Editorial

In the Spotlight: Offploy

UK-based ex-offender employment experts scale candidate support by 300 percent and reduce admin work by 80 percent, enabling staff to spend less time on paperwork and more time on helping people.

Posted 2 April 2024 by Christine Horton


Introduction

Offploy is a UK-based social enterprise that helps employers recruit ex-offenders through specialised HR consultancy, training, and policy development services. Its mission is to support both ex-offenders and those at risk of becoming re-offenders in obtaining meaningful, mentored, and sustainable employment.

Social enterprises like Offploy are paperwork-heavy environments. Accountability to funders and government entities places detailed recordkeeping front and centre of interactions with the individuals requiring assistance.

Challenge

Producing the documentation required by funders obliged Offploy to spend limited resources on repetitive manual and administrative work.

“Over a 12 to16-week period, staffers spend 15 or 16 hours meeting with each candidate,” said Jacob Hill, managing director and founder of Offploy.

“In the early days of the business, each meeting hour resulted in a further hour spent writing up case reports, retyping handwritten notes, formulating emails, and collating data. It was a nightmare not just for our team, but for the people we were trying to help put their lives back together.”

Offploy required a solution that reduced unnecessary paperwork and the chaos of using separate Excel spreadsheets, handwritten application forms, emails, Word documents and wet signatures.

Offploy needed:

  • To be able to create complete and easily accessible audit trails for each candidate with digital signatures and absolute accountability for each activity completed
  • To guarantee privacy protection for candidate data
  • To eradicate the need for printing and storing large numbers of physical files to help meet their goals of being environmentally responsible

Solution

Hill’s wanted to find a software solution that integrated seamlessly with Salesforce. A consultant introduced him to Conga Grid—and he was able to visualise the entire Offploy database on a single screen, analyse the entirety of his grant data, and perform large-scale contract reviews without exporting the information from Salesforce. Conga Grid also offers Excel-like functionality within Salesforce which enables quick and convenient real-time inline editing and mass updates.

To resolve problems associated with wet signatures, Offploy implemented Conga Sign, an eSignature solution initiated from Salesforce and implementable on any device. This eased pressure on candidates who can now read and sign documents in their own time and at their own pace. And because Conga Sign tracks the status of signature activity and uses analytics to uncover contract roadblocks, Offploy staffers can ensure that all signatures are correctly acquired. They can also create an audit trail for each contract. With signatures acquired via Word and email, this wasn’t previously possible.

Government agencies in particular are often hesitant about utilising digital signatures due to critical legal and security concerns. Offploy worked with commissioners who had indeed required wet signatures, but was able to prove to them through demonstration that Conga Sign was more secure than traditional signatures.

Using Conga Sign, Offploy was also able to undertake a trial project where offenders could avoid a conviction entirely by signing up for an Offploy program on the spot. In these cases, a member of Offploy’s service delivery team would complete the paperwork electronically with offenders on-site at their local police station with the help of just an iPad. With successful completion of the program, the offender avoids a permanent stain on their criminal record.

While Conga Gridtransformed the landscape forthe Offploy management and business development teams by allowing them to review and update the status of ongoing contracts in real time, adding Conga Composer to Offploy’s software suite changed the game for Offploy’s mentors.

Mentors capture the details of every candidate conversation and interaction directly into Salesforce. Previously, creating reports from this information required time-intensive cutting and pasting into pre-prepared Excel spreadsheets. With Conga Composer, mentors can now quickly create personalised project summaries, reports, and action plans at the touch of a button.

This capability represents massive time savings for mentors. Being freed from manual administrative tasks is also a morale boost for staff—as is their ability to give job seekers fuller attention and better mentoring.

“Providing detailed, coherent information gives Offploy its competitive advantage,” explains Hill. “Commissioners in The Probation Service, The Police Service, the National Health Service, the Department of Work and Pensions, and local councils are often steeped in bureaucracy and don’t expect much in the way of reporting from their funded projects. They’re not used to experiencing Offploy’s level of organisation and information and it makes them want to work with us more and refer more candidates to us.”

Offploy’s Jacob Hill

Using Salesforce and Conga, the organisation has recently built an entire HR system to administer and house all staff contracts and policies. This saves time, reduces complexity, and eliminates a major proportion of paperwork—slashing the latter to just seven documents from the original suite of 35.

Cutting down on paperwork has also enabled Offploy to save money on hiring costs. It would have taken two full-time admin staff to do the work that Conga automates, saving the organisation between £22,000 to £28,000 per administrator annually.

In addition to the organisation’s goals of optimising Offploy’s internal workflows, Hill and his team built a free-market solution to help organisations funded by the Department of Work and Pensions build a paperless, automated system to facilitate the distribution of a total of £4 million to young work seekers. Powered by Salesforce and Conga, the youth placement initiative resulted in hundreds of young people nationwide securing employment.

Outcomes

  • Reduced paperwork by 80 percent
  • Reduced admin burden from 16 hours to 30 minutes per candidate in a 12-16 week lifecycle
  • Scaled candidate support by 300 percent
  • Saved additional staffing costs worth up to £60,000 annually
  • Improved appeal of company to a handful of government agencies as a preferred partner and recruitment resource
  • Improved service delivery to a marginalised market
  • Improved employee morale by giving them more time to focus on helping candidates and less time completing manual paperwork