Founded in 1813, The Benevolent Society is Australia’s first charity. With offices throughout New South Wales and Queensland, the non-profit organisation supports individuals, families and communities through education, counseling, respite care, home-based care and many other social services. The Benevolent Society’s vision is a just and compassionate Australia so people can live their best lives.
In 2015, to support its 70:20:10 learning and development model, The Benevolent Society began subscribing to EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS), a powerful research platform that enables its 1,000 employees to access the library’s collection in one single search. In addition, the organisation purchased a number of EBSCO’s organisational learning resources, such as such as Business Book Summaries® and EBSCO eBooks™. With the help of EBSCO engineers, The Benevolent Society customised its EDS home page to look more like Leadership & Management Learning Center™ (LMLC), an EBSCO solution that provides pre-populated, highly relevant content from industry thought leaders and organizes it by an organisation's key competencies or learning goals.
Three months after the soft launch, The Benevolent Society saw a marked increase in the number of full-text downloads, resulting in a greater return on its e-resources investment.
A year later, the Benevolent Society's effective integration of EDS and LMLC earned EBSCO Information Services a Bronze in the 2016 Brandon Hall Group Awards for Best Advance in Performance Support Technology.
When Leonie Power assumed her position as The Benevolent Society’s Manager of Organisational Learning and Development, her first task was to analyse the group’s learning resources, systems, processes and procedures. During that process she discovered nearly a dozen isolated journal subscriptions through EBSCO.
“I could see that neither of those structures were actually meeting our needs,” said Power, who determined only five or six people were using the resources with any regularity. “I don’t think the implementation [of these resources] had been strong.”
The Benevolent Society follows the 70:20:10 model for learning and development. Commonly used within the training profession, this model suggests that individuals obtain 70 percent of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20 percent from interactions with others, and 10 percent from formal educational events.
“We wanted a product that would support a 70:20:10 learning and development model so that we would be able to develop our leaders to develop others,” Power said. “We needed a very rich resource repository to enable that.”
So Power began talking to EBSCO about the organisation’s learning needs. She sought an affordable, user-friendly tool that would provide managers with ample leadership and management resources as well as authoritative articles from peer-reviewed journals. She also wanted the ability to integrate the organisation’s institutional repository.
“That’s when EBSCO Discovery Service really started to come forward, with the Leadership & Management Learning Center (LMLC) combined, as the potential better solution for us,” Power said.
The Benevolent Society chose EDS as its discovery service vendor for several reasons. First, EDS offers thousands of high-quality articles from a wide range of peer-reviewed journals and other vetted resources. Power said that the “breadth, scope and appropriateness” of the content available in EDS played a significant role in the organisation’s decision.
In addition, the easy-to-use EDS interface could be customised to maintain the organisation’s corporate colors and overall look and feel.
“Branding is very critical to us,” Power said, adding that The Benevolent Society underwent a rebranding in 2013 to celebrate the charity’s 200th anniversary. Power worked with EBSCO to replicate the layout of the Leadership & Management Learning Center interface on the EDS landing page.
EDS users — which include social workers, psychologists, counsellors, welfare workers and case managers — can conduct a search from the home page or browse the latest Business Book Summaries, EBSCO eBooks or leadership videos. They can also browse topics by core competency, such as Communication Skills and Managing People. Clicking on a topic will generate a list of relevant results.
“We recognise the power of learning on the job and personal responsibility for development using a variety of resources,” Power said, adding that the organisation plans to map content to its capability framework. “What we can do to help people use the system even more is map some of the resources that could help them develop specific skills that are linked to their roles or roles they aspire to.”
Power also cited EBSCO’s strong technical support offering as a key factor in the organisation’s decision to purchase EDS.
“I had no internal IT capacity or expertise to draw on, so I was totally dependent on [EBSCO’s] providing me with all the technical, engineering and architectural implementation needs for this to be successful,” Power said. “The implementation was well managed by EBSCO.”
Finally, EDS proved to be an affordable solution for the organisation. After conducting her research and drafting a proposal, Power secured the endorsement of the executive director of People, Learning and Culture. “I was able to demonstrate that the transition from our previous model to the new model was almost cost-neutral,” she said. “We’re getting higher-quality resources and much better service. Our users now have a plethora of information, a lot more full-text content, and certainly a very different experience.”
Benefits & Results
Between January and June 2015, the six-month period prior to the launch of EDS with LMLC, the library saw a total of 405 full-text downloads. In the three months since the launch, the number of full-text downloads totaled 660. In other words, the library has seen one and a half times the number of full-text downloads in half the amount of time.
Power said she was particularly impressed by the early figures, especially given the fact that the organisation had a fairly low-level roll out. But she is confident in the feedback she has received thus far.
“There is an absolute positivity that is expressed when we talk about the library,” Power said. “People are just so excited. There is some degree of disbelief around just how much is available to them and how rich that repository is.”
Update: Since this story was first published, The Benevolent Society's effective integration of EDS and LMLC earned EBSCO Information Services a Bronze in the 2016 Brandon Hall Group Awards for Best Advance in Performance Support Technology. Read the press release.
"We’re getting higher-quality resources and much better service. Our users now have a plethora of information, a lot more full-text content, and certainly a very different experience."