Affinity Education Group unites a nationwide team with Tableau
Single source of truth across 170 centres
70% savings in time to insight
3-year head start in analytics over competitors
Affinity Education Group owns and operates approximately 170 childcare centres across Australia. One of the top three childcare providers in the country, it is a market leader in using technology to build competitive edge. Its advanced analytics and data visualisation capabilities place it at least three years ahead of its competitors.
With up to 4,000 employees attending to 100,000 children across Australia over the next five years, Affinity Education needed a single source of truth that could be relied on by all decision-makers from senior executives to childcare centre workers on the ground. Senior Director of Innovation and Commerce Thomas McDade shares their transformation journey with Tableau to drive decision-making and collaboration across all levels of the business through a united vision of data.
Everything we need to know about the business is embedded in one single view.
Single source of truth with customized insights
Affinity Education’s biggest challenge was the lack of a common view across 170 childcare centres nationwide. Business users had limited access to data and were unable to derive their own insights through self-service analytics. Until they implemented Tableau in 2017, business users relied on a very small team of commercial analysts to find answers to their questions from huge Excel files with over a million rows of data.
With the help of their tech partner KeyData, Affinity Education created a centralised operational dashboard called Pulse, which provides a single source of truth across all levels of the business. KeyData maintains the data environment and updates the dashboards and visualisations consumed by 400 users throughout the Affinity Education business.
From the central dashboard, users can also drill down deeper to get tailored insights, with up to 100 analytical workbooks actively in use by different business units. The dashboard also links to Affinity Education’s key applications such as timesheet and attendance tracking, customer relationship management, human resources, customer pipeline and surveys. Instead of having to look through over 50 applications, information from these different sources is now integrated into one consolidated dashboard.
"Everything we need to know about the business is embedded in one single view," explains Thomas.
As a result, childcare centre managers are empowered with actionable insights through Tableau, and they now spend up to 70 percent less time looking for information. "We're reinvesting those time savings back into our centres, our culture, our capabilities and into the children under our care," Thomas says.
We've seen up to 70 percent time savings for analytics and decision-making, and we're reinvesting that back into our centres, our culture, our capabilities, and the children under our care.
Forward-facing insight fuels effective decision-making
Childcare in Australia is highly competitive with a range of private, not-for-profit and semi not-for-profit operators vying to service the needs of Australian families. The cost of placing a child in care is partially subsidised by the government, depending on the family's income.
A common challenge faced by childcare centre operators is retaining customers during the summer months. Every year, as children reach school age, they start to exit childcare as early as November, ahead of the summer break and start of school at the end of January the following year.
Before Tableau, Affinity Education’s executives and managers worked with month-old retrospective data. Decision-making was reactive and often one step too late. With Tableau as its centralised reporting tool, Affinity Education now gets freshly updated data and forward-facing insights. They use Tableau to understand which customers are leaving and when, and plan summer programs to keep them in care a bit longer.
“We now know where we’re going to land and have 2 to 4 weeks to influence that to get a better result,” says Thomas. “That wasn't even possible prior to Tableau.”
You simply could not turn off Tableau. It’s 100 percent embedded into our management team and their conversations.
Indispensable to the business
More than just a reporting tool, Tableau is now completely immersed in the cultural DNA of Affinity Education. Executives and managers across the Group now share a common view of the business. They sit in regular weekly meetings where they “speak the same language” powered by Tableau. "We’re looking at the same screens and seeing the same results across the entire business," Thomas says.
The Pulse dashboard also empowers childcare centre managers to own their results and business outcomes, for they no longer rely on month-old performance data. Instead, they can track their progress in two-hour intervals, rippling into huge cultural impact across the business.
Industry analysts suggest the company's investment in Tableau has given it a minimum three-year head start on rivals, translating into real business benefit and competitive advantage.
More importantly for Thomas, feedback from executives and managers alike is that Tableau is now indispensable. It is part of the furniture - and fabric - of the company's operations.
"You simply could not turn off Tableau,” he says. “It is cherished by all the management team. It's 100 percent embedded into our management team and their conversations."
KeyData specialises in helping Australian organisations unlock the value held in their data, blending modern technologies and methodologies, Subject Matter Expertise and industry best practices. We are passionate about what we do, and our experts strive to offer customer-centric solutions that are effective and scalable, with always the same goal in mind: enable the people making decisions to be timely and reliably informed.