Alabama and Delaware. Not only could I-STEM benefit from specific features already created for those initiatives, they could also further customize the system to fit their specific needs because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is so flexible and scalable. They soon realized this was the key they needed to run their operations more efficiently and to expand their reach across the state of Indiana.
After a smooth and quick implementation, I-STEM is amazed at the insight they now have into inventory, shipping, and warehouse processes. They can check the system to see which kits are scheduled to be refurbished and can fulfill kit orders in real-time. With the use of an integrated mobile barcode scanning solution, the warehouse can scan items into inventory and the office is automatically updated. Julie Wise, Administrative Assistant at I-STEM says, “Our warehouse is down the road from the office, but we still have full insight into refurbishments and shipping for the day and can actually trust that the data is accurate.”
I-STEM now has complete insight into the types of kits that are shipped, where the kits were shipped, and who signed for the kits. Furthermore, kits are no longer lost during the shipping process. With this level of detail they can effectively respond to questions from the teachers asking where the kits are at any given time. Brandon Sorge, Director of Operations at I-STEM says, “We used to spend hours tracking kits down and sometimes wouldn’t succeed. We couldn’t prove that it was shipped and to where, so we ended up sending new kits that cost us more time and money.” I-STEM is proud to report that they successfully delivered over 8,000 tubs to a total of 2164 teachers.
Another key objective for I-STEM is to provide teachers with the right training and tools to effectively teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to students. Julie Wise says, “Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been a huge help in allowing us to manage our teacher contact database. If teachers have moved to another school, we can track that in WIMS4STEM. We have the right contact information and can continue to support their efforts with our program.” I-STEM also uses the portal that’s included in WIMS4STEM. With the portal, teachers can manage their own registration for upcoming trainings and streamline administration of these events. Julie says, “It’s extremely easy to see registration updates and we can export them to Microsoft Excel for further analysis, enhancing communications with other departments.”
As part of their corporate funded initiative, I-STEM needs to report the impact they have on teachers and schools across Indiana. With WIMS4STEM, they can see records by teacher and by school district. They can see what training teachers have completed and what kit orders those teachers have made. This insight also allows I-STEM to send out targeted emails with a wide variety of information. For example, if they’re holding a mid-year training session in one area, they can filter within WIMS4STEM so that only the teachers within that particular district are invited. Their communications are relevant and timely, and they can also track incoming questions and outgoing answers, improving the level of service to their client base.
The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Initiative out of Purdue University was struggling with ineffective and manual tracking of hands-on science kits and teacher training records. 2B Solutions had developed a specific solution for similar initiatives in Alabama and Delaware called WIMS4STEM. I-STEM realized the functionality and scalability included in WIMS4STEM was a perfect fit. The system was a perfect match for their needs, and they are now reaping the benefits. I-STEM now has better inventory management and planning, better tracking of the kits themselves, better tracking of teacher development events, and access to real-time data to produce better reports for their sponsor. 2B Solutions had the right software, but they also are a perfect partner for I-STEM. Julie Wise shares her thoughts about working with 2B Solutions, “2B Solutions has been excellent to work with. When we transferred data to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, they broke things down to make it simple. They were always there to answer questions and to give guidance along the way.”