NY Sun Works needed a tool to control operations, stay connected and support growth as it continued its mission to expand science education. Accelo was the solution.
NY Sun Works, a non-profit organization that builds innovative science labs in urban schools, uses hydroponic farming technology to educate students and teachers about sustainability.
Its Greenhouse Project is dedicated to improving science education from Kindergarten through 12th grade by offering students the opportunity to grow food while learning more about science, nutrition, water resource management, sustainable development and more.
Since its founding in 2004, the company has gone on to build these science labs in over 129 schools, far exceeding its original goal of 100.
One of NY Sun Works’ goals is to grow within the New York City market and eventually expand outside the metropolitan area. For this type of expansion, Margarita Rosas, who handles Finance and Operations, knew they needed to invest in a platform that could support their growth as they continued in their journey.
“We struggled with controlling operations,” Margarita recalls. “In the past, we had issues with the staff billing on time. Sometimes they would bill really late two to three months in a row. We didn’t have a good handle on it and couldn’t keep track properly.”
In addition to staying on top of billing, the company knew they needed help managing and controlling the relationships with the schools they served. Margarita found that there was a disconnect between the client team and internal team members. Often, emails would get lost and updates wouldn’t be communicated, which led to project delays.
Margarita also noticed that without all the information available at its fingertips, it was difficult for the company to learn from its mistakes — and the disconnect only grew larger.
A lack of control over operations also led to a breakdown in communication between the proposal, invoicing and delivery stages. There wasn't a way to link the three processes, which often meant doing more for a school than they’d agreed upon or encountering confusion about billing.
Margarita played a huge role in searching for and implementing a new platform.
She had previous experience with Accelo from working for an IT consulting company. Given that IT companies are careful with the software implemented, she was confident that Accelo would be a strong fit and help solve their major pain points.
When the time came for NY Sun Works to look into new platforms, Margarita knew she wanted to consider Accelo. The process was a thorough one. She and her team sat down to discuss key performance indicators and to create a list of core functionalities they required of the platform.
“We explored multiple different platforms,” Margarita says. “And out of the core platforms we looked at, we thought Accelo was the best. Our team did a thorough evaluation, estimated the cost and examined the different tools we could use. After all of that, I was confident that Accelo was the right choice.”
Since implementing Accelo, NY Sun Works has noticed a positive change in several key areas.
Before Accelo, the company spent up to 20% of its time doing manual administrative work. Now that they can track the entire project cycle in one place, the team always knows a project’s status and ownership.
Previously, there was no way to integrate information, so employees would spend time combing through previous communications, including email, or would need to reach out to an employee when there was an issue or confusion around a project. With all emails automatically captured in Accelo, Margarita and her team have a way to better track progress and ensure on-time work.
Accelo has also decreased the amount of time the team spends on billing.
They used to send invoices created in Excel, then the accountant had to manually enter that information into QuickBooks, which could take hours. Now, the team leverages Accelo’s QuickBooks integration by logging time and creating invoices in Accelo. The data is then pushed to QuickBooks, allowing the company to see what's happening in real-time. This entire process only takes 30 minutes.
All the time saved through tighter processes means that NY Sun Works employees have more time to dedicate to nurturing client relationships and understanding what each school needs.
One way Accelo helps enhance our competitive advantage is through strengthening the relationships we have with our schools. We’re more organized, have more insight into what’s happening on a daily basis. And having that knowledge on hand has helped us serve them better.
Margarita Rosas, Finance and Operations Manager
After witnessing Accelo’s capabilities, Margarita is confident that Accelo can aid the company in its expansion to the New York metropolitan area and beyond. The platform has solved all of the NY Sun Works’ biggest pain points thus far: lack of a single source of information, disorganized operations and subpar client relationships.
Margarita shares what she’s learned: "In order to expand the business, we had to grow in our level of organization and be more aggressive. We needed to have better control of what we do, and we didn't have that before Accelo."