Duet’s mission is to “Develop, Unite, Empower, Together.” And it’s evident that the employees of the community-based, nonprofit agency, founded to support children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, embody this mission. Duet came to life in 1968, thanks to a grassroots movement of people with disabilities, their families, and concerned citizens. It is the first community-based developmental disability service provider in the U.S. Duet offers residential and day services, employment support and job coaching, community advocacy, mental health and other services. It provides employment opportunities through three businesses: a recycling company; a vintage shop specializing in refinished furniture; and a saw shop that makes stakes for construction companies and surveyors. In addition, Duet partners with other companies to provide employment options at its day service locations. These opportunities mean that everyone supported by Duet has the chance to earn a paycheck. Plus, revenue from each business adds to the funding that Duet secures from the State of Nebraska as well as from grants.
Blazing new trails but not in IT.
According to Deputy Director Sarah Graham, Duet’s approach was groundbreaking. It helped people leave institutions and find independence, so they could confidently live, work, and play in their communities. She says, “Being the first organization to provide community-based services in the U.S. meant we did a lot of trailblazing. However, in our day-to-day processes, we didn’t evolve with the times.” Duet’s previous executive director retired in 2017 after 40 years of service. At that time, the organization had just 50 computers for 700 people. The result? Processes and workflows were mostly manual and paper-based. “Sometimes one piece of paper was touched by no fewer than 10 people,” Graham says. This made everything difficult and time-consuming—from paying Duet’s bills and employees to providing support services. Siloed systems didn’t help either. “Our finance, HR, and payroll teams are just a few people each, but they also support another 200 people in our sister organizations,” Graham says. “We had three groups of people always entering the same information three times. Calling it painful is an understatement.”
We cut our monthly closing cycle times by two-thirds with Workday.
Time to modernize IT and automate processes.
When Debbie Herbel took over as Duet’s new executive director, the organization set out to modernize IT and make the Agency’s processes and workflows more efficient via automation. “We evaluated many different software offerings, but the more we did, the more it was clear that Workday was the platform we needed,” Graham says. “We decided to deploy all our new Workday solutions at the same time, with the help of Workday partner Avaap, which was with us every step of the way.” Moving from paper-based to digital workflows challenged Duet’s staff. “Like most nonprofits, our people wear multiple hats. Most have been with us for decades, never using technology to do their jobs,” says Graham. “We had a steep staff learning curve, but Workday’s intuitive design helped accelerate adoption. Our time savings lets us focus more on service delivery.” Workday also unified Duet’s finance, HR, and payroll systems. “Now our small but mighty finance, HR, and payroll teams are doing less data entry and more valuable work like analyzing and trending data that is much more trusted because it’s from one source,” Graham says. “We cut our monthly closing cycle times by two-thirds with Workday. Reporting is much easier, too.”
We had a steep staff learning curve, but Workday’s intuitive design helped accelerate our adoption. Our time savings lets us focus more on service delivery.
Greater transparency cuts overtime by up to 30%.
General employees use Workday Time Tracking the most, and it shows how Workday has improved transparency in Duet’s organization. The approval process for vacation requests provides one example. Employees requesting vacation sometimes blamed favoritism when someone else got those same days off but they didn’t. “But now we approve requests based on who was first, and Workday time stamps them, so we’ve eliminated that issue. In fact, online vacation requests won over many employees to Workday,” Graham says. “We also can drill down into overtime with Workday, which has helped us cut it by as much as 30%.”
Remote online access to cloud-based Workday made a huge difference to Duet’s operations when the pandemic hit in 2020. “We closed all our day services and offices from spring until midsummer,” Graham says. “Our business would’ve stopped with our previous systems. But with Workday, especially its self-service, we didn’t miss a beat.” Workday Grants Management capabilities have also proven beneficial, Graham reports. One of Duet’s sister nonprofits pays many employees through grants. “Now they’re able to tie every single hour that people work to a specific grant with Workday,” she says. “That was never possible before.”
We also can drill down into overtime with Workday, which has helped us cut it by as much as 30%.