AUS Recruit, an Australian athlete promotion company, were growing fast. They knew they needed a better way to manage their athletes through every stage of their promotion process.
After an Office 365 Exchange Online email roll-out, GCITS and AUS Recruit turned to SharePoint Online to build a scalable, cloud based athlete management platform. The project was featured on Kochie’s Business Builders, won an Australia-wide award, and gave AUS Recruit the peace of mind to scale their operations on a proven system.
This project was completed by the GCITS team as part of the Ozbizweb Group and won the Microsoft Australia Partner Award for Excellence in Small and Mid-Market Cloud Solutions. In 2016, Ozbizweb Group will be replaced by GCITS as the Microsoft Partner.
Who are AUS Recruit?
Founded in 2011, AUS Recruit are a Gold Coast based Athlete Promotion company that connects athletes in Australia and New Zealand with the US college system on sporting and academic scholarships. Ben Thiel and four core management staff coordinate a team of 13 recruit advisors located around Australia.
“We’ve grown strongly in the last three years, we currently have an office in Queensland, an Office in NZ and one in Los Angeles.” Ben reports.
Recruit advisors identify and refer talented athletes to AUS Recruit, where they are assessed for eligibility, registered in the AUS Recruit system and promoted to the appropriate college coaches.
The requirements for qualifying and placing athletes in the US are strict and varied, and require the input and expertise of multiple staff members.
AUS Recruit’s IT Challenges
In 2014, as word was spreading about the AUS Recruit program, Ben and his team were taking on more athletes than they could manage. Opportunities were being missed, information was lost and some athletes were being let down.
“Communication with my staff has been one of the biggest challenges, and the miscommunication and misinformation that gets sent around” (Ben Thiel)
AUS Recruit was using a POP3 email server for all staff. Ben recognised the value of keeping track of communication, and had configured a collection mailbox where all email was forwarded into a single inbox. Unfortunately, this did not work well.
“It was hard to keep track of where we were. We had different email on different computers, nothing synced, I didn’t know if people had been responded to or not.”
Ben and the team were using a spreadsheet synced on Google Drive to track the progress and info relating to all past and current athletes. The problem with the spreadsheet was that it was just a spreadsheet, it didn’t alert anyone when things when wrong or deadlines were being missed. Ben found that a lot of his time was spent putting out fires due to administrative oversights. And then the syncing issues began.
“Because we’ve got staff all around Australia, we found it to be quite slow and we weren’t always sure that the information uploaded would represent what someone else was looking at around the country.”
With unsupportable growth due to an unsuitable management system and a dated email server, it wasn’t hard for Ben to say yes when we demonstrated the features of Exchange Online.
“When Ozbizweb suggested that we change over, and look at Office 365, we jumped at the opportunity. “, Ben says.
Elliot Munro from GCITS discusses the rollout, “AUS Recruit were experiencing missing emails, inconsistent inboxes and no syncing of items between devices. We switched the email to Office 365’s Exchange Online to resolve this and the email migration took place without issue. Soon after, we booked a time with AUS Recruit to demonstrate the other features of the platform.”
Ben Thiel saw the potential of SharePoint Online’s workflows and custom lists as a way to replace their problematic spreadsheet.
Operating in an industry with little competition was both a blessing and a curse for AUS Recruit. There was no line of business application that serviced their needs, anything they needed, they would have to build themselves or get developed. And for a young business, traditional software development was prohibitively expensive.
As it was the first time GCITS’s Elliot Munro had engaged in this sort of work, an agreement was reached to build the platform at a reduced cost.
The Technical Details
Elliot Munro discusses how the project was implemented:
SharePoint workflows are used to automate repeatable business processes. We used workflows for assigning custom permissions to items for Recruit Advisors, and generating custom documents using Word Templates. We designed these workflows in close consultation with the customer. This had the twofold effect of getting Ben comfortable with the platform, and giving him an understanding of the capabilities for future feature requests.
We used an Access Web App to track the results of the Athlete Promotions phase of the AUS Recruit process. The Access Web App connects to the Athlete Database SharePoint List and filters it by athletes currently ready for promotion. The Access Web App is set up to support AUS Recruits existing promotions process. This allows the AUS Recruit team to stay up to date with the current communications between AUS Recruit Staff, US Coaches and Australian Athletes.
We set up an enquiry management system in SharePoint that collects all web enquiries received and collects the enquiries into a SharePoint list. Once an enquiry is received, a workflow runs which assesses the entered enquiry values to calculate an Enquiry Score. The Enquiry Score helps to ascertain the likelihood of the Athlete being successfully promoted, and is used by AUS Recruit management to assist in assigning the enquiry to the appropriate recruit advisor.
The end result is an easy to use cloud-based management portal, accessible securely from anywhere, with any device.
AUS Recruit’s value stems from its proven promotions process, and SharePoint Online ensures that each athlete is taken through the same process from start to finish.
From the moment that an athlete makes an enquiry, to their trip overseas to pursue their dream of competing in the US College System, everything is tracked, automated, and the right people are involved at the right time.
The solution was featured on Kochie’s Business Builders, and won us the Microsoft Australian Partner award for Excellence in Small and Mid-Market Cloud Solutions. See the videos below.