Go to top of page

Low-code, Big Impact: Automating Childcare Communications with Families

The challenge

SDN Children’s Services is a not-for-profit organisation that, for over a century, has delivered early childhood education and care, children's therapies, and family support services. 

Over the last three years, SDN has partnered with CEC to support their CX and Digital Transformation through ideation, strategic design, and digital initiatives that would return immediate value and impact to SDN as a business and families as their customers. 

We identified two critical challenges in SDN’s Waitlisting Process: where families enquired and applied for a placement at an SDN Centre and were put on a waitlist while SDN evaluated if there was a place at the Centre for their child. 

The first challenge was that in an increasingly competitive environment, SDN early education and care centres needed to improve their family recruitment experience. However, resourcing issues and sector-wide staff shortages meant they had to find an efficient way to do this, ensuring they remained family-centric and used channels families were most comfortable with.

Secondly, Centre Directors were not easily able to predict future vacancies at their centres, leading to gaps in utilisation and an experience for families that increased their stress and uncertainty.

This case study explores our approach to addressing the first challenge, centred around contact automation. 

The situation

The approach

The research

The findings

The solution

We designed and built an application leveraging Mendix’s low-code/no-code technology, enabling us to quickly deliver a customised, secure, scalable and functional application - all with UX at the heart of the process from design to delivery. 

Low-code/no-code technology allowed our designers to design and develop a customised, secure and scalable solution without interfering with the existing IT systems. We could bypass the need for expensive and complex custom coding without disrupting or adding any unnecessary burden to SDN’s IT department. 

Using low-code/no-code put the power of the build into the hands of our designers - ensuring the build meets the needs and expectations of customers without having to rely on deeply skilled programmers to maintain the solution long-term. 

When considering the technical foundation for the design and build of these concepts, we utilised current systems to reduce staff workload. We layered on top of existing legacy software to maintain the systems and processes currently in place, reducing time, cost and effort for the business to quickly and effectively meet the needs of families.

Our solution also redefined the channel through which families were contacted. Previously via phone calls that busy parents could easily miss, this highly manual process has been replaced with automated SMS. The low-code/no-code solutions have equipped SDN to automate contact with families on its waitlist via SMS, opening this as a new channel for enrolment. By aligning with a more customer-friendly channel, SDN can expect higher engagement and more accurate data from families.

Automated SMS notifications sent from SDN Centres
“When I first saw the system, I realised it would be a great help to me and to families. Staying connected with families on our waitlist is important to us but also really time-consuming, families are reluctant to answer calls from numbers they don’t immediately recognise. Targeted SMS is the perfect solution. We have a lot of vulnerable families apply to come to our centre, and I’m hoping the system will be a breakthrough in staying connected with them.” – Therese, Centre Administrator

The impact

Beyond benefiting SDN's organisation and staff, the project will directly improve the lives of the families and children they serve. The streamlined processes and increased efficiency will enable staff to focus on providing high-quality care and education, resulting in happier families and better outcomes for the children.

The low-code/no-code solutions have automated tasks and made enrolment easier through an innovative SMS channel, significantly reducing stress and complexity associated with accessing early education and childhood care services.

The solutions also provide SDN’s Centre Administrators and Directors with a bird's eye view of their contact list and ‘at a glance’ access to what families to contact and when – so family interactions are meaningful and matter.

“When we presented the new system to our centre teams their reaction was the best reaction I’ve experienced to the introduction of a new system. They loved the simplicity, family friendliness and the way it circumvented the need to access more complex systems. The system was designed around a full understanding of how they work day to day and the service they are delivering to families, so it makes sense that they’d love it as soon as they saw it.” - Adrienne Jerram, Director of Customer Experience at SDN

SDN continues to hold CX at the Centre of its transformation and is becoming an innovative market leader in early education and childhood care, children's therapies, and family support services.

At CEC, we leverage our suite of Human-Centred Design methodologies and tools and couple them with low-code/no-code technology so our digital solutions are meaningfully enabled by design and customers remain at the core. Learn more about how we design digital solutions and launch them to market with speed and scale.

SDN Children's Services
Stay tuned for part two, Low-code, Big Impact: Childcare utilisation forecasting made easier to find out how we used low-code/no-code to predict future vacancy rates and drive an uplift in centre utilisation.

Have a challenge, idea or opportunity?

We'd love to help.