Client: The Food Bank For New York City's mission is to end hunger by organizing food, information and support for community survival and dignity. Working to end food poverty and increase access to affordable, nutritious food for low-income New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs, the Food Banks initiatives focus on direct services, food sourcing and distribution, nutrition and health education, financial empowerment, disaster relief and policy and research. To address the issue of the 3.3 million New Yorkers who experience difficulty affording food, the Food Bank procures and distributes food to a network of approximately 1,000 food assistance programs citywide.
Problem: Of the 1,000 programs to which the Food Bank grants food, each is thoroughly inspected at least every other year. This process involves sending a Community Program Specialist (CPS) to the location and reviewing hundreds of details and documenting everything on paper. Each CPS would make up to four site visits per day and afterwards retype all collected information into Excel or Word files, which were then sent to managers for review. Documents would be returned for follow up, then updated, e-mailed again, and so on, until an inspection was approved and closed. Finding old inspection information involved delving into paper file folders and looking for what you wanted.
Solution: Proximo developed the Agency Relations (AR) System. The Agency Relations department uses a central intranet portal to schedule CPS staff to visit specific programs on specific dates. Each CPS has his or her own tablet PC, to which these schedules are transmitted. The CPS then travels with no paper to do their inspections. They have access to a history of site visits, contacts, maps, grants, and forms. Since they need to be mobile, the tablet PC application works while disconnected from the Internet. When the CPS roams in range of a wireless network or connects via a land line, all completed forms are automatically uploaded to the central database, and new scheduling information is downloaded. The Agency Relations department can review inspection forms online, approve, reject, or request more information.
Result: A CPS has access to data in real-time, carries less weight to each site visit, and has their data entry time cut in half. With online access, the Agency Relations department has cut the review and approval process from fifteen to two minutes per form. With many visits requiring fifteen forms and over 800 visits per year, 2600 hours of labor are being saved per year. The return on investment (ROI) is 100% in less than a year.