The Neighborhood Charter Network is a growing network of schools in Indianapolis, IN. For NCN, student potential is their passion. Since 2016, they have been servicing Indianapolis with two locations in two neighbourhoods, and are looking to grow and expand in the years to come.
Director of Operations
Denise Castellanos is the Director of Operations at The Neighborhood Charter Network (NCN) where she strives to streamline the organizations existing processes and increase visibility throughout the organization. She brings a vast amount of experience in administration, operations, and business management to her role at The Neighborhood Charter Network.
Neighbourhood Charter Network came to Procurify wanting better approvals, and better budgets. “We started with getting QuickBooks and it did help, but the fact that only I had QuickBooks was a struggle because the school leaders who approved spend didn’t know how much they approved, or how much they had left in their budget," explains Denise Castellanos, Director of Operations for NCN.
The need was clear: NCN was in search of something to plug into their existing accounting system, QuickBooks Online, that could do away with the paper trails and broken processes. NCN has no active CFO, so a lot of the foresight and deliberation on technology landed on Denise’s shoulders. “It was really complicated and messy and we needed a more streamlined process,” she explains. “That’s when we found Procurify.”
“Before, we were trying spreadsheets but it was a fail. People wouldn’t put how much they were actually spending on there. So then we had to backtrack and pull records. Now, with Procurify, everyone loves it. It’s just so easy to use and accessible to everyone, from desktop or the mobile app.”
Starting with 12 employees and 80 students, Denise quickly realized the side effects of growth can mean exposing bad processes. “Now we’re at 120 employees and almost a thousand students. Throughout this growth, our processes were really manual. It was simple at first, but over time it just wasn’t feasible to keep tracking down pieces of paper,” says Denise. “It got to the point where we weren’t sure what we were spending, and we were losing orders.”
Finding a more organized spend hub wasn’t simply an efficiency play for NCN, it was also preparing themselves for the inevitability of audits. Like most charter schools, NCN is audited each year by their state board of accounts. The organization of this in years past left a lot more to be desired and for Denise, it meant parting with spreadsheets.
Procurify’s mobile app allows Denise to approve on the go from anywhere, and her staff can submit a request by simply taking a picture of a receipt. They’re also a few taps away from real-time budgets, which means they can constantly stay in the know. “The school leaders now know in real time how much they’re spending in each individual budget. In just a few weeks we saw a tremendous improvement in our processes and our overall mood around budgets and approvals.”
Entering a new foray of synchronicity and structure isn’t always the easiest transition, but Procurify’s team of onboarders and professional services took NCN’s goals seriously. Going paperless and tracking money curriculum for each school independently in the network was the bar, and both Procurify’s team and NCN’s staff worked hard to make sure onboarding was thorough but not a complete time-suck.“Throughout onboarding I personally had a lot of things on my plate, but even with all of that the professional services and customer experience teams were so flexible and kind,” Denise said.
“We were actually looking at a different solution, but after a few months of consideration and demoing the product, I’m really glad we didn’t go with that. It just wasn’t user friendly at all and there were so many complications that I remember saying ‘I don’t want to implement something that people are going to hate."
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