Based in Gainesville, Georgia, Pay It Forward Scholarships
is a non-profit organization that provides roughly $6 million annually to fund students’ educations at private schools throughout the state. The organization receives contributions from individuals, families, and businesses, which then become scholarships for children in grades K through 12, 50 percent of whom come from low-income households. Pay It Forward also has access to $58 million in dollar-for-dollar tax credits to reserve for Georgia taxpayers who donate money. The catch: The state of Georgia gives Pay It Forward has just 24 hours – January 1st of each year – to enter relevant information on each of its thousands of donors into their Department of Revenue’s (DOR) online portal. The non-profit risks losing the tax break for every potential recipient they cannot get entered into the system. It is a tedious, time-consuming manual process that requires considerable resources to accomplish. Pay It Forward sought a better way with Foxtrot, their Automated Employee.
Pay It Forward’s process for entering donor information was itself not as complicated as it was tedious. Pertinent data on each of their benefactors is collected throughout the year and stored in an Excel spreadsheet. To secure a tax credit for those donors, Pay It Forward must enter the names, addresses, social security numbers, and other data on each, one-by-one, into an online form provided by the Georgia DOR. The job involves copying, pasting, typing, and submitting a single form for each of Pay It Forward’s thousands of donors.
Because the state’s unusual stipulation gives Pay It Forward just 24 hours to enter all of this information, the non-profit has historically been forced to hire up to 30 temporary data entry workers to help with the work. The influx of manpower is onerous, growing their staff from 6 to nearly six-times that for just one day each year. It is also costly; Pay It Forward operates on just a 5 percent operating margin and much of that was spent on their day of temporary labor. “In order to get this work done, we would have to bring in temporary labor, train them on how to enter the information, manage them, and monitor their progress.” Explained Cary Sinnet, Director at Pay It Forward. The organization considered several alternatives, including the status quo, to make this big job easier. The team arrived at Foxtrot Professional Edition by EnableSoft, software that would ultimately automate the process of pulling data from their donor spreadsheet and entering it into the state’s online forms.
THE FOXTROT SOLUTION
Roughly two weeks before their January 1 deadline, Pay It Forward purchased and downloaded Foxtrot from EnableSoft’s website. In the two weeks that followed, the group tested the software and wrote the scripts that act like a set of instructions for Foxtrot. Just after midnight on January 1st, Pay It Forward commenced their Foxtrot project. Working in and between the user interface of their spreadsheet and Internet Explorer, Foxtrot moved, copied, and pasted data into the online database just like a person would. Unlike a person, Foxtrot completed 120 records per minute, a rate six times faster than the 20 records per minute that their human labor could muster. Moreover, with Foxtrot, data was entered without error. “We do not any second chances in this process,” explained Sinnett. “The state gives us 24 hours and won’t notify us that there was a keying error afterward. We have to do each application right the first time.”
“We develop Foxtrot for situations like this, and organizations just like Pay It Forward. Most small companies cannot afford to bring in temporary labor to help with routine jobs like data entry,” explained Richard Milam, CEO of EnableSoft. “Foxtrot is much more affordable but above all, it’s fast, accurate, and scalable. It’s an “Automated Employee,” rather than a temporary one.” Pay It Forward completed their data entry early and although the Foxtrot Support team remained on stand-by throughout this unusual project, no early-morning help was needed. “Foxtrot made an enormous difference in our ability to enter all of our applications in one day and minimize the amount of HR resources we had to use,” said Cary Sinnet. “It took what was normally a very difficult day and made it a very easy one. We just let Foxtrot do its job.”