Purdue University Solved the Math and Science Kit Shipping Mysteries
The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Initiative out of Purdue University has been supporting K-12 education for six years. They provide hands-on science kits and materials as well as training for their teachers. They service around 2,200 teachers, send out almost 8,000 tubs, and impact over 55,000 students per year.
Two years into this initiative, I-STEM was experiencing growing pains. They provided valuable materials to over 2,000 teachers throughout Indiana, but were struggling with limited tracking capabilities. They used a Microsoft Access database showing them what to ship, but they had no tracking per kit or for the items within those kits. For example, they would ship kits out to schools but the teachers would say they didn’t receive it. The kits would get lost and I-STEM was paying a heavy price. And without a true inventory management system, I-STEM also had little insight into what they held in their warehouse. Because of this, they would often overstock on perishable items that would expire on the shelves, wasting valuable dollars.
As a corporate funded program, I-STEM needs to report the impact of their program in order to retain funding. When their sponsor would ask for an update, I-STEM wasn’t able to provide an in-depth level of detail about who they’re helping and how they’re helping. They were unable to provide the information necessary to prove the impact they had on Indiana’s educational system.
To complicate matters further, I-STEMs communications were sporadic and unorganized. They used Microsoft Outlook, but they did not have a way to store and track detailed contact information. This was problematic when targeting emails to specific grades and districts regarding training, general kit changes, etc.
• better control over shipping and inventory.
• streamlined communications to the teachers and to their sponsor.
• better tracking capabilities of teacher development sessions.
• access to real-time data in order to report up the chain.
In March of 2011, I-STEM started searching for a solution to help solve their problems. That is when they learned about WIMS4STEM, a customized solution developed by 2B Solutions and backed by Microsoft Dynamics ® CRM. 2B Solutions had developed a solution for similar initiatives in Alabama and Delaware. Not only could I-STEM benefit from specific features already created for those initiatives, they could also further customize the system to fit their specific needs because Microsoft Dynamics CRM is so flexible and scalable. They soon realized this was the key they needed to run their operations more efficiently and to expand their reach across the state of Indiana.
After a smooth and quick implementation, I-STEM is amazed at the insight they now have into inventory, shipping, and warehouse processes. They can check the system to see which kits are scheduled to be refurbished and can fulfill kit orders in real-time. With the use of an integrated mobile barcode scanning solution, the warehouse can scan items into inventory and the office is automatically updated. Julie Wise, Administrative Assistant at I-Stem says, “Our warehouse is down the road from the office, but we still have full insight into refurbishments and shipping for the day and can actually trust that the data is accurate.”
I-STEM now has complete insight into the types of kits that are shipped, where the kits were shipped, and who signed for the kits. Furthermore, kits are no longer lost during the shipping process. With this level of detail they can effectively respond to questions from the teachers asking where the kits are at any given time. Brandon Sorge, Director of Operations at I-STEM says, “We used to spend hours tracking kits down and sometimes wouldn’t succeed. We couldn’t prove that is was shipped and to where, so we ended up sending new kits that cost us more time and money.” I-STEM is proud to report that they successfully delivered over 8,000 tubs to a total of 2164 teachers.
The Indiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Initiative out of Purdue University was struggling with ineffective and manual tracking of hands-on science kits and teach training records. 2B Solutions had developed a specific solution for similar initiatives in Alabama and Delaware called WIMS4STEM. I-STEM realized the functionality scalability included in WIMS4STEM was a perfect fit. The system was a perfect match for their needs, and they are now reaping the benefits. I-STEM now has better inventory management and planning, better tracking of the kits themselves, better tracking of teacher development events, and access to real-time data to produce better report for their sponsor. 2B Solutions had the right software, but they also are a perfect partner for I-STEM. Julie Wise shares her thoughts about working with 2B Solutions, “2B Solutions has been excellent to work with. When we transferred data to Microsoft Dynamics CRM, they broke things down to make it simple. They were always there to answer any questions and to give guidance along the way.”