In less than six months, two Mercy Ships staff members developed an online volunteer application process that allowed them to leave paper applications and manual data-entry behind, reducing volunteer application times from days to hours. Now, with a 20 percent increase in submissions, the organization is poised for even greater growth and using OutSystems for future web-based applications.
Applications completed in as little as 30 minutes
Returning applicants can update profiles
“An online application allows us to be more competitive in the non-profit/volunteer sector. It also allows us to provide better overall volunteer experience to those interested in serving with us and helps in our recruiting efforts.”
Manual application process hinders accuracy and operational efficiency
Challenge - Drawing volunteers from more than 40 countries, Mercy Ships recruits for a wide variety of positions, each requiring a unique skill set. Lacking an online submission process, the Mercy Ships Human Resources Department was faced with an antiquated and inefficient recruitment system in terms of both manpower and accuracy. Once received, applications were reviewed and manually entered into a database, increasing the potential for error on top of the challenges of deciphering handwritten and poorly transmitted documents. Applications could even be submitted without such critical information as health records or special licenses.
Further compounding the difficulties, recruitment applications were of a “one-size-fits-all” variety, forcing a deckhand to wade through the same application process as a surgeon. Mercy Ships needed a format that made sense from a user standpoint and allowed for full integration with its legacy system and database. Additionally, it needed a customizable solution, offering flexibility to meet the needs of the wide range of occupations and skill sets for which the organization recruits.
Mercy Ships selected OutSystems because:
- It allows for out-of-the-box integration with the existing database, an essential component for any solution they chose.
- Its intuitive interface and quick learning curve would allow the organization to tap into internal resources and speed deployment, while simultaneously decreasing the project’s cost, critical for any nonprofit.
- Having cross-browser functionality would mean reaching more potential volunteers.
Personalized, intuitive application process improves volunteer experience
Solution - Using OutSystems, two Mercy Ships staff members built an intuitive online recruitment tool. The process aids applicants with a wide range of skill sets and abilities to navigate the application in a user-friendly digital format.
Every applicant is taken step-by-step through the application that is customized based on the position for which they are applying. Based on how the applicant responds to certain questions about their background, the application allows HR to gather crucial information such as specific qualifications or health records needed for the position. Thanks to a check-list feature, applicants gauge their progress and are able to return to the form when they have gathered any additional documentation they need to submit, without having to start the process over.
Online application allows volunteers to submit in as little as 30 minutes, improves recruitment process
Result - In the first two months since the implementation, Mercy Ships saw an approximate 20-percent increase in the number of individuals starting the application process. Prospective volunteers can now submit their applications the same day, something that was next to impossible before. Because of the previous cumbersome application process, there was a high abandon rate. Today, it takes applicants on average between one and two hours to complete, even with a full complement of open-ended and health-related questions. Depending on the position, some applicants can complete the form in as little as 30 minutes.
“OutSystems is in a unique spot by providing a development environment that makes it very, very simple for anyone to use. OutSystems allowed us to not only move our application process online but also set us up to accomplish future goals.”
By moving the submission process online, the HR Department no longer receives incomplete applications. The new process captures all the necessary information prior to submission.
The accuracy of an applicant's information has also increased exponentially as HR does not have to painfully analyze handwritten forms.
Additionally, Mercy Ships is now able to track a person's interest in a given position and can be more proactive in reaching out to interested parties to help them complete the application if a pressing need exists.
Returning volunteers also benefit from the ability to update their profile, rather than resubmit an entire application each year—a major plus for an organization that attracts many repeat volunteers. Looking forward, Mercy Ships plans to expand upon this application’s success and create an online community where people interested in serving can get in touch with past volunteers as well as those currently serving.
Feedback from volunteers