Girl Scouts of Western New York

Girl Scouts of Western New York employees at a meeting.

In 2013, the Girl Scouts were faced with the reality of having to make widespread changes across the movement. Membership had been on the decline nationally for a decade. Analysis shows that many underlying reasons relate to strains placed on volunteers who deliver troop programming. To better support the women and men who give of their free time, and ultimately enhance the girl experience, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) launched a Customer Engagement Initiative (CEI) in 2014 to merge people, processes and technology. The transformational effort requires all councils across the country to examine and delineate how they recruit, provide customer service and solicit renewals for the kindergarten through fifth-grade demographic, as well as consider redesigning volunteer and staff roles for greater alignment. The third piece is adopting the customer relationship management platform, called Volunteer Systems, as a tool to foster a more standard way of doing business and tracking interactions. When it was time for Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY) to undertake the CEI, Chief Operating Officer Alison Wilcox sought TCIE expertise to avoid the disruptions plaguing councils of the first implementation round. Rather than address the organizational chart first, GSWNY recognized the need to sharpen business processes through staff and volunteer input. That necessitated a review of the entire organization so as not to view membership through an isolated lens. The approach – which Wilcox and her colleagues admit has been intense – is gaining some fame among other councils and earned them the nickname “business process queens.” The effort is a work in progress, but GSWNY leaders are confident that its inclusivity guarantees broad buy-in of changes to come.

The Approach

  • Performed a value stream map (VSM) blitz to define GSWNY’s member-life-cycle, identifying all departments and processes that touch a member throughout her Girl Scout involvement
  • From the VSM blitz, determined 13 critical processes to address immediately and other important, yet non-urgent, areas to assess later
  • Conducted process mapping sessions for the 13 operational areas – ranging from what happens after an interest form is received, to volunteer training – to visualize all workflow steps involved, identify gaps, and highlight inconsistencies
  • Formed staff committees and volunteer focus groups to facilitate weighty conversations and fine tune decisions about future-state operations

The Impact

  • Expect to improve enrollment efficacy by employing technology (i.e. laptops, tablets, smart phones) during in-person recruiting events
  • Anticipating a shortened response time to parent or volunteer queries by staffing two positions tasked with answering phone calls and emails, backed by an extensive “solutions library” database
  • Decreased the practice of spreading staffers too thin by replacing generalist positions with specialists, thereby creating five new full-time equivalent jobs
  • Plan to centralize GSWNY property inquiries by installing a call center
  • Advanced interdepartmental communication and collaboration
  • Cultivated “smarter decisions” as a result of many viewpoints being shared
  • Strengthened advocacy efforts for requesting resources from GSUSA with a structured, documented process that reveals voids
  • Boosted unification of the council, which had once been four separate councils until a 2008 merger, by exposing differing regional practices that were never addressed