To meet the growing demand for its programs the Starlight Children’s Foundation needs to double its revenue in the next three years, says CEO Louise Baxter.

Since Baxter stepped into the CEO role in mid-2009 the children’s not-for-profit has reversed a double digit decline in revenue and “incredibly high staff turnover”.

The number of paid employees has increased from 130 to 360 and in 2016 Starlight’s annual revenue reached $35.5 million.

“Our revenues have close to tripled in the last seven to eight years… and that’s without being smart, agile and mobile,” Baxter told Which-50 during an interview between sessions at the Salesforce WorldTour this week.

Now the chief executive wants to accelerate that rate of growth through a program of operational excellence enabled by technology. That includes initiatives like improving the digital tools for community fundraising, growing its database and driving more corporate partnerships. Those programs are underpinned by a broader organisational transformation.

“It became very clear to me that the scale and the growth that we all need in our organisation is all about automated, replicable, end-to-end process,” she said.

Pursuing Operational Excellence

Operational excellence is required to achieve customer centricity, Baxter says. For Starlight that means understanding the needs of its various stakeholders including volunteers, donors, staff, health professionals and the children and families the organisations supports.

“You’ve got to put yourself in their shoes, understand their needs, and then understand what are the pieces of technology that make that [experience] smart, agile and mobile,” Baxter said.

Initially the CEO approached the transformation as a digital project from a technology standpoint, but felt like the organisation “wasn’t connecting the dots.”

“Back then I was thinking it was a digital project and while you use technology it’s not a technology project.”

Starlight’s technology stack is built on Salesforce CRM and marketing cloud. The organisation also participates in Salesforce’s innovation consulting program Ignite, to brainstorm methods to achieve the company’s goals.

Baxter strongly believes transformation is not a project that can be achieved as an isolated activity.

“Transformation needs to be something that we are doing on a daily basis,” she said.

“We all used to operate in a kind of cottage industry where we had little silos for each of the specific areas. Part of this transformation is we need that to operate in one line. So, business as usual needs to happen at the same time.”

To help break down silos and identify how technology can be used across the entire organisation, Starlight created an operational excellence team six months ago. Made up of people with skills in technology, data, digital, customer experience, project management and strategy, the team works across the business to aid the organisation’s transformation.

Also speaking at Salesforce WorldTour was Craig Ryman, Group Executive, Technology and Operations, AMP who is working on migrating 40 to 50 systems onto the Salesforce platform.

“It’s a little bit like flying a plane and changing the engines at the same time. But we believe if we want to be truly customer-centred … that’s a goal worth pursuing,” Ryman said.

Baxter agrees, arguing “That’s exactly what all businesses need to be doing.”

“If you’re not on this road now, you’ve really missed it,” she said.

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